Some titles are driven as much by the stories and experiences of the players, due to the sheer insanity involved or the unique trail it follows. Despite openly parodying 80s classroom educational experience The Oregon Trail, for many who did not play that title the randomly generated branching series of events will likely be the main appeal. Embracing difficulty spikes and madness to a level comparable with Dwarf Fortress, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is a title which really needs to be experienced rather than described.
Side-scrolling across a psychedelic vision American frontier, the player’s task is to endure the hostile elements and ensure that one of a trio of travellers survives to their destination. Unfortunately for them, the journey is hazardous and filled with buffalo. Also zombies, narwhals, inner demons and the odd violent dinosaur. Things aren’t made much easier when the rolling plains of the Wild West occasionally give way to deserts containing tombs of horrors, volcanos to rival Vesuvius and the stratosphere. Helped occasionally by mysterious traders, the trio arm themselves with bazookas, rayguns call in B-52 carpet bombings to deal with the hordes of foes. Overdone as the saying might be, the experience really is The Oregon Trail on crack.
It’s this insanity and the wonder of what on earth the game could possibly lob your way next that keeps you going. A good thing as in the actual levels there’s not too much to offer. Despite the addition of unlockable wagons and survival modes, the game plays like something out of the stone age. Along with a UI interface which covers an obscene amount of the screen, enemies dive out at you from the sides and aiming is a complete nightmare on foot. While gaming throwbacks every bit as much as the simplistically chunky visual style, these do provide moments of frustration and often a reminder of why they were corrected in the first place. As a result, nostalgia can quickly give way to frustration in the wrong situation.
One major point which does work in the game’s favour is its intentional throwback to the 80s is the music. The chiptune themes of each level are definitely more advanced than the ones of the time, yet retain the core style and fantastic vibrance of 8-bit themes no matter the level.
Like DLC Quest, the entirety of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is one big joke but manages to work in spite of everything. While gameplay elements might prove to be irritatingly lacking, the rest keeps you engaged long after buying it. Buy it for the humour, stay for the replayability, music and madness.