1985: The Best Game Ever
The Apple IIe version of The Oregon Trail that was released in 1985 represents a major milestone for the game’s lifepath. While there have been more releases of The Oregon Trail and many more millions have tried to make it to Oregon since then, the 1985 version sticks out like Chimney Rock on the horizon.
- Fun—If you’re gonna leave an impression with students, the obvious pre-requisite is that they’ve got to enjoy themselves. The Oregon Trail was challenging, but not too challenging. You selected whether to be a Banker, Carpenter or Farmer and you were hitting the trail pretty quickly.
- Freshness—Sure, we all laugh at the graphics now, but for its time, The Oregon Trail offered some pretty decent visuals. And the game also had a real knack for throwing up some moments that would make Spike Jonze proud. Heck, dunno about you, but we can’t think of anything else we ever did in school that turned something like dysentery into cause for celebration.
- Replayability—As Gamespot remarked, a lot of the genius of The Oregon Trail was that “the game was so simple to figure out from the get-go, yet a nearly endless number of combinations of disasters and misfortunes could present themselves as you traversed the trail.In fact, your party's fortune could reverse and ‘re-reverse’ so many times over such a short span that there was no way to properly predict what could happen.”
- Honesty—We’re not saying that The Oregon Trail was a complete, 100% accurate reflection of life on the trail, but it’s safe to say that it was not a fantasy adventure. From the landmarks and historical figures, to the types of decisions pioneers were faced with and the hardships, sicknesses and other negative aspects, The Oregon Trail stayed true to the history.