Review by Toger
"The Trail Where They Cried"
As darkness falls at the flea market, you and your friends gather
around the campfire to hear another of Lynetta's stories. Because
she is getting old and has no children, she feels that she must
tell the story of how her people, the Cherokee, were forced to
leave their enchanted lands in Georgia and move to the Indian
The United States Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830.
The Cherokee attempted to fight the removal by creating an independent
Cherokee Nation and by legally challenging the law in the Supreme
Court. In 1832, Justice John Marshall decreed that the Cherokee
Nation was sovereign and would have to agree to a treaty in order
to be removed from their land. In 1835, a small minority of the
divided and despondent Cherokee Nation agreed to the Treaty of
New Echota, thus giving President Jackson the authority he needed
to begin the removal of the Cherokee to the Indian territories,
in what is now present-day Oklahoma.
The Cherokee were given no time to gather their possessions or
the provisions necessary to make the long journey. Men, women
and children were crowded into makeshift forts, then forced to
march 900 miles with minimal supplies. Approximately one-third
of the Cherokee making the journey died as a result of the removal.
The route they traveled and the journey itself became known as
"The Trail of Tears" or, translated directly from Cherokee,
"The Trail Where They Cried."
With this story fresh in your mind, your party is magically transported
to the past to retrace the steps of those who have passed before
Shop 'Til You Drop
Cherokee Trails' in-game mechanics couldn't get any simpler.
Classic point-and-click with a difference: No pixel hunting! No
squinting of the eyes or scrunching of the nose trying to see
objects blended into the background. A left-click anywhere on
a screen in the flea market, and you're shopping. Click on a screen
where you interact with a person or animal, and you're hearing
a story or trading, plus you can save anywhere in the game. Can't
get out of the flea market to begin your adventure? There's a
walkthrough included on the game CD. The game plays from the CD
with only a small game file and your save games going to the hard
drive. It played flawlessly on my ancient, wheezing rig: PII 300
MHz, Win95b, 192 MB RAM.
The game begins in the flea market. Here you can browse the eight
or ten different shops and stalls to purchase items for your journey.
As you visit each shop, click on the proprietor to hear a short
speech. With the exception of Lynetta, most shop owners won't
say much. They're limited either to greetings or a tiny blurb
on what they have to sell. When you meet Lynetta in her shop,
she will tell you another Cherokee fable and, perhaps, give you
Clicking anywhere in the shop or on stall contents causes a pop-up
box to appear, in which you can purchase various items. Most shops
have at least two or three screens of goodies to buy: t-shirts,
candy, horse riding equipment, seeds, flowers, souvenirs, fruit,
etc. Purchasing from the flea market is simplicity itself. The
pop-up screen lists the items on the left with the prices to the
right. A drop-down box allows you to adjust the quantity of each
item, and a running total is displayed at the lower right. When
you're ready to buy, just click the "purchase" button.
You'll also see how much money you have left after each purchase.
Left your credit card at home, did you? Not to worry, you'll
receive $400 to spend. Of course, if you decide to go hog wild
and spend all your money at the flea market, a warning will appear
telling you you've spent too much and to save some money for the
trading posts. Most, if not all, of the items purchased at the
flea market are for trading with people or animals that you meet
along the trail. When you've bought all that you think you'll
need, it's time to begin the journey. As you leave the flea market,
you'll get a message that you won't be able to return once you
leave and are you really sure you want to do this. (If you don't
leave, you won't have an adventure, will you? Onward!)
Cherokee Trails is presented in the first-person view.
The game screens are static photographs with the animation doing
its thing on top. The animations within this game are all excellently
done. The lip synchronization between the visuals and the audio
is superb! I found myself watching the characters' faces and listening,
like you do when you're talking to a live person, more than reading
the texts provided. The scenery was beautiful. It made me feel
as if I was taking a walk in a beautiful wooded area. In areas
where you could fish, I wanted to stay foreverif I were
really into fishingas they were peaceful and soothing. At
some fishing holes you'll encounter deer, geese, beavers, wolves,
snakes and bugs, all going about their own lives as if you didn't
Did I mention the skeletons? You're asking, "What do skeletons
have to do with the Trail of Tears?" Well, since you're dealing
with spirits on the trail, doesn't it make sense to encounter
skeletons manning the trading posts? Each skeleton has its own
personality. Among other things, you'll find them playing chess,
strumming a guitar, showing off a huge red bow tie and putting
a flower in a vase. Half the fun of going to the trading post
is seeing what the skeleton will do!
