Journeying the 2000 miles of the Oregon Trail used to take a laborious six month hike through the steep mountains of the Continental Divide. Now, you just have to dig into the depths of your pockets and spend a good 2-3 hours running your fingers across a 9cm piece of glass.
It would take you longer to churn butter than run the iPhone's Oregon Trail, although it's just as rich. This stunningly vibrant remake rises to the top, combining humour and history in one trailblazing package.
Just as the more than quarter of a million emigrants did starting in 1834, The Oregon Trail sets you off from St Louis, Missouri. You lead a family of five along the rough trail, maintaining your wagon and keeping food in good supply.
The wellbeing of your family is balanced against the speed at which you travel. Travelling at a slow pace may keep your wagon in pristine condition, but it means eating more food because the trip takes longer, and risking a wintry arrival in Oregon. On the other hand, moving too fast tires out your family and wears down your wagon quickly.
2000 miles of trail is dotted with dozens of camps, river crossings, landmarks, and forts that mark your progress. These stops allow you to restock low supplies, talk with locals, and even take on simple quests such as delivering packages or competing in a wagon race.
Expanding on the educational appeal of the original Apple II release, dialogue with fellow trail-goers provides historical titbits and notable cameos that are as hilarious as they are informative.
Food stock can be replenished by purchasing goods at Matt's General Store in any fort, and you can trade with Native American villages along the route. You can also take part in hunting and gathering mini-games.
Touchscreen hunting makes shooting cuddly rabbits and nutty squirrels an easy tap. Bigger game like deer and buffalo, however, demand more effort. Fishing and a new berry foraging mini-game join the mix.
An assortment of other mini-games are tied to wagon repairs, gold mongering, river crossing, and telegraphing. Gold panning, in particular, earns recognition for tailoring to the handset's accelerometer. Tilting the device back and forth sifts out nuggets that you can collect with a tap of the screen.
While these mini-games won't have you stampeding to play The Oregon Trail, they do introduce an entertaining variety.
Improvements to the presentation and flow of play are also immediately apparent. The difficulty has been tweaked to ensure treatment along the journey, although random hazards remain as a reminder of the realities of trail life.
Vibrant vector graphics replace the pixels of old, bringing a fresh charm to this revamped release. Lengthy loading times are the price paid for this visual overhaul, unfortunately.
Having to wait a few seconds when moving between the trail and pit stops is slightly annoying, yet The Oregon Trail is so much fun to play that it's but a small hang up.
That such a dangerous trek could be transformed into such a cheeky adventure shows the rich craftsmanship of this modern mobile classic.