In the 1800s, settlers gathered in Independence, Missouri. They sold their belongings, piled into a wagon, and then headed west across 2,000 miles of rough terrain before finally arriving at the verdant valley of Oregon City. Their adventures changed the course of American history, and eventually, those brave men and women were immortalized in computer game form. For years, students have learned about that famous journey by playing video games. Now they can do so in Oregon Trail for the Wii. Unfortunately, the new update is a visually unappealing, shallow, and repetitive mess of a game that is likely to leave older players pining for the days when a few minutes on the computer with virtual pioneers was the highlight of their school day.
Choose a stylish tarp and body that will make your wagon turn heads.
The Oregon Trail is structurally faithful to its predecessors. As in the history books, you start in Missouri and from there head west along the familiar route. You can stop to trade with Native Americans and other travelers, purchase supplies at forts, and hunt for food, but you can also lose your belongings to robbers and fall victim to illnesses brought on by a grueling pace and harsh conditions. There are tweaks to the familiar formula that help to make things more active and contemporary, however.
The most obvious tweak is the manner in which you progress along the trail. Early versions of the game found students staring at a monitor while oxen slowly plodded from right to left, with occasional prompts when something occurred that required input. It was possible to speed things up, if a wagon party could handle the rougher pace, but mostly there was a lot of waiting. On the Wii, that waiting has been mostly eliminated. The wagon and oxen are controlled with the analog stick. There are obstacles such as rocks and mud bogs, so you need to steer around those and avoid falling trees and boulders as you collect horseshoes, wagon wheels and crates. Such resources might restore health to the oxen, prevent the wagon from taking critical damage, and perhaps even add some supplies to your waning stock.
There are enough obstacles along the trail that it's difficult to avoid everything, so picking up lots of wheels and horseshoes becomes necessary. However, it can be difficult to tell if you're properly lined up with the loot. If you misjudge, no amount of analog stick nudging allows you to correct your path sufficiently. If you want to reach the end of the trail ahead of winter, you also have to move pretty quickly by periodically swinging the remote as if cracking a whip. Then, because you're moving so swiftly, any mistakes you make have a more significant impact. You have to spend a lot of time resting, and that consumes food that you then must replenish by hunting.
No, there isn't a "feed her to the wolves" option, and you should be ashamed for asking.