Oregon Trail Makes the Long, Arduous Journey to iPhone

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

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My iPhone says I’ve died of dysentery. Though somehow, the fact that it comes from a cute little cartoon makes the blow a little easier to take than back in a computer lab twenty years ago with the green-and-black pixels of the original Oregon Trail.

Last week, Oregon Trail became available as an iPhone app for $5.99. Which, actually, is a bit on the pricey side for apps these days. Is it worth the cash and the space? Well, to be honest, despite the joy of writing this article for you people, I don’t think I’ll be getting much use out of it. Because the game has been pretty much completely overhauled, there’s actually not that much nostalgia value. And whereas it was pretty fun when (a) I was ten, and (b) it was the height of gaming technology, it’s not really holding my attention anymore. On the bright side, I think that it might appeal to kids as much as any other “educational” game (and indeed, it’s even more educational than the original since it’s got a lot of fun facts about history mixed in). Though how many ten-year-olds have iPhones?

Some of the major changes (besides the graphics) are that there are mini-games – besides hunting as in the original, there’s also fishing, telegraph sending, and fixing the wagon, for example – and “quests” (which don’t seem to involve any work or have any effect, but rather are just completed as a side-effect of going through the game). Though it is kind of neat that you guide your wagon down rivers by tilting the iPhone. The game logic is a little different, too; for example, when you start out you choose banker, carpenter, or farmer, but it’s based on more than just money – a carpenter can fix the wagon more easily, and a farmer requires less food.

Of course, there’s one missing element that was particularly disappointing… remember how in the Apple version of the original you could write whatever you wanted on the tombstone of someone who died? This was, of course, the opportunity for kids to use all of the dirty words they knew.

All in all, it’s a cute game. But I still think I would rather just get a port of the original for $.99 – in my opinion, the appeal of Oregon Trail for most iPhone users would be the nostalgia, not the gameplay.

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