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Video Game / The Amazon Trail

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"What should we do with this? What should we do with this? What should we do with this? What should we do with this? What should we do with this?"
—The sound of fishing in the original Amazon Trail

The Amazon Trail is a most successful Spin-Off of The Oregon Trail. Other less successful spin-offs included The Yukon Trail, Africa Trail, and MayaQuest: The Mystery Trail.

Amazon Trail is the only "trail" game, besides the original Oregon Trail, to have received multiple editions. In all versions, Amazon Trail has you paddling a canoe up the Amazon River to the lost city of Vilcabamba at the behest of a talking jaguar spirit. As you make your journey, you photograph wildlife, acquire food from a Fishing Minigame, and occasionally run into a "blue mist" that causes you to travel through time and meet famous historical figures. It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.

There are three editions of the game, all released during The '90s. In the first version, released in 1994, your job is to deliver medicine to the Incas, collecting Plot Coupons requested by the jaguar along the way. In Amazon Trail II, released in 1996, your basic concept is to collect tokens on a medallion by doing tasks for the jaguar. Your eventual goal is to "prove yourself worthy" to the Ancient Ones, who want you to deliver a message to the world. Amazon Trail 3rd Edition, released in 1998, is essentially the same as Amazon Trail II, just with some improved graphics and fixed bugs. There was also a Freemium version of Amazon Trail 3rd Edition, with fewer options and other simplifications, released in cereal boxes in the year 2000.

Tropes found The Amazon Trail:

  • Adaptational Modesty: Convenient how none of the Amazon natives exhibit National Geographic Nudity, isn't it? In particular, it strains credulity that all the native women you meet just happen to be wearing dress-like garments that conceal their breasts.
  • An Aesop: While the first game generally stuck to the Green Aesop, the sequels gave a moral or a lesson to every stop, rewarding you with a token for completing each one.
  • Anachronism Stew: A few cases in the first game, where at some stops you can meet people from two different eras. Most notably, at the Napo river you can meet both Pedro de Teixeira on his 1638 expedition, and Francisco de Orellana from 1542. The sequels mitigated this to an extent, although see Misplaced Vegetation for one detail they missed.
  • Artistic License Biology:
    • The common squirrel monkey in the sequels looks nothing like the real animal and instead resembles a macaque, which, to make matters worse, is an Old World monkey. Even the original game has the illustration of the black spider monkey appearing as an actual squirrel monkey
    • The sequels also identify an emperor tamarin as a saddlebacked tamarin, which lack the distinctive long mustaches the former species possess.
    • The sequels also feature white tent bats that have pink skin and are described by the field guide as eating insects. Real white tent bats have yellow skin and are frugivores, plus they are not native to the Amazon.
  • Artistic License History: You meet him there in the game, but Henry Ford never actually paid a visit to his own Fordlandia project. From the perspective of The Law of Conservation of Detail, it makes obvious sense to have Ford personally rather than some anonymous subordinate, but it's nevertheless historically inaccurate.
  • Bloodsucking Bats: Vampire bats are among the animals to take photos of. In the sequels, they are found licking up blood from unsuspecting opossums.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: One of the later stops in second and third edition is in a city in which you are meeting the representative of an Oil company, as well as a representative of the local tribes. The game actually does not want you to pick a side, since your point is to merely listen to the sides they present:
    • The tribe representative is there to voice concerns about the damage that is done about oil drilling in the Amazon. He has every right to be concerned - at the time there were little to no safety regulations. Even though it's not done on their land, they still have to live with the aftereffects of any environmental damage. In fact, his goal is entirely reasonable - his faction wants to negotiate with the company to reduce the damage, showing that they are at least open to allowing it.
    • The oil representative mentions that while he doesn't have to meet with the Huaorani (Due to having the mineral rights), they want to be good neighbours. They are more than willing to negotiate for better safety standards, and they are bringing jobs and money into the area.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • In some versions, if you don't help the locals in their quest, the Jaguar will scold you, you won't earn your badge, and you'll be started over on that leg of the journey.
