Games People Play

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Are We There Yet?

Games People Play

(in cars)
By Lisa Twyman Bessone

Getting there is half the fun. Whoever coined that phrase obviously wasn't traveling with a carload of kids. Here are a few items from our bag of tricks that will help keep the "How much longer?" chorus at bay.

Magnavox Sideshow and Nintendo 64
High-speed TV. Once the stuff of Night Rider episodes, it's fast going mainstream. This television console ($769.95) fits between the front seats in minivans and super-utes like Suburbans and Tahoes, then plugs into the lighter with a three-accessory plug so you can still use the cell phone and radar detector. Anchored without drilling by brackets and straps, you can ditch the set when not in road-warrior mode. It can play videos or video games, like the still white-hot Nintendo 64 ($199.95; 800-422-2602) with its lap-the-field production quality and 3-D graphics. Best of all, the console comes complete with two headphones for some front-seat peace and quiet. It's available through Hammacher Schlemmer; call 800-543-3366.

Computer Software
If you sport a "Kill your Television" bumper sticker, the aforementioned item probably won't appeal. Consider buying a lighter-jack plug for your laptop, then checking out some of the newest software. LucasArts has nine titles of Star Wars-inspired games ($29-$45 each) that will be even hotter this summer with the planned re-release of the trilogy. Oregon Trail (The Learning Company, $49.99), which continues to top the charts despite its Stone Age technology, has gotten a 90s face-lift. The result is a jazzed-up version of the same great game--a Conestoga wagon trip down the Oregon Trail. The younger set will enjoy still more adventures with Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Disney's Toy Story ($39.95), a CD-ROM that succeeds where so many have failed--it's actually as good as the movie.

Game Gear
Sega's answer to Nintendo's GameBoy, but with better graphics and a bigger price tag ($99 versus $49 for GameBoy). It's just as mobile (six AA batteries required for four to six hours of fun), and just as annoying to adults. All of which will make your kids love it.

A Backseat Survival Guide
This kid's travel kit is chock-full of the classics: License Plate, Connect-the-Dots, Hangman, Thumb Wars, and palm-reading games. It's "warranted for thousands of miles" according to the publisher, and endorsed by the Save The Parents Society. It contains some 50 games complete with markers, cool sticky game pieces for Parcheesi, and thread for hair-wraps and string games. Call Klutz Press (415-424-0739) for this and the complete Klutz catalog of titles.

Last spring, when our family took a 400-mile road trip, our friends let us borrow Stories at the Tipi (Trails West Publishing, $10.95; 800-566-9072) by Joe Hayes. This man should be canonized for his animated storytelling and wonderful material (natural phenomena explained with a new mythological twist). You get 80 minutes of interstate bliss.

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