Dysentary Is Still Fun!

Awww, memories.

Ahhh, memories.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I had discovered that mobile gaming had emerged from the ages of ‘Snake’ and into a surprisingly fun experience while I was busy ‘paying bills’. Having wet my feet with the several demos that came pre-programmed on my phone, I set about the task of downloading The Oregon Trail. Why? Because who doesn’t have fond memories of subliminally learning while having fun? No one, that’s who.

Once downloaded from GameLoft, I loaded the game up and instantly noticed several slight changes. First of all, the graphics have been upgraded. Some would say that this detracts from the nostalgic feel of the game, but they were still cute and pixelated so it didn’t bother me any.

After I named my group leader, my wife and three kids (all of whom you actually get to SEE) I entered the storeĀ  to load up my wagon. In the version for my phone, which isn’t quite as cool as the iPhone, I only had basic options of my career (farmer, carpenter or banker) and the game automatically generated my supplies and money based on that. No more hovering in the store debating on whether or not to buy another yoke or three sets of clothes. Streamlined is the word. For a visual example, check out the video trailer by GameLoft.

Okay, so I’ve got my family, my supplies and I’ve picked which month I’m leaving in. Let’s get moving!

Once on the trail, several more changes to the original game became obvious. For one thing, my party is visible. Gone are the classic oxen and wagon meandering over tan dirt and a black sky. My wagon and oxen are still there, but the family walks outside the wagon (just like they would have in real life). The background actually consists of moving scenery and even changing weather patterns. If someone gets sick or injured (and they will), their shoulders slump and a little skull and crossbones appears over their heads. At the bottom of the screen are your movement and rest buttons. The upper left hand corner contains the health of your wagon, party and how much food you have left. The upper right tells you how much money you have left, the date and how many miles to the next stop.

Also, to make the game have a higher replay value (I assume), GameLoft added in several new and entertaining tasks. Other than the staple minigame of moving in diagonal lines and shooting game and avoiding river rocks with your caulked wagon, there is now sluicing for gold, fishing for food or as a challenge to win supplies, berry picking, and a game that gives you the chance to fix that damn axle that breaks every two days.

The Oregon Trail now includes a small questing element as well. In each town there will be at least two people; an obnoxious child that brags his family can beat yours to the next stop and a wealthy man. If you take the braggart up on his offer to race and beat him, you win money which can be used to buy the ever increasingly expensive supplies or medicine for your sick. The wealthy man always wants you to take a package to the next wealthy man in the next town. You can either deliver the package or steal it. Inside my ill gained package was an engagement ring and letter. I felt guilty but dammit that ring was worth $60! Of course, you can also be on the receiving end of random encounters where bandits steal your supplies or, bizarrely, a bear attacks from nowhere and mauls one of your party members.

Over all, I had a great time playing this remake. It had a handy save game feature which was nice since most of my play time was in snippets while waiting on kids, food, or what have you. But that’s not to say it wasn’t without it’s drawbacks. I don’t know if I just make smarter life choices now that I’m not in third grade, but the game felt almost too easy. Never once did we all drown from a poor river crossing choice. No one ever died either, since resting for two days seemed to have the same effect as medicine; whether they had dysentary or a broken arm. And where’s the fun in not being able to write ‘Pepperoni and Cheese’ on my tombstone?

If you enjoyed The Oregon Trail as a kid, aren’t a hard nose purist, and have seven bucks and twenty minutes to spare, you could do a lot worse than stake a virtual claim on the west coast.

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One Response

  1. […] and so forth. And if my kids are suddenly being tricked into learning like I was when I played The Oregon Trail on my Apple II in third grade, then I for one am not going to give Activision any crap for […]

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