Okay, some facts before I Begin:
1. I grew up in Oregon so this game has a personal importance to me.
2. Oregon Trail was one of the first computer games I ever played
3. This was also the first time that I disregarded educational games as fun.
I received this game to play before the holidays and I put it on my "to play" pile (which included Batman: Arkham City, Dance Central 2, Assassins Creed: Revelations and Uncharted 3...I think we all know which game came in last) and have now only begun to mess around with it.
And you know what?
It's not terrible (it's not great, and if I were a kid this could occupy me for probably 45 minutes). The graphics are decent and it seems like a lot of thought went into developing the game play, unlike a lot of other budget titles released for the Wii that resemble digital puke.
This version is basically the same as the original: You are taking your family 2000 miles from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City and you have to keep them and your livestock alive (although in this version there are 3 different stories so you can enjoy banality in different ways).
But there are some issues that need to be addressed:
First off, you spend about twenty minutes naming people, buying stuff and learning historical facts so by the time you actually leave town you are emotionally exhausted and ready to turn off the console (which is something you never want to happen in a game).
After making it through the boring part, you immediately start shooing rabbits and bison (which explode into stars) and then suddenly you are back driving the wagon like nothing ever happened (except for the genocide you committed moments before). It's reminiscent of an alcoholic blackout where you suddenly wake up in place you don't know and are suddenly aware you are without pants...it's that weird of a transition.
After again stopping to talk to more people, you end up on the trail going west but not before the following statement runs through your mind, "For F*ck's sake, am I on the damn trail yet"?
Yes, yes you are.
You then spend a few minutes on the trail avoiding rocks and whipping your oxen to go faster.
Here's a little bit of internal dialog I had while playing the game:
Why do I have to talk to everyone? If my dad was driving a wagon he wouldn't stop, he'd try and make good time, not spend two days helping some idiot and his wife change a wagon wheel.
Blah, blah, blah....
Okay, so truth be told I lasted like 35 minutes before giving up and re-playing Elebits but to be honest, I'm sure this game would appeal to seven year olds who are in social studies class or interested in learning more about what it was like to be on The Oregon Trail back in the 19th century, but for people who enjoy games that actually move faster than your grandma on her walker, this is gonna bore you to tears.
If you are desperately into laying out $20 for an educational game that will somewhat remind you of your younger days playing on an Apple II, this one will do that, it will also appeal to young kids who don't know any better and adults who are on high doses of Thorazine.
Just make sure that you have plenty Imodium on hand while playing this game.
And thanks to our friends at Red Wagon Games, we're giving away a copy of The Oregon Trail for the Wii system.
To enter, please send an email with the subject header "OREGON TRAIL" to geekcontest @ gmail dot com and answer the following question:
What's your favorite retro game?
Please include your name and address (U.S. Residents only. You must be 18 years old).
Only one entry per person and a winner will be chosen at random.
Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST on February 15, 2012.