Pioneer Trail (Quicksilva) Review | Home Computing Weekly - Everygamegoing

Home Computing Weekly

Pioneer Trail
By Quicksilva
Sinclair ZX81

Published in Home Computing Weekly #12

Billed as a "Mind Game", Pioneer Trail is set in America in 1847. Your objective is to travel the 2,000 miles from Missouri to Oregon, but your funds are limited, and there are sundry hazards to hinder you.

Your control over the game is mainly in making constant decisions on whether to stop and stock up with more food, clothes, supplies and what have you. Too little and you starve/freeze/die of snakebite for lack of serum. Too much and you risk losing the lot in a buffalo stampede.

Apart from that, the game pretty much carries on without you.

For example, "You see travellers in the distance", announces the screen. "They look hostile. Do you want to fight/run/build a barricade/continue?" Don't fret too much about which lO choose - it makes no difference.

Unless you choose to fight, in which case you get into shooting match.

What you have to do in these is press, as fast as you can, the key corresponding to the letter/number of a creature moving across the screen. When it comes to telling the ZX81's S from 5, or Q from zero, it's mainly a test of how well you've adjusted the tv. I found I could do quite badly at this and still be told: "Good shooting. You scared them off".

Worse still are the little messages that flash up. "Rattlesnake!" it says. Then before you've had a chance to finish reading the message, let alone do anything else, it announces "You killed it". Who, me?

Never being good at balancing my budget at the best of times, I invariably starved to death after 900 miles or so, whichever of the 20 levels I played on.