Rozie’s A-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure is a puzzle app with charming art from Roxie Munro. An elaborate, detailed map combines routes for cars, bikes, feet, skis, boats, airplanes, and even a hot air balloon! With your finger, you start in your car (you choose the color). Your car sparkles a little so you can find it amid the wonderful chaos of the puzzle. The huge map has been broken down into 16 separate puzzle screens and getting to each is puzzle unto itself. On each screen you must navigate through and find items along the way: five star bits to build a star, a penguin, plus items such as letters, numbers, animals, or delivery trucks.
The mechanics take a little getting used to and preschoolers will be happier if aided by an adult. What also takes some getting used to is the pace of this puzzler. This is not about speed or beating the clock. This is about enjoying the ride. As you navigate the puzzle, part of the point is observing all of the detail Ms. Munro has put into the environment.
My kids and I enjoy this puzzle, but I do have two criticisms. First, the images do not zoom. The penguin hidden in each screen often looks like a pedestrian or even a rock to my adult eyes. The ability to finger-zoom the image to better see the detail would be nice for those with less-than-perfect eyesight.
My second criticism is that this puzzle is too challenging. I like that it is designed to last a long time, but I am half-way through and cannot figure out how to visit the remaining screens. At this point in my progress, I simply revisit the areas I already explored. The developers market-tested the app with school children who were each given 45 minutes to play. The puzzles are engaging for at least an hour. After that, you may find yourself in an endless loop, which for many adults can be a nightmare. When I first got stuck, I put the app down for a few weeks. When I returned, I was able to enter a new area. I didn’t think it updated; maybe the app self-adjusts, granting access like a time-release cold remedy? Maybe I’m not as smart as those kids in the market test. My kids, at least, do not get as frustrated with it as I do, which eases the pain of the $2.99 price tag.