Oregon Trail

Listening to: A truck that's dying.

I've been playing Oregon Trail on my Blackberry recently and it's been an interesting experience to play something that's been remade from my childhood. The graphics have all been updated, but the core gameplay is still the same. You gather up your family, name them, and set off at a grueling pace to Oregon.

The mobile version, though prettier, lacks some of the crucial elements that made Oregon Trail on that floppy disk as fun as it was. You don't have the option to actually purchase items for your wagon. There's now no need to purchase wagon axles or wagon tongues. You just pick a wagon and you have a "Wagon Status Bar" that depletes over time. I guess it's like one of those "all in one" packages for the mighty, Oregon Trail traveler.

What about hunting, right? That's the part people enjoyed the most. Shooting 14,000 pounds of food and bringing back seven. The reticule is controlled via the keypad and you move it and shoot. Then you click to retrieve your kill (which appears as a chicken drumstick). You just can't hunt anywhere you like anymore. You just have to happen to cross a certain point on your travel where the wagon leader asks, "Hey, buddy, you want to shoot some animals in the face?" Well, not exactly like that. You do, however, now have the option to also go fishing. I enjoy that mini-game the most.

The game, unfortunately, is buggy as hell on the Blackberry. Sometimes it doesn't run, sometimes it crashes. It's worse than buying a used copy of Grand Theft Auto IV from Gamestop where it looks like someone used the disc to wax their car. It costs about $9.99 for your phone, depending on your carrier.

In any case, the game seems to have been dumbed down a bit to adhere to the "casual mobile game" rule. Something that won't have you engrossed for more than five minutes at a time or make you think too hard. A game that is essentially easy and lets you continue after everyone in your party has died.

As for my progress: Two of my family members were mauled by bears. One got lost and we left him behind. One died of measles. I'm the last one left, I've traveled about 1,000 miles and I think my character has Alzheimer's. Can't remember. Who are you people?