Who among us can't remember crowding around the class Macintosh to watch one lucky kid at a time try to make the journey west to the pixelated promised land in Oregon Trail. Well, probably quite a few of us - those of you who are significantly older or younger than I am, for a start. But I digress. Oregon Trail is back, this time from mobile mega-developer Gameloft, in an updated version for your Android phone or tablet. And it's free.
For the two of you out there in Internet Land who never played one of Oregon Trail's many iterations, it goes something like this: you start of as a family of frontier hopefuls, buying a wagon, oxen and supplies in Missouri, trying to survive the perilous journey to Oregon. You could name your character and family members (most of my classmates opted for names with just four letters), make course decisions at key crossroads, repair and resupply your wagon along the way, and of course, hunt wildlife for food. In an oddly macabre edition to a kids' game, your family members - and eventually the player character - can die in grisly, horrible and ultimately realistic ways. Always a crowds pleaser.
Gameloft's version, entitled Oregon Trail: Settler, brings the same core survivalist gameplay with some pleasing modern tweaks. Once you reach the end of your journey you're introduced to a Sim City-style isometric town, where you must farm, market and defend your property. The game is free in the Android Market (that's zero buckskins for you pioneer types) and available now for all recent versions of Android. Remember: always buy lots of bullets.