Monday, April 16, 2012

The Oregon Trail: Going Back to 1848...

     I think that one of the greatest advantages to growing up in the 90s was having the game The Oregon Trail.


1. It's badass.
2. It taught me about history.
3. It taught me that you can't expect your 16 oxen to pull a full covered wagon safely across a huge 6 foot deep river without a Shoshoni Indian.
4. It makes me both appreciate and resent modern technology.

     This game is actually really nostalgic for me, and I have some pretty vivd memories about it. I specifically remember deciding that the best strategy was to accumulate as many oxen as possible. I could give a shit if the humans died. My ultimate goal was to get all of the oxen safely to the new world. I can't exactly say why I thought this was necessary, but I was definitely convinced that this was the only way to win the game.

     And all of those fucking rivers and stupid rattlesnakes killed all of my oxen. Every. Frickin'. Time. Did any of my annoying children (Usually named things like Jebediah or Laura or Judy) die from that shit? NO. My glorious, formidable, massive team of oxen suffered. 

     Anyway, enough about my strange obsession with 8-bit oxen.

     I recently had a weird dream about this game. (Actually, it was also related to food, probably because I hand't eaten all day before I laid down for a nap.) In my dream, I was in the game, and I was slowly dying because whoever was playing it kept feeding me "bare bones" portions of food. I woke up both inspired and starving. 

     So I ate a slice of cheesecake. I would need all of the strength I could muster for what I was about to do next. I mean, how could I possibly get from Independence, Missouri to Oregon on an empty stomach?

I found the old version of this game here. And then I began my epic journey....

...along the Oregon Trail...

Of course, before I actually started, I had to get into character...

So the first thing I noticed when I began my epic journey was how completely shitty video game graphics used to be. I'm not sure what I was expecting, or why I assumed that I would be able to see facial features on each of my characters. Incidentally, this only fueled my excitement. I mean, think about it. I was going back in time to the 90s playing the game, and I was going back in time to 1848 in the game. I went back in time squared.

At the beginning of the game, I got to decide who I would be. Since "Trapeze artist in a traveling pioneer circus" was not an option, I chose "Carpenter from ohio," which I assumed would give me an advantage if my wagon broke down.

I was then asked to name my characters. Back in the day, I usually named them things that I assumed were appropriate for the time period, like Jebediah or Samuel or Judy. I remember thinking I was pretty cool for know old-timey names and being able to properly insert them into my virtual pioneer life.

But on this day, I went with some different choices.

Then you have to decide what to buy to take with you. I tried to type in 80 oxen, but they only let you input 1 digit. BULLSHIT.

When I first saw this screen, my original thought was that the image of the wagon was loading onto the screen. I figured it was going to take a while, and the game wanted me to know that. I guess it was actually telling me that my characters were loading their wagon with supplies....

This is a map of the trail. As you can see, the path to LA would have been much quicker, and much less strenuous.

My wagon set out on April 1st and fucking Waffles already broke his frickin' arm. 

The obvious choice was to take a ferry across, since I wanted all of my oxen to live...


By this time, I had been playing the game for almost an hour. I checked the map a million times, hoping I was nearing the end, but I wasn't. I knew what I had to do to keep myself going. And I took one for the 11 AM...

I stopped paying attention at a certain point because this game is way more boring than I thought it would be, and my stupid family ate most of the food, so I was forced to hunt. By the way, hunting involves the arrow keys and the space bar, which makes it extremely difficult. Your hunter is also positioned in the most awkward places and you can't move him around much at all. Lucky for me, I'm quite skilled at shooting little dots at 8-bit bears.


Dysentery: "Infection of the intestines resulting in severe diarrhea with the presence of blood and mucus in the feces." Goddamnit, Junior....this is an inconvenience to the whole crew...

So at this point both Waffles AND Skip had broken arms. I wish this game was called "The Donner Party" trail, because I definitely would have had the family eat those gimp arms since they were running out of food.

And we quickly discovered that Skip was clearly the weakest link.

Now here's something that I found completely bullshit. THE THIEF IS RIGHT FUCKING THERE. We are looking at him, dead on, stealing our shit on the right hand side of the screen. Is this game really telling me that I can't grab my rifle and kick some ass? Also....he stole clothing? Really? It's like two weeks ago when my own car got broken into and they took useless shit. Was this thief on LSD?

My group started running really low on food, so I switched them over to "bare bones" portions to save up so I would't have to do any more hunting. Is it bad that I felt a strange sense of maniacal pleasure as I enjoyed my cheesecake and wine...?

During the game, you have the option go talking to people when you are at different forts. I took every opportunity I could to utilize this option. And look! It totally paid off. I learned something!

...And I also got some completely useless comments...

...And by the way, who the heck is Aunt Rebecca?

And then.... I realized that this game is way more advanced than I ever could have imagined. I was interrupted by breaking news!!

NOOOOOOO! NOW who will inspire me to Just Dance!? 

 Now this is just weird. Why exactly is this necessary? I mean, of course I typed "Y" for "HECK YES," but I'm not convinced that it made much difference...

And also, who the heck is Connie and who the heck cares?

MONTHS later, (And it literally felt like months....this game took way too freaking long) Thor finally made it to Oregon....alone. I had managed to kill all three of his children and his baby mama (Hey, I don't officially know if they were married...). However, four oxen survived. And I am still convinced that having so many is the only reason Thor made it at all. Without them, everyone would have died. See? STRATEGY SUCCESSFUL!

Oh, and fuck you, Stephen Meek. You have a pussy last name and I hope that you're still trapped in the 90s.

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