Does the game hold up? Who cares? I just wanted to see if I could win it once, as I had no such luck as a member of Eastchester Middle School's after-school computer club. I was not only a nerd, but also one who couldn't do nerd things well. What a catch!
And thanks to a TODAY.com assignment to verify if the free "Oregon Trail" download is the real deal — it is, and my computer shows no signs of dysentery — I also got the chance to see if I finally have what it takes to make it to Oregon.
It begins! Sure, I could "learn about the trail," but that would be educational. In retrospect, "Turn sound off" would have been a great idea before sojourning west, as my ears would bleed from the cacophony of chirps at each checkpoint. Spotify didn't exist in the early '90s, kids.
To raise the stakes (and the point values), I've decided to play as a farmer from Illinois. To shatter my nerves, I've named the members of my traveling party Matt, Savannah, Al and Natalie — you know, completely random names for characters whose safety in a video game has no bearing on my current and future employment.
With my $400, I bought four pairs of oxen, eight sets of clothes (I requested Armani, only to be met with blank stares), 20 boxes of bullets for hunting, a bunch of spare parts and 150 pounds of food, leaving me with $30 to spare. "You'll need flour, sugar, bacon and coffee," the general-store owner says. That's pretty much true of my life, no matter what I'm doing. Mmm... bacon.
Say goodbye to Independence, Missouri, everyone! Also, somebody please snag Davy Crockett some clothes. He's scaring the locals.
Are we there yet?
It's 102 miles to the Kansas River crossing and we have a full wagon with oxen and a bunch of spare parts. It's dark, and we're not wearing sunglasses (because they haven't been invented yet). Hit it.
Three days in, and there's already hardship. Worst trail ever.
Ah, yes, the image that continues to haunt any gamer between the ages of 25 and 45. Will it (literally) all fall apart?
Phew! Brush that dirt off your shoulder. No, really, there's some mud there or something. I only bought eight pairs of clothes for the five of us, so, show some pride.
Since food supplies are running low, it's time to go out and hunt. The good news is I'm good at video-game hunting, especially the coveted buffalo, which provides 100 pounds of meat. The bad news is I look like a skeleton who's horrified by his actions.
Ah, yes, it's not a game of "Oregon Trail" without everyone's favorite old-school maladies. You'll have to forgive Savannah if she's a little sluggish at the n̶e̶w̶s̶ ̶d̶e̶s̶k̶ campfire today, as she has a touch of typhoid.
If you're going to risk your life uprooting your family for a better life in Oregon, you might as well have a pool party with your oxen in Soda Springs.
Can you blame Al for being exhausted? #Rokerthon will do that to a guy.
Man, I can't seem to keep any of these totally random traveling party members healthy. At least Matt's OK. In a related story, I can't stop tugging at my collar.
Noooooo! You were loved, ox. Now, please allow me to see if said ox can count toward food. (It cannot, for some reason.)
Perhaps I should start looking into other employment opportunities.
OK, the big finish: All I have to do is navigate the Columbia River safely, and I may get to keep my job.
Sorry, video-game Matt. Sorry, real-life accountant.
On a happier note: I finally made it to video-game Oregon! Since I'm close to Portland, I'll put a bird on it.
I even got a high score! Now, everyone will know that I'm an "adventurer," albeit an adventurer who may be forced to go on a quest for other jobs.
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