[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in The Getaway Bundle, now available at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]

One of the most vivid memories of my first year of school was the introduction of a pair of Apple IIs to the classroom, loaded with Oregon Trail and not one other game. We would make our own little families, send them across the continent and watch as they slowly died of wolves and dysentery due to the fact that a pack of five year olds were making every life threatening decision for them. Sparsevector's Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is a perfect way of revisiting those fond memories. Well, it would be if I wanted to see what those memories would feel like on drugs.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, when it comes down to it, is a loving parody of those memories. It's a shooter disguised under the Oregon Trail skin, with all the hilarity you would expect from that genre pairing. Your humble family of three is tasked with shooting their way to a new frontier, yet more often then not they'll end up being mauled by squirrels or choking on their own vomit. The RPG choices are still there, but it's less about food management and more about whether or not you should ford the river or ramp it a la Evel Knievel.

Most of the time it plays like a straight-forward shooter with all the powerups and trimmings, but your family's well being generally serves as the health bar and dead animal carcasses giving you currency and a score. Occasionally the game shifts to a twin stick model while your unlucky family member scares off a pack of bears, but generally speaking you'll be horizontally fending off the bandits and buffalo that just want to ruin your trip. It's simple, but the adorably dated graphics and frequently amusing text descriptions make the shooting segments into something special.



But Super Amazing Wagon Adventure becomes a must-play when you factor in the sheer insanity of it. Every game begins the same way and generally hits the same major beats, but stupid choices and sheer luck can drastically alter your experience on the road. In my earlier river crossing example, my sweet jump went awry as a gust of wind took the caravan into low Earth orbit. My youngest daughter, the sole survivor of an unfortunate buffalo attack, spent a night reflecting on those she lost while fighting the undead. A well intended shortcut landed my party in what could only be described as World 2-2 of Super Mario Bros. It's random silliness, but the game plays it straight with the same deadpan descriptions and general disinterest from the source material. Unlike most genre parodies, it never tries to be meta or wink at the player. Super Amazing Wagon Adventure knows that dying of dysentery is hilarious enough on its own, so it just plays the tropes straight despite the surreal randomness.

Every bit of the game shows just how much love the developers have for the source. The graphics are little more than blobs of pixels, but it's certainly era appropriate and soundtrack is simultaneously catchy and so very old fashioned. But from the fake CRT scanlines to the simulated bubble monitor screen, it's clear that Super Amazing Wagon Adventure nails the tiny details. And with a fairly different adventure every time and a pile of wagons to unlock, this is a fantastic example of a nostalgic parody done right.

[Super Amazing Wagon Adventure, Da New Guys, Shattered Horizon, and three other games are available in The Getaway Bundle at IndieGames' co-created site: Indie Royale.]