Nostalgia is huge in the gaming community right now, and The Men Who Wear Many Hats have tapped into that with their recent release of Organ Trail Complete Edition. I was one of those fortunate youths who use to play Oregon Trail on their Apple IIe and I loved that game. I want to say I was tricked into reviewing this game, but when I read the name on our review list I thought it was the classic version on PSVita. My editor broke it to me that it was a different game with a different title; I still chose to review it and I am very pleased that I did. The game is an homage to the original Oregon Trail wherein you must drive your covered wagon across the United States. However, instead of crossing the US to settle down, you are crossing the US to escape zombies.
The story isn’t the same caliber as a Naughty Dog or Bioware game, but it gets you hooked. You are trapped and surrounded by zombies and you run out of ammo shooting the zombies and a priest names Clements comes and saves your from a horrible fate. He asks you what happened to the rest of your party and you tell him that your three friends are in Washington D.C.. He tells you that you should join forces, and you hop in a nearby station wagon and begin your trip. Once you get to D.C. you find your friends and are given time to figure out what you want to scavenge. This is where the difficulty comes into play. When you first start the game you are offered four types of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Difficult, and Suicide. These difficulties affect how many supplies you can first scavenge, how far it is from landmark to landmark, and how many events happen to you as you travel. I opted with normal and hopped into the station wagon.
The graphics are a great homage to the much older Oregon Trail; It looks like you are playing an Atari game, but I loved it. The look and feel of the original are captured on the Vita’s screen and could bring a smile to the face of anyone who played Oregon Trail. Everything in the world is blocky and very pixilated; It’s not so bad that you can’t tell that you’re in a station wagon, but it leaves much to be desired in the world of photo-realistic video games. This in no way detracted from the experience for me, but it may for the newer gaming generation. The controls are quite simple as well. When you are scavenging for money, food, or car parts you have to shoot zombies or you won’t gain as many supplies. Basically, the longer you survive against the zombie hoards and grab items, the more supplies you will gain. However, the aiming system is difficult to master, as it goes against everything a gamer knows. Instead of using the left stick to aim you must use the right stick to aim your gun, pressing any button to fire. The stick is very sensitive, and while you’re trying to aim at the zombies you can miss shots which will cost you on your health bar once you get overwhelmed. The rest of the controls are very easy — You just use the touchscreen to make selections that the game gives you.
The point of this game is to survive on the road. You’ll watch your station wagon travel across the screen and as that happens, certain events can happen. Sometimes a party member is injured or there is damage to your vehicle, but you must persevere. While you drive you’ll get to landmarks in the game. A city, a house, or even a convenient shopping mall; There you can buy supplies, sell supplies, do some odd jobs for people, and repair your car. Once you’re done in town you can get back on the road again to continue your quest of survival. At one point after I did my business in Philadelphia I ran into a herd of zombies. The game prompted me with three decisions: Wait for the herd to leave, plow through them in the station wagon, or to sneak passed. I waited several times and when they didn’t disperse, I decided to run through them. Thankfully I succeeded, and older fans of Oregon Trail will remember the tense struggle when you had to ford a river with your covered wagon — This was very similar.
I enjoyed Organ Trail Complete Edition very much. The only thing that really took me out of it was the shoddy shooting controls; Had those been a bit tighter, this game would have almost hit 100% on the nostalgia meter. It was aggravating not being able to hit the zombies. The bad controls should not scare you away from this game, though. It’s a fun, quirky little title that will wow older gamers and make some of the younger gamers think of playing Oregon Trail. If you’re looking some something that isn’t too difficult and will take you back to the early 80’s, then this is the game for you. If you want to see where adventure games started, then by all means download this title and relive the days when Reagan was president.
A PSVita code for Organ Trail Complete Edition was provided by The Men Who Wear Many Hats for the purpose of this review