Old CD’s: Games, Encyclopedia, Apps.

Reviews About Old Software on CD-ROM from the 1990’s

Oregon Trail II April 29, 2009

History & Mythology

Oregon Trail II

Pony Express is similar to Oregon Trail II (MECC/Softkey International ages 10 & up) in so many ways that there’s no doubt McGraw-Hill lifted a few tricks from that software classic. The time and place are nearly identical, except that in Oregon Trail II you control a family migrating West. When visiting towns you can interact with the locals and stock up on supplies; when on the road you make decisions (instead of using hand-eye coordination, like you do in Pony Express) to stay alive. Decide how to cross rivers, treat illnesses, deal with strangers, and keep morale high. Advice is usually available, but the game wouldn’t be terribly challenging even without the advice. The educational component of the disc is a slight thing indeed – you’re most likely to learn real historical data from the maps, and studying maps doesn’t require a CD-ROM. The rest of the game is mostly ambiance. You’ll run into cowpokes and other Western clich?s, none of whom teach very much (you will, however, come away with a basic sense of what the pioneers faced on the trail). We’re not crazy about Oregon Trail II – in fact, we prefer Pony Express Rider, even though it a shameless copy – but there’s no denying that it’s enjoyed a longer shelf life than most other programs. This is probably due to the fact that teachers who think it’s educational give it to kids who quickly realize it’s not, and are therefore happy to spend hours playing with it.

– November 1996

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