Misfortune favours the brave in sparsevector’s indie curio, which imagines The Oregon Trail as produced by Eugene Jarvis on an Atari 2600. The action flits restlessly between side-scrolling dodge- and-shoot sequences and rudimentary twin-stick interludes with the occasional choice of route to take in between. Regardless of which option is picked, A Spelunky-esque dash of randomisation ensures no two journeys will ever be the same.
At an early juncture you’ll reach a river: do you risk leaping it, or opt to ford it instead? The former option might see you land on the other side, though you’re as likely to catch a gust of wind that carries you out of the stratosphere and into an asteroid field. Stop to pick blueberries and you may be assaulted by angry bears whose dying cries alert some ferocious squirrels, or you’ll happen across a cave populated by giant spiders. Each of your trio of pioneers has three lives which can be replenished by collecting rare health packs, though such are the variety and number of hazards that chances are they will all meet a brutal end, relayed with the same darkly comic bluntness as its inspiration. The finish line may only be ten minutes away from the start screen, but it will take much longer than that to reach it.
The game’s random nature is bracing, though its unpredictability can frustrate, particularly when enemies swarm in voluminous number around your rather sluggish vehicle. Still, it’s hard to resent these infrequent annoyances given how quickly you can hop back on board and begin a new journey, one that will almost certainly provide fresh challenges to overcome. Super Amazing Wagon Adventure may be little more than a fleeting novelty, but 80MSP is a small price to pay for a game that surprises and amuses in equal measure.