    • Once you start talking to Lope de Aguirre, he takes you "prisoner" and refuses to let you go when you attempt to leave. Once you start "trading", he takes everything you offer him and won't let you stop trading until you give him the ipecac (if you failed to get the ipecac, he'll be satisfied after taking three items). Overlaps with Interface Screw, as the button to return to the river is grayed out so you can't leave him that way either.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The staff you are given by a starving man.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Julio Arana will actually boast about what a horrible piece of shit he is. He offers to send you on a mission to round up some more "slaves, er, workers" for him. You're supposed to accept the mission in order to find the natives and then warn them to stay away from Arana.
    • Averted with Henry Ford. Although the game makes it clear that Fordlandia is failing and the native workers don't appreciate American culture being forced on them, Ford is portrayed as basically well-intentioned.
    • With the oil executive, it's deliberately left ambiguous.
  • Developer's Foresight: The medicine man in the second and third editions always gives you four plants, or medicines derived from plants, which is randomised each playthrough. One, however, will be fixed: one specifically to treat influenza or Malaria, which you need to treat Teddy Roosevelt. However, it is possible to either use it, lose it, or trade it before you reach Roosevelt. In this case, you are instead prompted to hand him a medkit (Which you can also use if you catch Influenza), which also counts towards completion.
    • Later on you are also basically required to trade food for an incan artifact. The game does not specify any kind of food - meaning you can give the starving people vegetables or fish.
    • If you failed to obtain the necessary item required to complete the level, you will actually have an alternative way to do it. Unfortunately, it will be much harder - especially if you did not get the incan artifact so you can give it to Amaru. (See above.)
  • Easter Egg: Occasionally in the third edition, you might catch a red-bellied piranha with a pirate's eyepatch and bandanna, a tiny harpoon stuck in its tailfin, and a tattoo.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: The oil executive is very stereotypically Texan. He even tells you to address him as "Tex".
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Averted somewhat surprisingly, at least in the sequels, considering it's made by the makers of The Oregon Trail. It's really hard to die in this game. With the exception of the random drowning result from capsizing your boat. Instant death.
  • Evil Colonialist: The conquistadors are generally portrayed as following this trope, with Lope de Aguirre being the most overtly evil. It seems to be averted entirely with Pedro de Teixeira, who will tell you that it's better to trade with the natives than fight them.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Lope de Aguirre, appropriately enough. ("Trade?! I do not trade! I TAKE!") The first game doesn't use the Full Motion Video of the sequels, but Aguirre still comes across as incredibly hammy.
  • First-Person Snapshooter: You photograph exotic flora and fauna in the jungle.
  • Fishing Minigame: It makes sense, since you're on a boat in a river. It's your main source of food.
  • Freemium: A free trial version of one of the sequels, with fewer options (for example, only two choices of guide instead of four), was released on CD-ROM and distributed with certain packages of breakfast cereal.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The oil executive works for the Ecuadorian Inter-Company Exporters and Importers of Oil. ("That's a real mouthful. We just call ourselves EIEIO.")
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The pirarucu looks like any other fish in the first game, but the guide tells you how huge it supposedly is. Averted in the sequels, where the pirarucu appears as gigantic as it should.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: You're encouraged to take photographs of the dozens (if not hundreds) of plants and animals in the rainforest or river.
  • Green Aesop: In the sequels, "the Ancient Ones have a message for the world." It turns out to be this.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: One stop deals with a real-life issue - an oil company versus a local. The idea behind this detour is to realize that Both Sides Have a Point and that there is no "right" or "wrong" in this case. (Granted, the arguments given are somewhat stacked in favor of the anti-oil side, but they don't explicitly come out and say which side is right and the oil executive comes off as well-meaning.)
  • Medium Blending: The sequels take place in a world with live-action humans, animated animals, and CGI backgrounds.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Bananas are an Old World fruit introduced to the Americas by the Columbian Exchange. It is possible to encounter them deep in the Amazon when you're back in the sixteenth century (assuming you remain in each time period the blue mist takes you to).
