I’ve not seen such bravery The Oregon Trail was a series of games that chronicled the journey to Oregon that many took during the 1800s. The games were popular, not only during my journey through Elementary school, but through schools across the country. The Oregon Trail games became staples of the edutainment genre, so it’s only natural that MECC, the developer of the series, created some spin-offs to try and cash in on the gold they’d struck. With the Yukon trail, MECC did this quite literally, by basing a game around the 19th century Klondike gold Rush. Now, I haven’t played this one, but it seems to be rather similar to the Oregon Trail, in that it’s trying to teach children about life around a specific historic event. Enter the Amazon Trail, a game released in 1994. The Amazon Trail, well as far as I know, it’s just the Amazon river, and it’s hard to guess what specific time period the developers might pick. I mean it’s not like the Amazon River ever became not important. Now the game doesn’t cover a specific period of history like the Oregon trail did. It covers, well, we’re gonna figure that out together. Specifically, we’re gonna take a look at Amazon Trail 2 and just take a moment to really appreciate this box art here because, it looks like the early 90s just kind of threw up all over it. When I think about the Amazon river the first three things that come to my mind are soccer moms in denim vests, Microsoft WordArt, and neon pink. and neon pink. Mmm. Alright, okay, couple of questions here. I’m a bit confused about the font choice. I mean that’s a concern that carries over from the cover. I mean this doesn’t really scream “Amazon Trail” to me.
It screams, I don’t know, Mattress Depot? And this thing over here looks like someone saw the title screen and thought the same thing. “You know it just doesn’t look ‘Amazon’ enough.” “Just throw some tribal crap in there.” “Oh, that looks perfect!” “And hey, you know what my daughter drew this picture of a…” “I don’t know. I think it’s a cheetah or something. Think you can put that in there?” “Ah” “It’s perfect!” Alright New Quest and let’s go with the middle difficulty, because, I don’t know, this cheetah thing is really making me feel like this isn’t gonna be that hard of a game. I think we can handle it. We walk into the museum of ancient art and make a beeline for this artifact . Like, I don’t want to see anything else. I just got to see this… What is it, a bear medallion? Only it’s not a bear, because the drawing made by a three year old turns into a drawing made by a four year old and we can clearly see that it’s a leopard, maybe? Leopard: The Amazon Rainforest is calling to you. The birds and the mammals, Leopard: the flowers and the trees, Leopard: invite you to discover their secrets. Yeah, okay So, we’re supposed to uncover the secrets of the birds, mammals, flowers, and trees of the Amazon. Silly me, I completely forgot about the infamous Amazon tree and flower mystery. Now, I’m super invested in this game. Leopard: The ancient ones have a message for the world. Leopard: They want you to deliver it for them, but Leopard: you must prove yourself worthy. Leopard: Come now into the blue mist. Leopard: Come with me to the mighty Leopard: Amazon River! M’kay, so from what I can tell, the Ancient Ones want to tell the world something. So, they’ve enlisted the help of a cartoon leopard to hang out inside a piece of art at a historic art museum, so that he could meet me and tell me to follow him to the Amazon River, so that I can unlock the secrets of the birds, mammals, flowers, and trees. Ahh, I remember the days when a game was like, “Hey! This is the Oregon Trail. Now go on the Oregon Trail.” Those were the days. Leopard: I have brought you to Belem, a great city at the mouth of the Amazon River. Leopard: From here you must find the source. You must travel all the way up the Amazon. Leopard: You must find Vilcabamba, my hidden fortress in the Andes Mountains.
*Construction Noises* Leopard: Be brave on your journey. *Ship’s Horn* Leopard: I will be watching over you.
