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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 accident happens, the game halts and the player must decide what to do in response. 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 21 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.
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. Finally, there is a skills screen where players may spend 120 points on extra skills: medical, farming/animals, botany, and sharpshooting, to name a few. Automatic skills, based on the occupation, are free. If the player does not select any skills, they will be converted into bonus points at the end of the game. Each skill raises the chance of something happening or not happening. For example, players with the botany skill are more likely to find edible plants. Players with the cooking skill are able to increase the nutrition value in their food.
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.
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. (Occupations listed in descending order in terms of cash on hand in the beginning of the game.)
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. For example, a teacher may begin the game with only $500, but receives a 5.0x score bonus. A banker starts off with $2000, but receives a 1x bonus (no bonus). If the banker uses his abundance of funds, he can buy the essentials for the journey immediately, and would need to resupply very few times over the course of the trip.
Along with selecting an occupation, the player must also choose if he wishes to be a:
- Greenhorn - A regular member of the wagon party, having no authority.
- Adventurer - Wagon train captain, elected to lead and choose different trails, but can be demoted to greenhorn if morale falls too low (and potentially re-elected in the future).
- Trail guide - Navigator, paid well and allowed to choose paths at trail forks. The trail guide can be fired if morale falls too low, thus ending the game.
There are four possible destinations. However, some destinations are available in different years: Oregon City (in earlier years, the Willamette Valley), Sacramento (in earlier years, the Sacramento Valley), Jacksonville, Oregon, (in earlier years, the Rogue River Valley), or Salt Lake City.
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.
Various animals are available during the game to bring along in your trek across the western territories, such as oxen, horses, mules, chickens, and milk cows. Different animals provide different uses: oxen are necessary to pull your wagon to your destination, chickens lay eggs for consumption, and so on. In the end of the game, the more draft animals you have, the better your score in that category.
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. 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 tool and is only really effective against large and small rodents. Killing larger animals, such as deer and bear, take multiple shots. The shotgun is effective against birds and other animals at close range, but does not have the range or power to take down buffalo. Overall, the rifle is the best firearm in the game, as it usually kills an animal, close or far, with one shot. Different ammunition must be purchased for the separate firearms in the stores. Without it, the guns cannot be used.
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:
- Injury (Animal bite, Snakebite, Sprained Muscle, Concussion, etc.)
- Illness (Cholera, Mountain fever, Dysentery, Bad Cold, Gangrene, etc.)
- Buffalo Stampede
- Strangers Approach
- Abandoned Wagons
- Severe Weather
- Obstructed Path
- Wild Fruit/Vegetables
- Gather Hay (in a Meadow, esp. before a Desert)
- Catch Fish
- River Crossing
- Death of Companion
- Hill/Mountain Climbing
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 or animal bite while hunting.
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 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; 4M of RAM (8M recommended); 12M 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; 5M RAM required (8M recommended); 13" display required (640x480, 256 colors); 12M 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. 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