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The sequels feature white tent bats, which are endemic to Central America (hence their real name Honduran white bats). The Amazon does have tent-making bats, but they are brown.
  • Money for Nothing: If you help Arana, he will indeed pay you in gold as he promised, specifically with exactly one gold coin. This gold coin is absolutely useless to you. You cannot trade it for supplies or anything else. It just sits there in your basket as an everlasting reminder of your guilt.
  • Musical Spoiler: The rainforest music in the river segments switches to a frantic rock variant if you go down the wrong path.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Averted with the spectacled caimans, which only serve as animals to photograph and identify.
  • Nintendo Hard: Raise your hand: how many people actually managed to reach Vilcabamba in the first game? (Judging by some of the tropes on this page, not many tropers even played the first game...)
  • No Indoor Voice: Some of the locals.
  • Noble Savage: All the Amazon natives follow this trope. Colonel Rondon will explicitly tell you to expect this trope.
  • One-Hit Kill: Sometimes happens to you if your boat capsizes. Your guide will tell you that you've drowned.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Sure, it might be a tad cruel to trick that conquistador into consuming your medicine that induces uncontrolled vomiting (or better, insanity)... but come on, dude's a conquistador, and a psychopath even by conquistador standards, and he steals whatever you try to trade him besides. Furthermore, the jaguar will approve of your methods if you do that.
  • Permanently Missable Content: You can catch a pirarucu, a fish that's as long as a bus. It only swims by once, but it takes up half the screen and if you don't catch it, that's your problem.
  • Piranha Problem: You can catch a red-bellied piranha in the game, but it will often hurt you if you decide to keep it. A piranha will occasionally bite you if you get capsized in the first game.
  • Psycho Electric Eel: Don't keep an electric eel if you catch one. You will regret it. An electric eel will occasionally shock you if you get capsized in the first game.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: In the section where Lope de Aguirre appears, fittingly.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The conquistador's second-in-command, if you give his boss the emetic plant. He doesn't want to be there when he wakes up.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The whole episode with the Kreen-Akrore. Upon finding them, they simply refuse to join the national park, an outcome anyone could have predicted from what you're told about them beforehand. Even so, you can't beat the level without going out and finding them.
  • Shout-Out: Upon his introduction in 3rd Edition, Lope de Aguirre refers to himself as "The Wrath of God".
  • Sinister Stingrays: Like the electric eel, keeping a stingray when you catch one will lead to a painful consequence. A stingray will occasionally sting you if you get capsized in the first game.
  • The Slacker: One of the guides for your journey says "You can fish, I think I'll just take a nap". He might not appear in the two-guide version of the game though.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": When asked for their identity, native characters living amongst "civilized" people will typically tell you to address them by a Portuguese/Brazilian name that they've adopted, implying that this is not their real name. If you encounter them in the wild, they will typically tell you the name of their tribe and then add, "I don't have a name."
  • Talking Animal: The jaguar who helps you on your quest.
  • Threatening Shark: Bull sharks, which actually are found in the Amazon river, are among the fish introduced in the second game. They will sometimes hurt you if you catch one and decide to keep it, but still offer you several pounds of meat.
  • Time Travel: Throw in a lost Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Ford, a wily pirarucu, some hunger-crazed pirates, and a greedy oil tycoon throughout several centuries...
  • Translation Convention: Everyone speaks English, regardless of nationality and time period. The Indian woman who rescued Isabel Godin will tell you that it turned out that they can communicate with each other because they both know Quechuan, apparently not noticing that they're both speaking English to you.
