Everyone remembers Oregon Trail for the Apple 2. But what if instead of dysentery and drowned oxen, you had to deal with the constant threat of zombies?
The Men Who Wear Many Hats have brought about just that, marrying current zombie-loving trends with the classic Oregon Trail framework. The result is Organ Trail, a journey across the United States in your rickety old station wagon fraught with aggressive zombie action and the looming possibility of your party becoming infected.
Faithfully made to emulate the look and feel of playing on the Apple 2, Organ Trail is a hilarious and subtly chilling parody of the beloved childhood original. The game was released for free last year on the company’s website. Its popularity led the developers to Kickstarter, where a $3,000 request was met with an enthusiastic $16,000 response.
So why a bloodthirsty, cannibalistic spin on Oregon Trail? Designer Ryan Wiemeyer answered simply: Why not?
“Everyone knows Oregon Trail. People love it. We were sort’ve getting jaded with the whole zombie craze. Before we were a company we were just a bunch of guys who would get together and make games. But one day we were brainstorming and we just thought, ‘What if we made Oregon Trail with zombies? I love it!’ We’re tapping into two large fanbases – it’s the perfect synergy of awesome stuff.”
“We tried to be very faithful to the original Apple 2 game. When you shoot someone it makes the same bit sound as it would on an old Apple computer.”
Wiemeyer built the company’s Kickstarter campaign with other success stories in mind. “I did a lot of research beforehand. I’m friends with the folks over at Octodad and I pretty much stole elements of their Kickstarter campaign,” he said with a laugh. “I took the things that I saw were effect and amalgamated them to suit the needs of Organ Trail.”
The Men Who Wear Many Hats also decided that fans that supported the game deserved some materialistic recognition. “We created tons of rewards,” Wiemeyer added. “We have t-shirts, pins, postcards, posters… Depending how much you donate, you get some swag. We went all out with the swag.”
Wiemeyer expressed the importance of community involvement, and how the Men Who Wear Many Hats take it very seriously. At the request of fans, the Station Wagon itself was made a character. The player’s vehicle can now break down, forcing you to travel on foot to recover parts. Party members that have become infected can be killed to prevent complete transformation into an undead -- and the player must be willing to pull the trigger themselves.
“We’ve also added a boss battle mechanic,” he explained. “There are larger zombies that are harder to beat, and we’ve set them up like a ‘boss’ in any other game. Sometimes while you’re scavenging for food you’ll get attacked. We wanted to make the time you spend on the game worthwhile.”
“We were so successful because we already had a playable version of the game when we started (our Kickstarter campaign),” Wiemeyer said. “We said, ‘Hey, we’re going to make this game bigger,’ and people believed in us because we had already proved we could make it. The community told us what they wanted, and we listened very closely.”
Organ Trail is scheduled for release on iOS and Android devices at the end of May, with full PC and Mac versions to follow soon after.