Review by Psycho Penguin
"Well, Oregon Trail is still good."
We all grew up playing Oregon Trail on our little computers at school. It was a terrific game about a group of people that you lead from one end of the trail to another. So, of course, the game was so good, that the company had to make a bunch of ripoffs. Amazon Trail was one of these ripoffs, and I think it's safe to say I just didn't enjoy this game as much as Oregon Trail. This game is merely decent and is not even that good as a stand-alone game, due to bad graphics and a gameplay system that's too complex.
The story continues to boggle me. There is no such thing as an ''Amazon Trail'', you know. I think the game developers got lazy and decided to release a game based on the Amazon River, but also decided to put it in the Oregon Trail series, and then got completely confused as to what to name it. Amazon Trail was a pretty stupid name, and the story is pretty dull. You just take pictures of scenery, catch fish, and trade with the local Indians. It doesn't even have much of a storyline beyond that. I think you had to get to the end of the Amazon River, but there's so much to do along the way.
However, complex does not mean fun in this case. Fishing is a pretty interesting complex at first, but it is poorly implemented into the game. First off, you get a scrapbook with the amount of fish you catch and the types. You buy bait and rods in the local general stores, and then you go fishing and catch fish. It's sort of like Breath of Fire's fishing mini-game, only not as fun. You can't really tell exactly where the fish are at any time, and catching fish seems to be more by luck then any sort of skill. Also, the variety of fish that you catch in the same area is incredibly lunatic, and the types of fish are usually not found in the Amazon River.
I did like how you can take a tour of the forests and try to take pictures of a variety of different animals. This was one of the better parts of the game in my eyes. Snooping around the various parts of the jungle and trying to find unique species to add to the scrapbook was definitely more fun then the fishing, which was decidedly mediocre. The animals are actually visible, and it takes good detective work to see some of them. Some camouflage quite well with the scenery, and some are high in trees, while others stay low to the ground. Finding every type of animal in the game is a definite challenge for sure.
The problems I had come with the fact you never get the feeling that you are on a journey. I loved the unique style of Oregon Trail, as you had to determine many things and had to use your brain a lot. Amazon Trail seems more focused on just learning about animals, which is fine, but the game sacrifices fun with complexity too much. Sure, fishing could have been a fun mini game, like hunting was in Oregon Trail. But it's too much a focal point of the game. I never felt challenged by Amazon Trail, or felt like I was on a fun and unique journey, and that was a definite disappointment to me.
Plus, the graphics are pretty ugly. You only get to see the screen in a box, because half of the screen is taken up by random crap you care nothing about. The forests look drab and dreary, with the same colors. The whole game basically looks the same, and the developers went for a 3D look, which was a definite mistake. I do like the detail paid to the animals and jungles, as each animal definitely looks like they would in real life, and the jungles have a unique flavor to them, but I was still disappointed with the graphics and overall look of the game.
Sadly, I don't remember too much of the music in the game. I remember it had a catchy upbeat tone at the beginning, but I don't recall it having any music during gameplay. The sound effects were decent, and sounded right on cue. There's nothing really much to say here, so I'll just move on.
You won't find much reason to play Amazon Trail for an extended period of time. It's a nice way to learn about the culture and wildlife of the Amazon River... only the fish and animals found in the game are not found usually in the Amazon area. Plus, taking pictures and catching fish only go so far. What happened to an epic journey that involves getting diseases and having to decide when to rest? You will much rather do that then catch 40 types of fish, I assure you.
Plus, the game isn't even that challenging. There's no real rhyme or reason to do anything, and finding most of the animals and fish provides little challenge. Finding reasons to actually play the game is more challenging then actually playing the game. As cliched as that may sound, it's the god honest truth about this game. You'll never really have to worry about dying. Catching fish is a breeze once you get a hang of it, and finding all the animals is relatively simple and harmless provided you take the time to do it. There, there's absolutely nothing challenging about it.
Amazon Trail is a weak entry into the Trail series. The graphics are terrible, the game just isn't fun, and you won't even learn much. I already know what a snake looks like, thanks. It just represents yet another game that tries too hard to be something it isn't. This game would have been much better if it was Oregon Trail in the Amazon River. Instead, the developers tried to make a totally new game, and they failed for the most part.
Just play Oregon Trail Classic instead, please.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/22/03, Updated 06/22/03
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