The Yukon Trail
|The Yukon Trail|
|Genre(s)||Simulation, educational, strategy|
The Yukon Trail is a 1994 computer game from MECC, the creators of The Oregon Trail. The game is based around the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century. Players start out in Seattle, where they must partner up, secure travel, and purchase needed provisions.
The game starts in Seattle in August 1897 (right before the actual Gold Rush). The player is presented with a wharf, but must first go downtown, where there is a ticket office and a shop called Pioneer Outfitters. The game does not allow the player to purchase anything until they choose a partner. Partners can only be found at the ticket office, which is where the player is directed. One of the following partners can be chosen: an experienced miner named Sadie who struck it rich in Colorado before gambling away all her gold in a game of poker, a native of the Yukon called Linda (her actual name is not given), a carpenter named Jake, or a businessman named Midas T. Golden. Each partner has unique advantages over the others: the miner collects gold more effectively, the native can carry more weight, the carpenter can build and repair more effectively, and the businessman has more money. After selecting a partner the player purchases two tickets for one of three ships to Skagway or one of three ships to Dyea. Tickets are more expensive for ships that depart immediately, and less expensive for those departing later. The player can buy equipment and food for the journey at Pioneer Outfitters, or they can wait until they get to Alaska. There is also a peddler at the wharf who will sell two of the following items: "gold-sniffing" gophers, a trail bicycle, a folding canvas boat, eggs, caviar, or kittens. Three of the peddler's items are relatively worthless: the gopher will walk out during the claim, the bicycle will accidentally be stolen by another passenger in the ship to Dyea or Skagway or thrown overboard by the captain, because he says it's impossible to get over the mountains on a bike, and the folding canvas boat will be confiscated when a player arrives in Lake Bennett. The kittens was worthless before the player reaches Dawson City, but as they mature they can be resold. However, the eggs and caviar are originally resold at a profit. The player's partner can offer advice on purchasing tickets, outfits, or anything else, but it is not always wise to heed their advice. For instance, some partners encourage the player to delay buying supplies until they arrive in Alaska, where supplies are more expensive, or to buy the peddler's worthless items. Advice given depends on which partner is chosen.
Once the player and partner get tickets, they go to the wharf where, depending on the ship chosen, they either board immediately, wait a week, or wait two weeks. Upon reaching their destination, either Skagway or Dyea, they can purchase any supplies that were not bought in Seattle, gamble, or head for either the White Pass trail or the Chilkoot trail. The White Pass is longer, but easier, and the Chilkoot is shorter, but harder. The player can also hire packers in the two cities that would haul their supplies to the respective routes. Gambling involves three games called Yukon, a card game located in the saloons of Dyea and Skagway (the rules of which are similar to War), an arcade with a host that would tell you the best place to find gold in change of $5, however, she will only tell it if you get exactly 1000 points and "find the nugget", located in Skagway, where a gold nugget is placed under one of three cups, which are shuffled. If the player bets $1, the game is made very easy. If the player bets the higher amount, the game is rigged so it is impossible to win. When reported to the bar manager, he "claims" he will get your money back, but actually does not. Gambling can be turned off in the preferences menu.
The Yukon Trail gives children plenty of opportunities to think about the situation, giving many options and many possible consequences for each event, thus building problem solving skills. The initial choice players make on the trail, and can constantly change if wished, is the load personally carried. A smaller load results in the ground moved each day to become shorter (as some of the supplies have to be left behind and then returned for). Moreover, the trail becomes much more difficult to travel when encroaching upon the winter months. However, a larger load will result in a higher probability of the player or partner being injured.
Midway down the trail, the player and partner stop at a camp. They can then buy or sell goods before climbing the mountain pass leading to the Canadian border where they pay a toll to pass into the Yukon Territory. The North-West Mounted Police will not let them pass unless they have 1000 pounds of food per person.
Along the trail, numerous random events can occur. Random events include: someone being injured (the player decides to continue at a slower pace or to rest), theft of food, rockslides, crowds of people or abandoned animals, and sudden inclement weather.
The player and partner arrive at Bennett Lake after hiking into Canada. While there, they meet the legendary Mountie Sam Steele. During the winter they need to build one of three boats. To do this they must acquire a whipsaw if they do not already have one. To get one they can easily trade food. Once the spring arrives and the ice has melted, the player and partner can embark with their boat. Depending on the date of their arrival at Lake Bennett, Sam Steele will let them depart right away, or have them wait two or four days before departure.
On the river, the speed is determined by the type of boat chosen, and how much damage it has sustained. The choices for boats include a dinghy, a raft, or a canoe. The dinghy is balanced, the raft handles well but is slow, and the canoe is fast but handles poorly. There are a few minigames, which involve guiding the boat away from rocks and whirlpools. After the minigame, if the boat has been damaged, the player can choose to repair the boat or build an entirely different one.
The player and partner will eventually reach Dawson City, where they are presented with a map of claims they can stake. There, they meet Nellie Cashman and author Jack London. Once they have staked a claim, they can begin searching for gold. With the arrival of winter, the game ends. The player's score is determined by the amount of money they have (from the entire journey, including gold). Most claims will yield small amounts of gold, but at least one claim can get you the high score.
Periodically, the player stops at landmarks along the journey, where players can learn historical facts about each location. Some include the Dead Horse Trail, the totem poles, and the three rapids: Miles Canyon, White Horse Rapids and Five Finger Rapids.
A hidden menu can be accessed by going to the management tab, clicking enable management, and entering the password MECC.
- The screenshots on the jewel case show the player accumulating gold bars at #1 Below Bonanza Creek. This is the ultimate goal, but is nigh impossible to accomplish.
- Chechacko Hill is always available and will always result in the player making a fortune.