Oregon Trail II
Oregon Trail II is a video game released by MECC in 1996. It was published by SoftKey Multimedia.
It is a revised version of the original Oregon Trail computer game. It was redesigned with the help of American Studies PhD Wayne Studer. In contrast to the original version of the game, Oregon Trail II made an effort to include greater roles for women and racial minorities.
In addition to the regular edition, MECC released a 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Oregon Trail II Computer Game. The CD-ROM came with an official strategy guide and certificate of authenticity, all packaged in a commemorative wooden storage box.
Oregon Trail II includes far more detail than the original. For instance, rafting down the Columbia River is a much greater challenge than it was in the original game. Whenever an (e.g. an accident or illness) happens, the game halts and the player must decide what to do in response, so it is much more interactive. Players are also able to talk with other settlers along the way and ask their advice when needed.
This version also allows the player to choose between 20 years of travel (rather than 1 in the original) from 1840 to 1860. Travel is much easier in later years, as there are more towns and trading posts along the way to resupply your party. The online guidebook resource alters its displayed help based upon the year of travel, but not with the target and trailhead ends chosen — hence to read the book, one needs wade past pages of useless information applicable to sub-scenarios (such as alternate routes over a local regional stretch) one hasn't chosen. However at any point in the game, if the player dies, the game is over.
At the beginning ("New Game"), players may start a new game where they choose their name, occupation, level, date of travel, their starting point and destination, and type of wagon. Also, they may select how many others are with them in their wagon, along with their names and ages; this drastically added to the game's popularity as players could seemingly "live out" the journey with friends and family.
Outfitting the supplies and choosing the parties equipment of their journey becomes a possible point of player control leading to increased scoring chances. One has the option of taking a computer generated "package deal", ostensibly offered by the trailhead town's merchants and sized for five or six months of consumables. Or the player can shop the town and choose his own strategy, quantities, tools and so forth — or take the package then shop or trade in addition to that. One problem with the package is finding someone to trade you for something you want to get rid of or have less of, for something you'd rather take, get, or have. Conversely, some assets are only available by the package (e.g. Chains, anvils, plows) or by trading — though many of those can be purchased from merchants or blacksmiths farther down the trails.
Other options include loading a saved game, and the "quick start" option. Quick Start quickly generates options mentioned above for the player, with the only editable field being the name, and initiates a package deal with equipment.
In Oregon Trail II, the player can choose from a number of different occupations, many with different skills that can assist you in your journey across the west. Such occupations include banker, doctor, merchant, pharmacist, wainwright, gunsmith, mason, blacksmith, wheelwright, carpenter, saddlemaker, brickmaker, prospector, trapper, surveyor, shoemaker, journalist, printer, butcher, baker, tailor, farmer, pastor, artist, and teacher. Here is a complete list of the occupations:
(Occupations listed in descending order in terms of cash on hand in the beginning of the game.)
After selecting an occupation, the player can select various skills by clicking the word "Skills". Then a screen appears. The player chooses skills with a 120 point limit. Automatic skills are free. The more important the skill is, the more it costs. Each skill can make something good more likely to happen and something bad to less likely to happen.
Skill Cost What it does Medical 50 patients who get sick or injured are less likely to die Riverwork 50 less likely to have wagon accidents when crossing rivers Sharpshooting 50 more likely to kill animals in one shot Blacksmithing 40 more likely to repair broken wagon parts Carpentry 40 more likely to repair broken wagon parts Farming/animals 40 makes livestock less likely to die and makes your party immune to smallpox Tracking 30 more likely to find more animals to kill Botany 20 more likely to find edible plants Commerce/trade 20 more likely to get a better deal when trading Cooking 20 to get more nutrients in food Musical 10 boosting wagon train morale Sewing 10 makes clothing last longer Spanish 10 to translate from Spanish to English when talking to Spanish speaking people
While some occupations have more money than others, the low income occupations get a greater final bonus, which proves crucial in getting a decent score in the end of the game. However, if the player settles at a destination other than the one they had selected at the start of the game, they will not receive a bonus, regardless of their chosen occupation.
