Contrary to popular belief, the people of Oregon do not reside in covered waggons, wear raccoon skin hats, and trade with Native Americans.
These days, we gamble at reservation casinos, buy clothes at malls, and relive the pioneering days of westward expansion inside coffee shops insulated from the rain.
Which makes The Oregon Trail coming to iPhone all the more pertinent to the Oregonian and, more importantly, gamer on the go. What once was a lesson in both history and early computing is an adventure that fits in your pocket.
Immediately apparent is the visual shift both in quality and style as The Oregon Trail finds a new home on iPhone. Gone are the sprites and pixels of previous iterations, replaced with colourfully drawn backgrounds and caricatures.
Familiar historic figures such as President Lincoln and Samuel Morse have been given a total cartoon makeover, popping up along the route to hand off friendly advice and side missions.
The trail has been expanded, not only with a greater number of stops but also more branches. Not every location can be visiting in a single trip down the trail; instead, multiple excursions are encouraged to travel down every fork in the road.
It will take a couple hours to make it from Independence to Oregon City, but the game saves your progress at every stop along the way. The game's length doesn't preclude a lack of portable play, as short-session mini-games allow you to pick it up for a few short minutes.
New mini-games and tweaks to existing ones also mark the game's enhanced release. Hunting, a staple of the original, is controlled completely via taps of the screen. As cute and cuddly animals dart across the screen, all you need to do to haul some meat back to the waggon is tap to shoot.
Waggon repairs have been reworked to support touch controls, letting you hammer nails to fix broken parts with an aggressive tap.
One new mini-game involves berry-picking, which had previously been a random event along the trail. Foraging for berries is now done via a reaction-based mini-game where you tap berries as they flash on the screen.
Also added here is a Simon-says Morse code mini-game accessible whenever you visit a town's post office. Tapping team-powered telegraphs as they light up in increasingly longer chains let you rack of points along the trail.
Without a doubt, the choice mini-game nugget has to be gold panning. As your character holds onto a metallic pan, tips and tilts of your handset allow you to swash water around and make any particles of gold sink to the bottom.
While new mini-games like gold panning don't change the core experience, these additions distinguish this release as enhanced for the device.
The Oregon Trail stands as an example of how classic games can be remade for modern play without losing nostalgic lustre or alienating with outdated design.
We've already thoroughly enjoyed the mobile version released last summer, so we're eager to see this enhanced version release next week to the App Store.