Oregon Trail II
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|Oregon Trail II|
|Release date(s)||June 27, 1996|
Oregon Trail II is an educational video game released by MECC in 1996. It was published by SoftKey Multimedia. It is a revised version of the original Oregon Trail computer game. It was redesigned with the help of American Studies PhD Wayne Studer. In contrast to the original version of the game, Oregon Trail II made an effort to include greater roles for women and racial minorities.
In addition to the regular edition, MECC released a 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Oregon Trail II Computer Game. The CD-ROM came with an official strategy guide and certificate of authenticity, all packaged in a commemorative wooden storage box.
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Oregon Trail II includes far more detail than the original. For instance, rafting down the Columbia River is a much greater challenge than it was in the original game. Whenever an event(e.g. an accident or illness) happens, the game halts and the player must decide what to do in response, so it is much more interactive than the previous version. Players are also able to talk with other settlers along the way and ask their advice when needed.
This version also allows the player to choose between 20 years of travel (rather than 1 in the original) from 1840 to 1860. Travel is much easier in later years, as there are more towns and trading posts along the way to resupply your party. The online guidebook resource alters its displayed help based upon the year of travel, but not with the target and trailhead ends chosen—hence to read the book, one needs wade past pages of useless information applicable to sub-scenarios (such as alternate routes over a local regional stretch) one hasn't chosen. However at any point in the game, if the player dies, the game is over.
At the beginning ("New Game"), players may start a new game where they choose their name, occupation, level, date of travel, their starting point and destination, and type of wagon. Also, they may select how many others are with them in their wagon, along with their names and ages; this drastically added to the game's popularity as players could seemingly "live out" the journey with friends and family.
Outfitting the supplies and choosing the parties equipment of their journey becomes a possible point of player control leading to increased scoring chances. One has the option of taking a computer generated "package deal", ostensibly offered by the trailhead town's merchants and sized for five or six months of consumables. Or the player can shop the town and choose his own strategy, quantities, tools and so forth—or take the package then shop or trade in addition to that. One problem with the package is finding someone to trade you for something you want to get rid of or have less of, for something you'd rather take, get, or have. Conversely, some assets are only available by the package (e.g. Chains, anvils, plows) or by trading—though many of those can be purchased from merchants or blacksmiths farther down the trails. If a player decides to buy supplies without the package, the player may buy chains or anvils from Westport, Fort Kearny or Fort Laramie. All forts or towns with a blacksmith's shop will sell chains, nails (measured in pounds), and anvils.
Other options include loading a saved game, and the "quick start" option. Quick Start quickly generates options mentioned above for the player, with the only editable field being the name, and initiates a package deal with equipment. In a "quick game", the player automatically has 4 others, the 5 month package deal, a large farmwagon, is a banker, and starts from Independence, Missouri.
In Oregon Trail II, the player can choose from a number of different occupations, many with different skills that can assist you in your journey across the west. Such occupations include banker, doctor, merchant, pharmacist, wainwright, gunsmith, mason, blacksmith, wheelwright, carpenter, saddlemaker, brickmaker, prospector, trapper, surveyor, shoemaker, journalist, printer, butcher, baker, tailor, farmer, pastor, artist, and teacher. After selecting an occupation, the player can select various skills. Each skill can make something good more likely to happen and something bad to less likely to happen.
Especially in large towns, the game offers players an immense selection of supplies. Dozens of medicines, clothing items, food items and other miscellaneous essentials (and not so essentials) are available for purchase. During the beginning of the game, package deals are available up to six months of provisions. However, many perils in the game will cause many provisions to be lost or used for trade. Some feel it is prudent to purchase the largest package deal offered, but others challenge themselves to make it to Oregon without buying any food at all.
Another factor that plays into the game is the weight of your wagon. The more supplies, the heavier the wagon. After you reach your wagon's weight limit, you will not be able to continue on the trail and may have to dump goods. Animals can be found along the trail to be killed and eaten for food.
On the trail, players will encounter many historically accurate landmarks, rivers, forts, and trading posts. The landmarks will change with time, as they did in real life. For example, if the player travels in 1860, there will be many trading posts, but those wouldn't exist in 1840. Furthermore, some of the trading posts and forts that exist in the earlier years become abandoned in later years. Also, famous trails other than the Oregon Trail are part of the game. These include the California Trail, Applegate Trail, and Mormon Trail.
The Oregon Trail was used for the emigration of settlers heading for Oregon. The California Trail was much like the Oregon trail, but used for other purposes besides settling. The California Trail started from Fort Hall and ended in Sacramento, California. It was used for the California Gold Rush from 1849 and on. The Mormon Trail was used by Mormons, who were people who traveled from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah, seeking religious freedom. The Applegate Trail was a branch of the California Trail that ended in Jacksonville, Oregon. The Applegate Road passed the Black Rock Desert into California's Siskiyou Mountains. It reached Jacksonville following the nearby Siskiyou Trail, which became US Route 99 and the modern-day Interstate 5.
There is also a hunting minigame and random events that impact party progress, supplies, and health.
A remake of this game, entitled Oregon Trail 5th Edition, adds various new features to the game. The plant gathering feature was carried over from editions 3 and 4. The "Wild Fruits and Vegetables" event from Oregon Trail II is removed. This feature involves identifying which plants are edible and which are poisonous. (Incidentally, the option to "go look for edible plants" whenever someone is diagnosed with scurvy was kept.) The player can also go fishing. Updated graphics have been provided for river crossings. There are also added cinematics which follows the fictional journey of three children, Parker, Cassie, and Jimmy, who leave Independence accompanied by an African-American trailblazer named Captain Jed Freedman to search for the children's father in Oregon. Various points of the children's story are triggered when the player reaches a certain destination on the trail, which ranges from dangerous experiences (Jimmy contracts snakebite) to campfire scenes in which Captain Jed would tell a story that reflects other historically accurate incidents (e.g. the Donner Party, the California Gold Rush, and the Santa Fe Trail). The conversation pictures are no longer animated. The soundtrack of Oregon Trail II has also been removed, replaced with a single repeating audio loop.