Oregon Trail CD is the descendent of one of the earliest educational software programs.
Users are presented with a very simple screen that provides 4 windows of information and tools: a small graphic simulating the movement of a wagon across the landscape, a progress line traced on a map, a daily journal, and a status scoreboard that monitors stores, health, and progress. None of the graphics are exceptional by today's software standards, but they are adequate to the task.
Users are challenged to make a series of decisions to guide their party from Independence, Missouri to Oregon's Willamette Valley, by covered wagon. These decisions begin with provisioning the wagon and choosing a departure date, through daily decisions relating to pace, restocking and direction. Users face an unending series of obstacles: fires, floods, injuries, no water, bad water, no grass, food spoilage, etc. The life-or-death decisions faced by the settlers are even reinforced by the loss of party members!
Our testers reported mixed results on this important measure of long-term interest-holding power. For those children interested in the old west, and American history, Oregon Trail was a big hit. "My son would go up to his room after school, and play until dinner," reported one parent.
Ease of Use / Install
The Oregon Trail hybrid CD installed easily on our tester's PC: she simply inserted the CD, and clicked on oregon.exe found under 'Run' in the Program Manager menu. Use was almost as simple, following the instructions provided on screen by the program.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
Oregon Trail CD is a very good interactive history experience for children interested in, or studying, American history. The Oregon Trail does an excellent job of bringing home to today's children the hardships endured by an earlier generation of Americans. But children who require the 3-dimensional, true color graphics of the latest video games to capture their attention will be disappointed in the presentation.