All of the voice work was very well done. There were lots of
different voices and personalities. Who knew that bears, wolves
and birds had that kind of personality? All speech is subtitled,
except when talking to the flea market vendors. There isn't a
lot of dialogue in the game à la The
Longest Journey; when you meet up with a spirit
or animal, clicking on it initiates a short speech about things
it saw or heard as the Cherokee passed through. The animals usually
have a fable and/or wisdom to impart instead of a memory. Once
its speech is finished, you click on that character again in order
to trade with it. And you'll want to trade with most people or
animals as that's how you'll acquire the ointments, unguents and
herbs you'll need to heal the sick or injured.
There isn't a lot of music during the game. During the beginning
cutscene when Lynetta is telling her story, you'll hear Cherokee
chanting and singing, along with drum sounds. Ambient sounds in
the game include geese, deer drinking water, fish splashing and
frogs jumping from rock to rock. Music for the rest of the game
consists of a jaunty little fiddle tune that plays when you're
outside a trading post and, for the balance of the game, a short,
upbeat melody. During times of disaster, you'll hear a crash of
music for emphasis.
Are We There Yet?
You'll hear that emphatic disaster or hardship music at just
about every turn, too! There are wolf and bear attacks, snake
bites, drowning, exposure to the elements, pneumonia, frostbite,
severe cases of poison ivy/oak, cholera and hunger. The horses
can take ill. The wagon can overturn in a river crossing and dump
most of your supplies. Snow and thunderstorms will slow your progress
or stop it all together.
When one of your party has met with disaster, you'll be given
the chance to cure him. There are varying degrees of cures ranging
from just keeping the person warm all the way up to curing her
with various herbs, rubs or ointmentsif you have them. The
game will keep track of what you have and offer only those options
that apply to your situation. For instance, if you don't have
cayenne pepper to cure frostbite, then you can only choose between
two different methods of warming the afflicted person's feet.
You can check the status of your companions at any time during
Hungry? You'll need to eat on this long arduous journey, and
there are no McDonalds along the way! Feeding the hungry horde
in your wagon becomes an all-consuming task. Keeping a reserve
of fish is important. If you don't fish at every opportunity,
the horde will eat all of the stores purchased from the trading
postsand the trading posts are few and far between. Once
the trading post stores are gone, people will have to forage for
food and that will slow you down, if it doesn't stop you completely.
By checking your inventory you'll be able to see your game reserves,
remaining trading post items, traded items and flea market finds.
On top of all that, there is the all-important time element.
Yes, Virginia, the entire game is timed, albeit in a very unobtrusive
manner. Little white dots will steadily march across the top of
the screen. If they reach the end of the bar before you've reached
Oklahoma, the spell is broken and everyone comes home. Game over.
If anyone dies, it's game over as well. On the up side regarding
the possibility of dying, you can save anywhere. So if you're
not sure what option to choose when crossing the Big Muddy, save
before you make a decision.
I can tell that you want to ask about the replay value of Cherokee
Trails. This is a great game to replay! Not only will you
experience things that you hadn't in previous games, you'll also
be able to try to improve upon your previous score. (Oh yes, you're
scored in this game as well. Feeling pressured?) I've played this
game three times, once with another twisted adult and twice by
myself. The first time, we made it into Arkansas before we ran
out of time. The second time, I was so overwhelmed by disasters
that I only made it 25 days into the journey before someone died.
(I only scored 5 points for that game!) The third time, I ran
out of time at the Oklahoma/Arkansas border.
Is That Your Final Answer?
Is this an edutainment title? Yes. Will you have fun with the
The purpose of the game is to teach you about the tribulations
that the Cherokee faced on this not-so-fun cross-country walk,
and it does that marvelously. On the other hand, you will be
entertained by the presentation of the story itself, the animation,
the trading post skeletons and listening to the bizarre little
stories that the animals have to tell. You will be amazed at the
lip-synching and dance to the jaunty little tunes. Aaand you'll
tear your hair out trying to keep your friends alive long enough
to reach your final destination. The fact that I became obsessed
with keeping that horde of locusts in my wagon alive is enough
to garner a star from me! (Don't feel too badly if you want to
offload said locusts by the side of the road after they've been
bitten by wolves three times, gotten frostbite four times and
eaten all the food. I won't tell.)
Now if you'll excuse me ... I have a wagon party to lead to Oklahoma
and this time I'm gonna make it!
Release Date: October 4, 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium II or equivalent
800x600 screen resolution
Where to Find It
Games 15.00 alone or 24.95 with four other games
Prices/links current as of 11/12/02
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).