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SummaryA fun game, but it doesn't feel like you're really traveling the trail
The GoodThis game has a very easy learning curve. It doesn't take very long to figure out how to get from your starting point to the Willamette Valley successfully. Trading is easy in this game, and many times the other characters will be willing to trade for food, which is easily had in this game. Hunting is how I kept many of my wagon trains alive until the end. Much of the game is simplified, which I don't think is a bad thing, because when someone gets a broken arm or bit by a rattlesnake, you don't have to worry about them too much. River crossings seem to be the biggest deal in the game, as this is where you can lose supplies and kill people for the most part during the game. I don't know if anyone else has ever tried this, but I took two years to complete some of my crossings, I sincerely doubt if that happened in real life, but it enabled me to build up my score to the highest level possible by the end of the game. The pictures present a fairly good ethnic mix, which would have been present at the time. The arcade sequence can be skipped if you choose to take the Barlow Toll Road instead of going downstream. The Dalles arcade is fairly easy anyway, so taking it is no big deal--this was the first time I didn't mind an arcade sequence that much.
The BadThe fact that it is not very realistic. It's hard to get people to die when they get sick, unless you're going at a breakneck speed and never stop to rest, which is unnecessary in this game. As I mentioned before, you shouldn't be able to take two years for the crossing without some kind of penalty, and yet I have done this several times. Illnesses not being a big deal in this game strike me as being odd--someone who has cholera or just broke a leg is no big deal, you don't have to treat them or even worry about them. Again, this may be due to the fact that I stopped often to hunt, so my people were getting plenty of rest. You always start at the same year from the same place. There really aren't an awful lot of decisions to be made along the trail in terms of where you are planning to go. The graphics are repetitive, though fairly good for the time. Some of the animation is a bit odd, like the rabbits and squirrels as they run across the screen in the arcade sequence. Another thing I didn't understand is why they were running in the first place--wouldn't they run AFTER you fire your gun, but not before you have tried to shoot at them? The only way to make high score is to start out as a teacher.