*Seagull squawks* Was that last voiceover recorded in a busy construction site on a beach or something? I’m not a hundred percent sure what he said, but I think we have to find a fortress called Vilcabamba in the Andes Mountains, and we’ll do so with the power of TOURISM Our adventure starts at Amazon River Tours and we’re greeted by a cast of five Fashion Divas. and one of these four will become our tour guide. First, there’s Elena, the navigator in orange. There’s Joao, the strongest tour guide of all. A fact he likes to remind us of by flexing every two seconds. Rosa, who obviously didn’t want to be taken seriously at all, because she’s wearing all brown and carrying this awful looking spear. Heh. Sure, you can. Finally we have Miguel, the pastiest of them all. Miguel looks less likely to be the best guide in Belem And more likely to be the leader of the best group of cub scouts in your neighborhood. But leading me down the Amazon? I mean this guy looks like he hasn’t even seen the sun in 20 years. How is he gonna help me on this journey? Miguel: I’m studying to be a doctor. A doctor, you say? Well, considering that my trip to Oregon was cut short due to an accidental gunshot, I would say that having a doctor by my side might help out. Also, I kind of want to see if this guy will burn to a crisp while we’re out there. Next we have to pick our supply package, but graphs are just so boring, so I’m just gonna pick one randomly. I’m sure we’ll be fine. It’s finally time to continue to the Amazon River. We don’t even have time to stop and wonder why the continue arrow is facing backwards. Or do we? Hmmmm…. Instead of just watching a line crawl across a map, like we did an Oregon Trail 2, Amazon Trail 2 actually lets us navigate the River ourselves in our little canoe. Unfortunately, I have no idea where we’re going, so we’re forced immediately to ask Miguel where to go. Miguel: According to the map Miguel: We should be right about here. I can only hope that he prescribes medicine as confidently as he navigates. Not two seconds into the trip and he can only be like “We should be somewhere in this red box… Maybe.” I suppose we’ll just keep heading West. I’m not totally sure where we’re headed, but I guess it’s like in this area. Well, here we are out on the Amazon It’s so very Exciting. I guess. Okay. What’s happening now? *Blue Mist Intensifies* Leopard: We have passed through the blue mist to another time and place. Okay, I guess I completely forgot about Amazon’s famous magical blue mists. At least now we know that our animal friend is a Jaguar though. So there’s that. Alright. Let’s see what we got here. Some water, some houses, some people. Wow, you know I’m really glad we made this urgent break in our journey to Vilcabamba or wherever the fuck. Villager Welcome to my home. Oh, why thank you you have a lovely home filled with, from what I can tell, absolutely nothing. And dang it. You know it’s already getting kind of late, so I’m gonna go back to the river now. Bye! Jaguar: That woman has something to teach you. Jaguar: If you want to learn, go back and find out more about who she is. Oh, I see how it is. This isn’t a magical jaguar god sending me on an amazing Amazon expedition. This is the teacher standing right behind my back and saying , “Oh hey, Ian you were trying to have some fun there for a second, but you missed some learning. Why not go back and talk to that nice lady there? Villager: You’ll probably recognize this. It’s a banana Oh, you see? You almost missed her telling you what a banana is. Have you ever heard of bananas? Villager: In the rainforest, you can find them near the top of small trees. Oh, wow look at all this other stuff I could eat if I ever happen to get stranded on the Amazon River. Thanks, Magic Jaguar. Jaguar: You have done well Jaguar: The knowledge you have gained will help you on your journey Jaguar: To mark your achievement, I will place this token on my shield. Oh well, you know, if I’d known I was gonna get a shield token I would have tried twice as hard. I guess we made it out of the blue mist because we’re back in our canoe. No time to relax though, because, Miguel: We’re running low on fish Miguel: You might want to go fishing. Oh, I’m sorry, Miguel, was my travelling through time and space to learn about bananas an inconvenience for you? Or is giving me attitude just part of the Amazon river tour experience? Fishing is the equivalent to hunting in the Oregon Trail games. Only instead of slaughtering your future food to death with a gun, which is Fun and exciting, you do this. So, after getting some more fish, so Miguel would stop whining, we’re actually heading down the river again. Finally. We got to make it to that…
