Last night, at the toga party, I got to talking about the glory of kicking ass at Oregon Trails. You all MUST know Oregon Trails, the late 80's pseudo-educational computer game where your task is to get you and your family from Independence, Missouri to Independence, Oregon all in one piece. I've been obsessed with this game since it burst onto the green screen in 5th grade.
Our family has an ancient laptop. It might as well be on wheels it's so heavy and out-dated, but we bring it on family vacations just for the Oregon Trails. When you're stuck in some foreign country, and nothing but dubbed Roseanne is on TV, you get pretty into OT. In fact, I've maintained my rank in first place since the Japan trip of '99. I have OT down to a science, and since I know you're all about to go on the internet and find it, I'll give you my tips.
1. Choose "carpenter" as your job. Bankers get a lot of money, but poses no skills. Farmers have no money, but lots of skills. Carpenters have enough money, and can fix everything. You never know when an axel is going to break or your wagon tongue gets stolen in the night by Injuns.
2. At the general store, always buy a little bit more than they recommend. The store manager tells you to purchase two sets of clothing per person, so get 3. And buy lots of bullets. Skimp on food, because hunting is fun.
3. When hunting, it may seem wasteful to kill a buffalo, as they weigh 900lbs and you can only carry 100lbs. Fuck that. Waste the buffalo. They're not real anyway, and deer only weigh, like 70lbs. More importantly, never shoot at rabbits. They're impossible to hit, weigh 3lbs, and waste bullets.
4. Never float down the river as a shortcut. It always, always, ends in a crash. I've played this thousands of times. You will NEVER survive the river. It's bullshit. Plus, if there's one thing I've learned from my years of reading about The Donner Party, it's never to take shortcuts. It's true. There really are no shortcuts in life. And no shortcuts in the OT.
5. When you have to cross a river, which you should only have to do twice, pay the Indian the 5 bucks to help you cross the river on a ferry. It's worth not hearing that "crunch" when your floating wagon tips over and the sudden black screen with the following:
"You're wagon capsized. You've lost: Alex, Joanne, 4 sets of clothing, 83lbs. of food, 346 bullets, and 2 oxen."
6. Never let health get below "poor." If anyone dies along the trip, there go your chances of hitting the top 10. Stop and rest while you hunt.
7. If playing OT while on vacation, and your family is driving you crazy, name everyone on your wagon after your family and then delight when suddenly "Joanne has dysentery" or "Alex has a snakebite." It's remarkably therapeutic.
Seriously. If you don't know OT, do yourself a favor and check it out. It's fucking awesome. I've never been one for high tech, super modern video games. But OT on the green screen is pure computer nerd heaven.