App review: Road Trip Bingo

Consumer Reports News: July 11, 2011 08:08 AM

"Are we there yet?" The well-prepared parent can stave off the dreaded road-trip whine by planning some fun family activities. If you're traveling with an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, consider the Road Trip Bingo app. [corrected link]

The game has bingo boards with travel icons instead of letters and numbers. You can play single or double player. You play like traditional Bingo: The object is to mark off squares on your board until you have marked off five in a row, either up and down, across, or diagonally.

In traditional Bingo, a person calls out numbers and letters that correspond to the squares on your board. In Road Trip Bingo, your squares are filled with images of things you would commonly see on a road trip. When you see those things out the window, you mark them off by touching the icon so that a purple dot appears over the image.

There are dozens of icons to search for, including cows, horses, cars, trucks, bicycles, crosswalks, and street signs for speed limit, merging, detours, one way, pedestrian crossing, and more.

When you play with two people, the iPad screen is split into two boards, so you play simultaneously. This doesn't allow you to be very competitive, because if you see a green car and mark it off, your opponent will see it too. You end up collaborating more than competing. But it's a lot easier to catch your opponent cheating!

I played Road Trip Bingo with my mom on a recent road trip (my son is too young to play this yet). While traveling through the Altamont Pass in Northern California, we saw a small farm with cows. She marked off cows and horses when there were clearly no horses on that farm. I indignantly called her out and unmarked her horse box. She still won, though. Twice. But I'm not bitter.

When a Bingo is reached, the app identifies a winner and shuffles though the icons to give you a new board. You can't go for a blackout, or a completely marked-off board.

The game has background music, which I found pretty annoying, so I turned it off. It was more fun to announce to the other four people in the car that I desperately needed a Merge Left sign. It became a fun group activity with everyone on the lookout for items.

I wasn't sure how much of a purist I should be about the game, though. For instance, I marked off my speed-limit icon when I saw a sign posting the speed limit at 65 miles per hour. The icon on the board says 55 mph, though. Close enough, right?

Also, should you count a Merge Left icon if the one you see is only graphically represented and not written out? And should you mark off a green car if what you see is a green SUV? I did all of those things. And yet, I still lost.

Road Trip Bingo HD costs 99 cents in the iTunes App Store.

Natali Morris

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