Oregon Trail: Settler Review

Oregon Trail: Settler Review

Apr 10, 2012

People born in the 70’s and 80’s played a game where they died of dysentery: Oregon Trail. Now, the game is back with Oregon Trail: Settler, a much more updated game and theme.

The premise of the game is to make and grow a happy settlement. The game itself, is pretty easy to play. Most things are clickable and/or can be dragged into position. While the controls are easy, the game can be challenging. Each time an action is performed such as picking crops, hunting, or collecting taxes, it uses energy. Energy and and settler cash are the 2 most difficult parts of the game to manage.

Managing energy in the game is a constant challenge because there are tasks and the cheapest way to recoup energy is to take a break from the game. Closing down the game and leaving it unplayed for an hour or 2 will let the energy meter return to full. Depending on how many levels are unlocked, the energy meter may take more time to replenish. Energy can also be purchased with settler cash.

The cash is the most difficult of the 2 to refill, but there are a couple ways settler cash can be earned. The first is to use real world cash. Using Google Wallet, aka the credit card attached to a Google Play Store account, real money can be used to purchase game money. The smallest denomination is $1.99 USD for $10 in settler cash and works its way up to $99.99 real money for $500 + 200 bonus cash in the game.

The other option to get settler cash is called Free Cash. This route requires a game download and actions such as playing levels, filling out forms to request quotes for insurance, signing up for a dating service, and more. This is the more cost effective way, but also is more of a hassle.

Some parts of Oregon Trail: Settler are meant to be social. Visiting a friend’s town to help with collecting taxes or picking crops or inviting friends to join via Facebook can help with parts of the game. When low on energy, there is an option to ask a friend for energy.

Overall the game is pretty addictive. After shutting down the game to rest for a while, a message will appear when crops are ready or the energy meter is fully restored. While this is a good reminder for those who want to play the game again as soon as possible, others who may be building a settlement at a more leisurely pace may want to turn these notifications off. Oregon Trail: Settler is a game akin to Farmville and others that can be clingy and begging for your attention if you let it.

PowerVocab Review

PowerVocab Review

Jul 12, 2011

Everyone wants to get smarter, but the best way to make people think you’re brainy is by using long words. It helps if those long words aren’t made up as well, and if you actually know what they mean. We can all slip antidisestablishmentarianism into the conversation, but it’s another thing entirely to do so correctly.

That’s where PowerVocab comes in. Not so much for the antidisestablishmentarianism conundrum, but for other, much more useful words. It’s a game that tests the breadth, width and depth of your vocabulary, throwing words and explanations at you, then giving you points for correct answers.

It’s a neat little system, and one that works quite well, especially because at the end of each round, you’re given the option to review your answers. Get any wrong and you can go back and find out what the word actually means, which in turn means you’ve learnt a new word. Congratulations, you’re a bit smarter than you were before.

The number of words you can learn appears to be pretty large, although in the early rounds repetition is pretty frequent. The app’s not that great looking either, with clunky menus and a distinctly mid-nineties design style. Those are minor flaws though, in what is a fun and helpful little application.

Learning is fun, that’s the message behind PowerVocab, and it’s a message that I wholeheartedly support. Any game or app that sets out to expand a person’s knowledge and horizons should be championed, doubly so when they do it as well as PowerVocab.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for those who want to brush up their speaking and writing skills, it’s a really great download. It won’t make you a genius, but with a bit of practice, it might make people believe you’re a genius.