Oregon Trail for the iPhone

Title: Oregon Trail

Publisher: Gameloft

Cost: $1.99

Platform: iPhone

Back when I was in junior high school, we had a very rudimentary version of the game Oregon Trail on our DEC PDP 11/40.  Playing the game was as simple as making the right choices and typing BANG for the hunting scenes in the game.   While very entertaining at the time, it was rather simplistic compared to the 1984 version of the MECC game Oregon Trail.

The 1984 Version was a market improvement on the previous versions including several which were available in public domain software collections of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.   But by the time the 1984 version came out, I was a bit beyond that game but it was still quite hilarious to watch students play it, chattering wildly among themselves the way we did back in on the old PDP 11/40.   There were graphics and river scenes and even a bit of the 8 bit music that was typical of the time.

Recently I downloaded the free version of the Gameloft produced Oregon Trail for iPhone, complete with the expectations set by having played the original Oregon Trail series many moons ago.  That is where the happiness ended with the game.  What I found when I started the iPhone version was simply a graphical simplicity of the game that I knew. It was seriously disappointing in the fact that 20 years had passed, yet the folks over at Gameloft could not find a way to improve on the game in such a manner as not to insult people’s intelligence, in spite of having all that computing power and the graphics capabilities of the iPhone.

Most disappointing was the fact that the cutesy graphics within the game are just that.  There was nothing in this game that made me want to continue playing after the first three minutes of play and certainly nothing I would have offered my hard earned cash for.  Every scene was just overly simplified and even though one always gets a bit of satisfaction from the hunting scenes in the original, the iPhone version found ways to even take that joy out of the game

The game would have been much better if it had stuck to the original concept of hunting and limiting the amount of meat that one could carry and really making the user work in the hunt, but the manner in which it handles the hunting and the fishing scenes is almost laughable.

What I knew as a teaching aid, was now a video game that even a 3 year old could have done without thinking about the game.  The Oregon Trail game is supposed to be an educational game and is supposed to teach the hardships that the original settlers endured in their crossing of the American West.  The iPhone version of the game does not do this and really is not much more than a glorified video game and so non-attuned to the title Oregon Trail.

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