The Oregon Trail Deluxe
The Oregon Trail Deluxe is a 1992 game by the guys from MECC. Differs improved graphics from the original.
One of the oldest and most famous computer games, “The Oregon Trail”, in 2016 made by Time magazine in the list of fifty best representatives of this type of art of all time and peoples under the honorary number nine, first reached the IBM PC only in 1988 year - almost twenty years after its birth. Unfortunately, the unfading gameplay was next to that in this version, that in the 2.0 / 2.1 update that followed three years later, with the same graphics and the same texts that were different for the Apple II in the mid-1980s - so everything looked it is not particularly attractive. Of course, this could not continue for a long time, and already in 1991, the world saw the Deluxe Edition, or 3.0, converted to VGA video adapters with a 256-color palette and a resolution of 640x480.
The classic plot and all the mechanics have not changed at all here: we are still traveling in 1848 from Independence, in Missouri, to the Willamette valley in the Oregon promised land, struggling with obstacles, hunger and disease, and trying to bring to the goal your van and members families safe and sound - but outwardly the game has changed almost completely. Due to the increased resolution, the picture is exactly four times larger than the one for the “normal” DOS version, and the animated screensaver, along with the yellow background of the screen instead of the grim black, is very pleasing and tunes to a much more optimistic mood regarding the outcome of our long-distance journey. At the very beginning of the journey, it is traditional to choose the name of your protagonist and his family, a month to start, and the main character besides this is also a profession: instead of the three options, there are now as many as eight, differing not only in coefficients for points and the size of the wallet, but also in skills (for example, the doctor’s companions have a much greater chance of recovery in the event of an illness, and the farmer has a slightly stronger health already boasts). After we have wisely (or without) spent the amount given to us on the hands of the expedition equipment, we get to the main game window, where we have to spend almost the entire trip.
At first glance, the interface screen may seem somewhat overloaded: as many as six different sections replace a single window of the old DOS version, and this is not counting the double decorative frame, but the convenience of this solution is obvious. In contrast, it should be noted from aesthetics: for example, the view of a city or another attraction on which we are currently located, although it added to the color and volume of the palette, however, it does not take the whole screen now, but one of its sections is the top one in the second column on the left. As for the sound, the effects marked only some of the events (for example, shots on a hunt or unpleasant incidents on the way), and music, as before, sounds only when visiting a landmark - in the form of one of the historical melodies or folk songs , popular in the middle of the XIX century.
Under the above illustration on the screen is the caption to this picture, and even below is the detailed diary of the expedition with records of all incidents (and with the ability to scroll). The column to the right is allocated for useful information: the date on the calendar, weather conditions and temperature (in the form of a cute icon - the sun, clouds, etc. - and a thermometer), a pointer to the distance to the next point of interest on the Path and the size of the path we have already traveled, as well as the state and our party settings. The last item contains the speed of movement and the size of rations, the general level of health of family members, the number of available food stocks and just the current state of the expedition (we move, stand, rest or are late, i.e. lost our way or otherwise lag behind optimal route and schedule). Below in a separate section there are two special large buttons: “Options” for calling the main menu with settings (and even with the unusual ability to save your progress) and “Time Out / Continue” for pausing or resuming the path.
However, they will stop the course of inexorable time and other control buttons, located five in the extreme columns on the left and right. First of all, this is a map that replaces the location image and is displayed by default while driving, under a miniature animation of a van moving from right to left, sometimes with an approaching icon next to the sights. Unfortunately, neither this illustration, nor the map itself, unlike the previous version of “The Oregon Trail”, can be increased, and the inscriptions on the map are not provided - only symbols: forts, rivers, etc. (so they have updated VGA versions and some minor flaws, and not only advantages). But the second top left button allows you to deduce what the original didn’t have at all: the built-in mini-encyclopedia with, if not the most detailed, but very useful information about both the cities and other places we visit, and, say, about diseases, various Native American tribes and other things that the Wild West traveler can meet. No less convenient is the third button, “Status”, which displays (instead of the same main window with a map and animation) a list of the contents of our stocks, including cash, as well as a report on the health status of each family member who was so lacking. in the 1988 version. The fourth button on the left, as well as a similar right, will allow you to change the settings according to the issue of rations and the speed of movement of the van (in case you need to enter a strict diet mode or an especially fast drive for some reason - due to the inevitable deterioration of both our companions and us) , and the animals). The fifth button will allow you to go to the store for shopping - but only in the source city or in the forts (of course, the farther inland, the higher the prices).
If some of the necessary stocks suddenly run out, you can try to bargain on the principle of barter by clicking on the right upper button and specifying the desired type and quantity of goods - it is possible that in wilder places nearby there will be a suitable Indian, willing to change the food or ox on clothes or cartridges. But the next team, “Conversation”, is intended for use for purely educational and entertaining purposes: as in the previous version of the game, some soldier from the fort or the same immigrant, like ourselves, will always be happy to share a small and instructive story from own life. The third button on the right gives the rest team, - this is quite useful in the case of an expedition member of the disease or as a way to wait out bad weather. Finally, the last option on the lower right is a favorite hunt for many: in the deluxe edition, the business of getting food by ruthlessly exterminating the American fauna was much simpler, but at the same time it was, if I may say so, ecologized. This lesson is now presented in the form of a first-person shooting gallery - and hitting the hares, squirrels, antelopes, and especially bison or bears, is not easier to hit the mouse cursor over the screen than before. However, regardless of the "catch", you can take only 200 pounds of food at a time (or even less, depending on the number of surviving family members who can help with transportation) into the van: more than one bison or deer, so to organize the genocide of wild animals there is no sense. Especially since re-hunting in the same place is unlikely to happen because of the impoverishment of the territory we have already visited.
In general, the updated version of the famous educational game leaves the most pleasant impressions. Appearance here is definitely more preferable than the 1988 edition, however, apparently, it was not without some simplifications, as well as minor flaws: for example, in addition to the already mentioned inability to enlarge the map image, the diary messages about involuntary stops for some reason stopped accompanied by an indication of the number of days that we lost, and even random events themselves, such as the nighttime thefts of our property, seem to have become somewhat more rare. At the same time, this publication is the last for DOS, so it’s worth paying attention to the “improved” incarnation of the imperishable classics.