occupation Bonus banker no bonus doctor x1.2 merchant x1.4 pharmacist x1.6 wainwright x1.8 gunsmith x2.0 blacksmith x2.2 mason x2.4 wheelwright x2.6 carpenter x2.8 saddlemaker x3.0 brickmaker x3.2 prospector x3.4 trapper x3.6 surveyor x3.8 shoemaker x4.0 journalist x4.1 printer x4.2 butcher x4.3 baker x4.4 tailor x4.5 farmer x4.5 pastor x4.6 artist x4.8 teacher x5.0
Along with selecting an occupation, the player must also choose if he wishes to be a:
Level Description Greenhorn Regular member of the wagon party, routes are automatically chosen. However, Greenhorns, like the other two levels, still have control over the travel pace of the entire wagon train.. Adventurer Wagon train captain, allowed to choose paths at trail forks, but can be demoted to a Greenhorn when morale falls too low, but can be re-elected when morale goes up again. Trail Guide Same thing as an adventurer, but receives $500 when hired. When morale falls too low, the game will end.
Starting towns Here is a choice of starting points. However, some towns are not availible in all years.
Town Previous name (in earlier years) When it existed Independence N/A all years St. Joseph N/A 1842-1860 Council Bluffs Kanesville 1846-1860 Nauvoo N/A 1846-1860
Here are four possible destinations. However, some destinations are not availible in all years:
Destination When it existed Previous name (in earlier years) Oregon City all years Willamette Valley Sacramento all years Sacramento Valley Salt Lake City 1847-1860 N/A Jacksonville 1846-1860 Rogue River Valley
Especially in large towns, the game offers players an immense selection of supplies. Dozens of medicines, clothing items, food items and other miscellaneous essentials (and not so essentials) are available for purchase. During the beginning of the game, package deals are available up to six months of provisions. However, many perils in the game will cause many provisions to be lost or used for trade. Some feel it is prudent to purchase the largest package deal offered, but others challenge themselves to make it to Oregon without buying any food at all.
Another factor that plays into the game is the weight of your wagon. The more supplies, the heavier the wagon. After you reach your wagon's weight limit, you will not be able to continue on the trail and may have to dump goods, unless you haven't left town yet, in which case you can buy additional wagons to "split" the load.
Many items are potentially useless. An example is furniture, which serves no purpose other then added points at the end of the game and adds weight to the wagon. Such items include a grandfather clock, hope chest, and a kitchen cupboard. One exception being butter churns, which combined with a milk cow, can make pounds of fresh butter.
Various animals are available during the game to bring along in your trek across the western territories, all of which can be killed for food when necessary. All draft animals require special feed such as hay when crossing deserts, which can be gathered beforehand. Here is a table on the livestock the player can purchase.
Animal Description Cost Horses Can cover more ground quickly, but requires many to pull a heavy load, more likely to wander off. Despite what the Guidebook states, horses can survive on trail forage and do not require special feed. In Independence and St. Joseph, $82.50, In Nauvoo and Council Bluffs, $90.00 Mules Stronger, but slightly slower than horses, least prone to disease, most tolerant to high temperatures, requires less hoof care and water. In Independence and St. Joseph, $44.00. In Nauvoo and Council Blufs, $48.00 Oxen Strong, slow draft animal, highest endurance, most prone to sickness, most tolerant to cold weather, requires less to pull heavy loads compared to horses and mules, less likely to wander off and get lost. In Independence and St. Joseph, $11.00. In Nauvoo and Council Bluffs, $12.00 Chickens Provides fresh eggs for food or to trade, rides in cages tied to the wagon. Can be lost in accidents. In Independence and St. Joseph, $2.95. In Nauvoo and Council Bluffs, $4.00 Milk cow Provides gallons of milk, and if the player has one or more butter churns, will also give fresh butter for food or to trade, can replace an ox as a draft animal, will cease to produce milk if worked too hard. Can be lost in accidents. In Independence and St. Joseph, $55.00. In Nauvoo and Council Bluffs, $60.00 Pigs Has little purpose other than as a source of meat. Can be lost in accidents. In Independence and St. Joseph, $22.00. In Nauvoo and Council Bluffs, $24.00
On the trail
Trails and landmarks
On the trail, players will encounter many historically accurate landmarks, rivers, forts, and trading posts. The landmarks will change with time, as they did in real life. For example, if the player travels in 1860, there will be many trading posts, but those wouldn't exist in 1840. Also, famous trails other than the Oregon Trail are part of the game. These include the California Trail, Applegate Trail, and Mormon Trail.