Where are we going again? I forget what we’re even doing here, but at least I know what a banana is. Not long after we finished fishing, we’re sucked back into the blue mist, this time so we can talk to Claudio and learn about his awesome National Park. Claudio: I am Claudia Villas Boas. My brothers and I have recently convinced the Brazilian government to establish the Xingu National Park. That’s not super interesting to me, so let’s just leave. Jaguar: There is more for you to do here. Oh sorry. I mean please, Claudio, tell me more. Turns out that there’s a tribe of people on the Amazon river that want nothing to do with Claudio, his national park, or his stupid hat. Even though they want nothing to do with them, he asked us to track him down, so I guess we’re gonna go do that. I suppose that the message from the gods can wait while I go do some soliciting. These people obviously want nothing to do with this guy because, they’re hiding way over here keeping their distance I gotta say, navigating this boat is harder than I expected it to be. I may or may not have gotten lost a couple of times… Aha! We’re finally here and could we really not have found anyone else to act as a person from a tribe living on the Amazon River? Like, I mean, just because you’re wearing black that doesn’t make you look… Okay, I can’t even look at this anymore, so let’s just do this. There we go. Much better. Okay, so are you guys gonna go to this reservation? Villager: Tell everyone to leave us alone. Of course not. What a waste of time. Glad we did it. Jaguar: The ancient ones are pleased with what you have done. So this seems to be the entire game, as far as I can tell. Long periods of sitting in a boat, most of the time just moving straight ahead and seeing nothing of interest. Then there’s the blue mist segments, where you travel through time and space to help out famous figures like Henry Ford because, Henry Ford: I am Henry Ford Why not? I gotta say I miss having a party like in the Oregon trail. It feels really lonely and boring just being out here with Miguel, but my real problem started when I met Linda, an Anthropologist who is sporting some bellybutton-high, hot pink shorts, which I hear are oh, so trendy in the Amazon this season. Linda: –Anthropologist is a scientist who lives with the community for long periods of time Linda: to study their way of life. After telling me what an Anthropologist is, Linda just kind of stands there and does nothing. Jaguar tells us that she can help me meet an important person, but all she seems to want to do is smile at me and point at her clipboard. I think the game must be broken. I can’t really do anything, so I guess I gotta disobey the Jaguar God and leave this section early. I know that I ought not disobey our feline deity, but the temptation to sin only grew stronger. After a long, long, long period of just sitting in the canoe doing nothing, I finally traveled through another blue mist. This time, we meet a colonel who’s travelling with Teddy Roosevelt who has apparently gone missing. Jaguar God: Teddy Roosevelt needs your help Sorry, Teddy, I’ve got to get to Vilcabamba for some reason. I don’t really care what you’re up to. Doesn’t look like there’s any consequence for skipping, so let’s just move on. But as I left Teddy Roosevelt behind, I couldn’t help but feel afraid. As though something horrible was about to happen. I had crossed the Jaguar God too many times it seems and it was time for him to strike back. The screen went black and an ominous sound played. Jaguar God: *Unintelligible* Thirty seconds of silence follows, and then suddenly we’re at the main menu. Jaguar God: Return you now to your home. Jaguar God: The Amazon river hides many more secrets. Jaguar God: I hope you will come back. And of course, there’s no save file, so continuing is just not an option. What really bothers me is that I don’t know what went wrong. In an effort to try and finish the game, I actually played it a couple more times, but kept running into the same problem in different areas of the game. Maybe my copy of the game is bad. Maybe it’s just a result of running an older game on a newer PC, Or maybe, just maybe, Maybe there is a Jaguar God, and I just upset him too many times and now I can’t play the game. Whatever the reason, it’s just a real shame, because I think we were really close to discovering some of the secrets of the Amazon River. I bet there was something really good. Oh well. *Blue Mist Returns* Jaguar God: We have passed through the Blue Mist to another time and place. Missionary: You know, this riverbank makes for a good restin’ place. 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