Playing Oregon Trail at school was a right of passage for Generation X kids. You can play Oregon Trail game online now.
Oregon Trail, the nostalgic early computer game in which players go on a virtual version of the trek early settlers made (and face all the old-timey challenges they would have encountered), is back. A playable version of the game is available here.
The Original Version Of The Oregon Trail game
Anyone who was in grade school in the 1990’s will remember the classic 1990 MECC version of The Oregon Trail. The popular game was a favorite of school administrators to teach geography and history. Playing Oregon Trail at school was a right of passage for Generation X. It was often the only entertainment option in school computer labs.
Who Made Oregon Trail?
The company behind Oregon Trail was MECC or the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium. Founded in 1973, their mission was to provide computer services to Minnesota schools.
Oregon Trail game description
After the player sets off from Independence, Missouri, there are several landmarks along the trail where players can make decisions, shop for supplies or rest.
Players can purchase supplies such as oxen to pull the wagon, food to feed their party, clothing to keep their party warm, ammunition for hunting, and spare parts for the wagon.
These landmarks include: Kansas River, Big Blue River, Fort Kearney, Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, Independence Rock, South Pass, Fort Bridger, Green River, Soda Springs, Fort Hall, Snake River, Fort Boise, Grande Ronde Valley in the Blue Mountains, Fort Walla Walla, and The Dalles. When approaching Oregon’s Willamette Valley, travelers can either float a raft through the Columbia River Gorge or take the Barlow Road.
An important aspect of the game was the ability to hunt. Using guns and bullets bought over the course of play, players select the hunt option and hunt wild animals to add to their food reserves.
In the original version, players controlled the wagon leader who could aim a rifle in one of eight directions and fire single shots at animals. In later versions, players hunted with a cross-hair controlled by the mouse or touchscreen.
While the player can shoot as many wild game as they have bullets, only 100 pounds of meat can be carried back to the wagon at once in early versions of the game. In later versions, as long as there were at least two living members of the wagon party, 200 pounds could be carried back.
Also in later versions, players could hunt in different environments (hunting during winter showing snow-covered grass, for example), and the over-hunting of animals would result in “scarcity” that reduced the number of animals appearing later in the game.
Some versions also allow the player to go fishing.
Throughout the course of the game, members of the player’s party can fall ill and not rest, which causes further harm to the victim.
The party can die from various causes and diseases, such as measles, snakebite, exhaustion, typhoid, cholera, and dysentery, as well as from drowning or accidental gunshot wounds. The player’s oxen are also subject to injury and death.
At the conclusion of the journey, a player’s score is determined in two stages. In the first stage, the program awards a “raw” or unscaled number of points for each remaining family member (weighted by party health), each remaining possession (weighted by type), and remaining cash on hand (one point per dollar).
In the second stage, the program multiplies this raw score depending on the party’s initial level of resources determined by the profession of the party’s leader; for example, in the Apple II game, a banker starting with $1600 receives no bonus, the score of a carpenter starting with $800 is doubled, and the score of a farmer starting with $400 is tripled.
The player’s score is added to a high-score list.
The game was popular among North American elementary school students in the mid 1980s to early 1990s. Many students in the United States and Canada had access to the game at school. MECC followed up on the success of The Oregon Trail with similar titles such as The Yukon Trail and The Amazon Trail.
Where To Play Oregon Trail Online
There are several versions of the game that you can play online today.
- The original Oregon Trail is here.
- 1.2 Version is playable here.
- … and deluxe version of the Oregon Trail is here.