Organ Trailings

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Oregon Trail was a childhood staple of mine. In the many years since it's release it has become a fixture of cited gaming history, it's most notable quote, "You have died of dysentery" is often seen emblazoned across t-shirts, a not so subtle brand of the wearer's old-school gaming cred.

My introduction to Oregon Trail began in my 3rd grade classroom on a dinky Apple computer (the model escapes me) with a copy that was on a truly floppy disk. I recall the beginning of the school year. I deliberately chose the seat nearest that computer so that during our free-play times I could quickly slip into the coveted seat and boot up Oregon Trail before any of my classmates. I got a reputation as a skilled hunter, though my luck at river crossings seemed unusually abysmal compared to my friends.

The original being so near and dear to my young nerdling heart meant that I had high standards for The Organ Trail, a zombie themed ode to the original by The Men Who Wear Many Hats. Organ Trail hit me on the nostalgia bone hard. I found myself feeling like I was back in my old classroom, the air thick with the smell of Elmer's Glue and chalk, my hands over my face while peeking through fingers to see if my decision to ford a river had met with disaster.

In a time when most everything in games and visual media comes in some flavor of zombie it is easy to feel like an overdone theme. The Men Who Wear Many Hats make it dance (or shuffle?) for them when applied against the familiar Oregon Trail framework and the result is a delightful slice of retro-style gaming.

The basic story of Organ Trail is the harrowing journey you and a small group of your Zombie Apocalypse™ survivor friends take from east coast to the west, trying to survive zombie hoards, bandits, scarcity, injury and illness as you fight your way to a "Safe Zone".

While you may assume that Organ is simply a zombie skinned take on Oregon Trail, you couldn't be more wrong. While it does hold true to the original in many aspects, it is solidly it's own game. Organ isn't just a piece of whimsy but it's own intricate challenge that I believe will be thoroughly enjoyable to those who don't have a previous association with MECC's Oregon.

Organ Trail: Director's Cut is available for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.

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And you haven't taken the classic Oregon Trail for a spin (recently or at all) you can give it a whirl here.