Developer: Gameloft
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1.2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★★

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

I think that every person in North America between the age of 15-35 has a memory of Oregon Trail. Someone on your wagon train at some point died of cholera and someone inevitably drowned while fording a river. Through all of this misery and pain, we all as youngsters learned some valuable lessons: if you kill too many buffalo, you won’t be able to return with all of the meat, to prevent disease, always take breaks, and that you will, without question, lose someone in your family to a wild animal. The game has changed though in many ways… some bad, some good.

Should he poke it?

Should he poke it?

The most noticeable difference in the new Oregon trail game is the graphics. The days of old Apple machine graphics are gone and have been replaced with something that is a cross between what you’d expect the game to look like, and Warioware. Everything is slightly anime inspired and gives you the feel of imminent action without being overly distracting. The characters are all very well designed and even have running dialogue in text bubbles while they are on their journey. Some of the animal graphics in the game are just perfect, with the bear being the best by far. The sound is alright, with a decent soundtrack in the background along with real human voice in some parts. This sounds like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but there really aren’t that many games out there using human voices. Some voices are slightly repetitive though (you’ll end up hearing, “Best of the west!” about a hundred times before you finish a journey) and will quickly make you want to hit the mute switch.

Of course he should poke it.

Of course he should poke it.

The gameplay, the real meat and potatoes of Oregon Trail, is quite a bit different from the original title. The first thing you’ll notice, or not notice for that matter, is the removal of the intense preparation for the journey. You still get to pick what kind of character to play with and what kind of cart you want, but that’s really the end of the starting options. I think that the game, being on a mobile platform and all, tends to play into the ADD generation a bit too much at times. I really miss being able to buy wheels and axels and medicine in preparation for the journey. Don’t get too bummed out though wishing that you could buy things, because you still can, just not quite as much as you used to be able too. The Oregon Trail is littered with numerous outposts that sell products such as clothing, oxen, medicine, wagon covers, and of course food.

There are also things that the Gameloft added that are really cool. Simple tasks from the old game, like repairing your cart, have been turned into Wii-like mini-games that are quite fun. The hunting mini-game is awesome by the way, especially when you have to survive animal attacks (survive the squirrel attack for 30 seconds comes to mind). The developers also made the trip a bit more exciting with some outrageous injury and death instances. My friend Phil, while somewhere in Colorado, had one of his children snatched up by and eagle and had to look for him for three days. The best though, by far, are scenes with the extremely agile bears. I could almost justify buying this game for nothing more than seeing your people get attacked by the evil bears (they are like ninjas!).

He shouldn't have poked it.

He shouldn't have poked it.

This new version of Oregon trail, although slightly less of an RPG than the old version, and maybe a bit too easy, is an extremely fun game that’s worthy of all the praise that it should and will get. I do hope that future updates provide more side quests and equipment to buy, but overall it’s really quite extensive. At $5.99, this game should be purchased by just about everyone who likes portable gaming. I don’t want to be your financial planner, but skip lunch at work one day and buy the game with the savings… you won’t regret it. I really, really like what Gameloft has done with Oregon Trail… it is definitely a must have iPhone app.

Note to Gameloft: Will you please make a port of Amazon Trail?

(Thanks to Phil del Real for sacrificing his firstborn to a bear for this app review. He really shouldn’t have poked the bear.)

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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