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About the Story
You are a special investigator for the Federal Geographical Bureau. You have been sent to gather information about each country in South America. Your travels will take you from one end of the continent to the other where you will be picked up by a submarine. (Introductory)
There are one or two laudable points. The game's contrived and unintentionally humourous plot may give the game a small amount of cult value, and the idea of mixing education with play value is a good one, despite the poor execution seen here.
Unfortunately the kids will be too busy trying to redraw their maps and play "guess-the-word" to have time to learn anything, much less have any fun. Gaming parents would be much better advised to try Carmen Sandiego.
-- Graeme Cree
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South America Trek is an educational travelogue through every country in South America. Your character is supposedly tasked with a fact-finding mission for the United States government, but it's just an excuse to try to teach students a little geography.
There is a story, sorta. Starting from Devil's Island, you need to make your way to the southernmost tip of the continent and signal a submarine to take you home. Make a map. En route, you'll meet a geography teacher (Miss Diddlemeyer) who'll join you and occasionally spit out "interesting" dry facts about the country you're currently visiting. And there's a short trivia quiz at the end to make sure you paid attention.
All of which is... not that exciting. Rooms can be entire countries, but with very brief descriptions and little depth. There's no pictures to look at and very few objects to examine. I don't think it's a very effective educational tool unless it nudges you to look at an atlas or Wikipedia afterwards.
There are some puzzles, mostly easy stuff, but sometimes a bit convoluted. For example, at one point you have some gold but want some fish. You can't simply buy the fish with the gold, you have to go through some extra in-between steps that implies an unlikely backstory to me. And there's quite a bit of wandering up and down the continent, just to find something to signal the sub with. You may get a weird sense of scale and start feeling sorry for any smokers in Argentina who have to visit French Guinea to borrow the matches.
Still, it was a bit different from the usual IF game, and now I know that Venezuela has oil fields, so I guess that's something.
Conrad Knopf's South America Trek is an educational game from the dark ages of interactive fiction. Originally published as shareware in a series of similar titles, the author expected you to dish out 30$ for the registered version.
I pity you if you did.
South America Trek sends the player (who is sometimes adressed directly by the impersonal "narrator" for some reason) on a whacky journey through South America to learn geography and stuff.
The first major problem of this game that meets the player's eye is the size of this game. South America is a terrifyingly huge game environment with confusing (and sometimes illogical) path structure, yet manages to be undetailed and plain boring. Drawing a map, whether you use your computer or go old-school with pen & paper, is both a must and a chore. Items must be gathered (they happen to be just lying around, of course) and exchanged in illogical trades (e.g. bauxite for a torch) in order to be able to progress to new areas, which, of course, are just as boring and unimaginative (not to mention unimaginable - by the way, don't plan on "examining" anything in this game, it's not implemented) as the previous ones.
South America Trek is a game you don't want to play. Reading random facts (and sometimes blatant lies - sloths are NOT dangerous, for one) about places and countries in South America in interactive fiction form while having to navigate through an atrocious and insanely huge maze path system, constantly going in circles from orientation loss and backtracking to trade items, is as far removed from having fun as I can possibly imagine. To top it off, there's pretentious in-game advertising for the author's other works. I hope there's a video game designer hell somewhere...
The best thing about this game: The word "fuck" was implemented. In an educational game for children. LOL
On a personal note, writing this review has been dragging on for quite some time because the game was just so unplayable, and then I found out the hard way you can die with no undo option, so just this once, I didn't finish this game 100% (but I got close enough).
Oh, and it's a DOS game. Good luck if you want to save your game, I couldn't...
1/10, absolute atrocity