Saturday, July 22, 2006

Geography and Games: Oregon Trail

This post is dedicated to some of my friends who have never played "Oregon Trail." I pity you for never having a fun and educational childhood. Freaking Philistines.

835 miles to go Karen, suck it up!

Oregon Trail has a cult following in my generation. It was the game to play beating out others like Wolfenstein 3D (I remember when my computer teacher gave us all copies), Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe, and even Life and Death! Many others like Gamespot and Gamespy consider the game one of the greatest ever made. I agree with them.

The purpose of the original Oregon Trail game was to journey from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon Territory in 1848 along the Oregon Trail. One would have a family, need to buy supplies, cross rivers, trade, hunt, and all the "fun" stuff people would do crossing half of the United States. Throughout the game choices have to be which will have consequences. Over hunting in one area will reduce the amount of game; river crossing are dangerous, and pushing too hard may kill sick members of the wagon train.

I learned about many sites along the trail from this game. The game is also my inspiration for my current study of the trail. It is a worthy addition to any educational program involving United States History.

The highlight of the series was Oregon Trail 2. It was the very first computer my family ever purchased (bought the same day we purchased our $2,000+, 100 MHz Packard Bell) and it is the best Oregon Trail. The game had the right amount of multimedia and a fairly wide cast of fellow emigrant characters. One has to buy food individually (bacon, veggies, fruits) and one must choose the exact medicines they will need. The game has more choices like trying to heal wounds, encounters, and cut-offs. More places are depicted like trading posts, ferries, and natural wonders. The icing on the cake is the multiple trails on can take. One can travel on the Oregon, California, or Mormon trail departing from four different jumping-off towns from 1840 to 1860.

Afterwards three more Oregon Trail games were released but these have gone the route of more multimedia and less interactivity. So stick with the first games.

The original Oregon Trail can be downloaded here while the deluxe edition (colorful graphics) can be download here. Enjoy and have fun with the tombstones!


Moo said...

I remember playing this game when I was younger and thinking it was great.

The highlight of the game for us(we were 7) was writing vulgar things on our tombstones when we died.

purpleslog said...

I played it on the Apple 2+ at the local library one day a week one summer.

The rest of the time I spent ripping apart basic programs to see how they worked.

I an a history buff and Oregon Trail was a blast. The next program to really turn my crank was "Balance of Power", and a few years later "Civilization".

The last two may be do to my german ancestry though.

Catholicgauze said...

I think that was an universal thing.

I understand liking "Civilization" (Civ II is perphaps one or two on the all-time best games ever) but "Balance of Power"? I remember the USSR nuking me because I gave the Ivory Coast a most favored nation trading partner!

Tony Cassidy said...

I remember using this in my Geography Degree course, for our Peopling of America module. Thanks this has brought back happy memories.

Great blog.

mikesukat said...

I've found this download site for old Oregon Trail Deluxe game:
[url=]Oregon Trail Deluxe download[/url]