Screwattack once quoted "Let's face it. Educational Games suck...except Oregon trail." how right they are. how right they are.
If you had Apple II computers or Macs in school, chances are you were playing the 1985 version of this game (which is pretty much the same thing as the 1971 version, only with a few changes) and thats the version i was playing too. and this game, and word munchers, were my 2 favorite games to play. both were fun, but Oregon trail was just awesome. while i will play word munchers, i'll get bored with it. Oregon trail, i can play that for hours.
you start out as either a banker, carpenter, or a farmer. whatever choice you pick determines how much cash you start with. if you're a farmer, you start with $400.00, a carpenter starts with $800.00, and a banker starts with $1,000.00. you cannot earn more during the game, but what you buy with that money will help you on your way to Oregon. you will need to buy oxen to pull your wagon, food to support you and your family, clothing to keep them warm and safe, ammunition to shoot animals along the way for food, and spare parts for the wagon in case you break down and cannot repair.
As you progress through the game, you'll come across rivers, landmarks, and forts. For rivers, you can ford through them if they're shallow, you can caulk your wagon (take the wheels and axles off) and float across, take a ferry, or wait a few days. however, Fording the river could result in the wagon being tipped over and you losing your stuff. caulking could result in the wind tipping your wagon over. Ferrying costs money, and waiting costs time, which you do not have much of. remember, you're trying to make it to Oregon before winter.
Landmarks serve nothing more than a place to talk to people and trade. yes, you can talk to fellow travelers and trade with them.
Forts are like independence at the beginning of the game. you can stop to buy stuff, however, as you progress, the stuff gets more expensive and your money will decrease. kind of like Mad Max for the NES, but the thing is, Mad Max sucked.
at certain points in the game, you and your party, (or your family) will suffer various incidents. for example, thieves might come along at night and steal your stuff (this is particularly annoying when they steal all of your oxen and you cannot go anywhere until you can get some in a trade, which could take a long time, and remember, time is important) a fire might break out, resulting in loss of stuff, and your family might get random diseases...the disease feature of the game has actually inspired some funny T-shirts to be made, particularly the one that says "I died of Dysentery."
At the end, your score is tabulated by how many resources you have left, the type of health your party is in, how many of you made it to Oregon, and how you started (if you were a banker, you don't get any bonuses, if you're a carpenter, your points are doubled, and if you're a farmer, your points are tripled.)
Bottom line, if there was an educational game I'd have to play until i was dead, it would be Oregon trail. it is phenomenal in the fact that it was made before the first official Video game came out, and that it was just meant for school students in Minnesota, but it was so popular, it spread. also, it's an educational game that doesn't shove education down your throat, and you actually learn more than the history of the Oregon trail (you learn how to manage your resources in the game, which carries over to real life.) and even more important, it is fun.
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