Inside the game is the original hunting sub-game. In Oregon Trail II, the player can choose between three firearms for hunting: the pistol, the shotgun, and the rifle. The pistol is the most basic hunting weapon and is generally only effective against rodents. Killing larger animals, such as deer and bear, take multiple shots. The shotgun is (realistically) effective against birds and other animals at close range, but does not have the range or power to take down buffalo, as well as being somewhat unrealistically unsuccessful at long to medium ranges. Overall, the rifle is the best firearm in the game, as it usually kills an animal, close or far, with one shot. Ammunition and gunpowder are both required in order to hunt, purchasing a rifle or shotgun sheath can help prevent accidents.
Unlike in the first Oregon Trail, the hunting mini-game is played in a first-person perspective. The loud report of the firearms also causes animals to run away (if not hit), thereby making the game much more difficult.
During the course of the game, many random events may occur which may require a decision and impact the progress of your party, supplies or health. An incomplete list of these events include:
- Buffalo Stampede
- Prairie fire
- Strangers Approach
- Abandoned Wagons
- Severe Weather
- Missing person or livestock
- Wild Fruits or Vegetables
- Quicksand Ahead
- Obstructed Path
- Death of party members or animals
- Wagon Dust
- Wagon accident (Tipped Wagon, wagon caught on fire, broken parts, Wagon stuck in mud or deep sand, etc.)
Diseases and injuries also account as random events that typically occur with unpredictability, though this is not always the case. Here is a list of several ailments and other health problems that can happen to party members as well as the player.
- Accidental Gunshot (via hunting)
- Alkali Sickness
- Animal Bite (via hunting)
- Bad Cold
- Broken bone (arm, foot, hand, hip, or leg)
- Cuts and Abrasions
- Drowning (almost)
- Food Poisoning
- Mountain Fever
- Rabies (via Animal Bite)
- Scarlet Fever
- Smallpox (disabled with farming/animals skill)
- Snakebite (via rattlesnakes)
- Sprained joint (ankle, elbow, shoulder, or wrist)
- Typhoid Fever
- Water Poisoning
Some other unique aspects of the game include the California Gold Rush after 1848 and your ability to prospect for gold. The prospector occupation will typically find more gold than any others.
Besides getting kicked off the wagon train as a trail guide, there is another way the game can end prematurely for your character, regardless of position. If health drops too low, the player's character can die just as easily as his/her wagon party members. The main character usually will not get sick or injured unless the other party members have died, with the exceptions to this being an accidental gunshot, animal bite/mauling while hunting, starvation, thirst.
At the destination at end of the game, you can also read a "What Lies Ahead" section which describes what happens to the player's character after they settle. Also, the player is able to save his diary, kept by the computer that highlights the events of the journey. The player may also write in this diary himself. Finally, an extensive glossary and guidebook are available for players who want to learn more about the historic sites on the trail. The glossary gives information about the medicines, locations and famous people along the trail; while the guidebook comes in handy for wagon captains or trail guides who decide which route the train takes.
- Windows: 486 or higher; Windows 3.1 or higher (in 386 enhanced mode). Will work in Windows95; DOS 5.0 or higher; 256 color SVGA; 4 MB of RAM (8 MB recommended); 12 MB Hard Drive space; mouse; double speed CD-ROM; Windows-compatible sound card. The game will run on Windows XP and Windows Vista as well.
- Macintosh: 68030 required (LC III or greater), 68040 or Power Mac recommended; System 7.1 or higher; 5 MB RAM required (8 MB recommended); 13" display required (640x480, 256 colors); 12 MB Hard Drive space; double speed CD-ROM.
A remake of this game, entitled Oregon Trail 5th Edition, adds various new features to the game. The plant gathering feature was carried over from editions 3 and 4. This feature involves identifying which plants are edible and which are poisonous. The player can also go fishing. Updated graphics have been provided for river crossings. A cartoon has been added which plays at certain points in the game. The conversation pictures are no longer animated. The soundtrack of Oregon Trail II has also been removed, replaced with a single repeating audio loop.
Throughout the game, there are several figures from actual history you have the opportunity to meet and talk with. They are:
- Jim Beckwourth
- Jim Bridger
- John McLoughlin
- Joseph Pappan
- Thomas Smith
- John Sutter
- Louis Vieux
- Marcus Whitman and his wife, Narcissa
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