Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Little Bit of Depression: Oregon Trail


How many of you remember the days in middle school when you would wait for computer lab or library time to play The Oregon Trail? I do, that's for sure. This game (along with Reader Rabbit, etc) was the only thing to break up the banality that was catholic school. It seemed so simple then: eat, hunt, die. Only NOW do I realize that it was a sham, a ploy in order for me to learn about history whilst thinking I was playing a game.

Anyway, Oregon Trail. It's gone through a whole bunch of stages ranging from really-shitty-graphics to not-so-shitty graphics. In fact, for the most part, it was just lines on a black background, or vice versa. Do not let the opening screen (pictured above) fool you! What was AWESOME though, is that it was for Mac and PC [[mac-user tangent]]. Anyway, getting into the game:

The point was to make it from Independence, Missouri to Willamette Valley, Oregon in a wagon in 1848. And usually myself and my friends would hardly ever make it past the first week, because someone would die of consumption or snakebite or something along those lines.

The main goal was to hunter. If your men didn't hunt you would usually die. If your men hunted, they would usually die; and if they didn't die from hunting, then your whole trailpack would die from lack of supplies. Now that I think about it, that probably set up a pretty grim outlook for most of the children of our generation. Either that, or it set up a realistic one. In the original version of hunting, all the player had to do was type "POW", "BANG", etc and see how fast they could type them. Each type a word was typed out, the gun would shoot. If you misspelled anything, you would lose the hunt. Maybe this is what enabled such swift texting for people of our generation.

For animals that could be shot, you could either shoot Bison, Squirrel, Rabbits, or Deer. However, you could only carry back 1oo pounds of food back to your wagon. So if you had a bunch of people, you were pretty much screwed unless you upped on ammo (close to impossible), and rationed. Basically, hunting always ended in death, just like much else in the game.
So, seeing as this was a game focussed mostly on death (I guess the purpose was more so to show us how many deaths really took place on the Oregon Trail, rather than any actually history, because that's pretty much all I remember), I should probably talk about some of the ways people could die, Huh? During the game, members of your wagon could get sick and die from a whole plethora of diseases, and did quite frequently. Some of these diseases/illnesses were: measles, snakebite, dysentary, typhoid, cholera, exhaustion, and diarrhea. People also drowned, or died from broken legs quite frequently. Another common problem was your oxen dying, and when your oxen died, you had to slow down, which meant your party began dropping like flies. When someone in the wagon died, which happened about every .15 seconds (or something like that) you'd stop for a funeral and then continued onwards until the next "hearty" pilgrim succumbed.

In the end, apparently, (I wouldn't know, because I never beat this godforsaken game) they score you based on your profession. So if you were a carpenter, you got such and such points; if you were a hunter (good typer) you got so many points, etc. etc. However, I've been asking around, so I could make this a GOOD review and be as informative as possible, and no one that I know has beat the game either. Go figure, apparently death and dysentary was not on the list of fun-things-to-do for 5th graders in the 90s.


  1. For some reason, I always get so offended when people say they have never heard of the Oregon Trail. I would rave and rave about how it was so great and reminisce about my childhood, etc. Then they would finally play it on iphone, etc. Its not the same and I don't think the experience would ever be the same for anyone who didn't play it during childhood. Its just something our generation can hold on to, even if we shouldn't lol.

    1. Right?! There have been a bunch new versions of it created like Hipster ones, etc, but the OG Oregon Trail is definitely where it is at! Plus it reminds me of GC's front of house system. XD