  • Uncommon Time: In the first game, the theme that plays when you're going down the river is in 5/4 time.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Certain levels are unwinnable if you failed to get necessary items from earlier levels, although the game as a whole still remains winnable. For example, if you failed to get ipecac from the medicine man, the Aguirre level becomes unwinnable and you'll have to be rescued by the jaguar, which is also what occurs if you warn Aguirre not to eat the ipecac. If you fail to get the Incan artifact from Francisco de Orellana, there is no way to get Amaru to tell you the location of Vilcabamba and you'll have to continue on without his instructions. Averted with the Isabel Godin level. If you fail to get the map from Teixeira, you can still win the level by giving Isabel some of your supplies, although she won't give you her necklace in that case. Likewise, if you fail to get the appropriate herbs from the medicine man, you can still save Roosevelt by giving him a first-aid kit.
  • Updated Re-release: There are two sequels, Amazon Trail II and Amazon Trail 3rd Edition: Rainforest Adventures. According to The Other Wiki, the third game is basically the same as the second with updated graphics and fixed Game Breaking Bugs.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Several puzzles invoke this.
    • When you find Theodore Roosevelt, he is sick and injured - you can either give him a medkit or one of the herbs the medicine man gave you earlier.
    • One person will offer to trade, but says he doesn't have anything to offer apart from a gold staff. If you give him anything edible, you are praised for giving food to a starving man.
    • Later on you also have to trade with Isabel Godin, who says she doesn't have anything to offer. The correct and But Thou Must! solution is to give her a map since it will help her find her husband.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • While the correct solution to the Lope de Aguirre dilemma is give him a few disposable items (like fish) and a plant that will either cause insanity or vomiting, you are actually given the option to tell him the truth and say "It makes you throw up" or "It makes you crazy". Granted, you just know that most players picked the "It's like candy" option anyway...
      • If you tell him the truth, the jaguar scolds you. If you trick him into consuming it, the jaguar tells you, "There are evil people in this world. You did what had to be done." That's right, the game encourages you to trick the conquistador into throwing up. It doesn't in the 3rd edition, though.
    • Mildly, if you catch a shark, electric eel, or sting ray, and keep it, you will be given a voice clip of "Ooooowww" and be told "Throw it back!" by your guide.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • Sell out the tribe, and you get a nice big What the Hell, Player? speech from the Jaguar.
    • More generically, you must get an Incan artifact from some Spanish men who are dying of starvation - if you opt not to do this (For whatever reason), then Amaru will not tell you the way to Vilcabamba and you will have to find it yourself. It's much much harder if you don't know where it is. (Which is actually Truth in Television - reaching Vilcabamba is not easy.)
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: You can tell that the crazed conquistador is throwing up, but they don't show it on the screen.
  • We Care: The oil executive claims that his company is going about its business with all due concern for the environment and the natives. It's left up to your own interpretation as to whether he really means it or not, but the game does give you some indication that he is, at the very least, not quite as concerned as he really should be.
  • What the Hell, Player?: If you accept Julio Arana's task and then tell him where the Witotto Village is, you will get a scolding from the jaguar. With his rather monotonous voice, he comes off somewhat as Disappointed in You.
  • What Year Is This?: Answered by the locals.
    • Interestingly, it's phrased "what is today's date" in the Dialogue Tree, but everyone always knows to specify the year.
      • Even more bizarre is one stop where one person you talk to says it is the rainy season while another is experiencing the dry season. Usually everyone at a particular location is from the same time.
    • For most of the Amazon natives, who are presumably unfamiliar with the Gregorian calendar, "what is today's date" is not offered as an option in their Dialogue Tree. An exception is the native woman helping Isabel Godin, who replies, "today is the second day since I found this white woman." (Isabel Godin herself will tell you that it's 1769.)
    • Aguirre's response is, "The Pope would tell you that it is January, 1561. I say it is the first year in the reign of Lope de Aguirre!"
    • When you reach Vilcabamba at the end, the Inca leader mentions the Gregorian year, but also takes time to explain how the Inca calendar works.
  • White Man's Burden: Played with. Claudio Villas Boas is involved in an honestly well-intentioned effort to save the Indians and their way of life from modern encroachment, but the Kreen-Akrore aren't buying it. (Incidentally, this did not work out well for the Kreen-Akrore in Real Life.)