If you grew up in the 90’s, chances are you’ve played the Oregon Trail PC game. I remember wasting many a days in school begging to use the classroom computer to wipe out massive quantities of buffalo. Recently, the game has been uploaded to archive.org for all of us who want to relive this masterpiece of a game. I recently took some time to travel the trail. This is my story.
My last name is Carpenter, so I was a carpenter from Ohio. You get more money as a banker, and I think this all has to do with point tallies in the end, but I didn’t care about points and I didn’t want to make it too easy on the boys. We left March 1st.
But not before buying supplies. I went heavy on oxen and clothing. Matt, the general store owner, suggested I buy 1000 pounds of food. Fuck you, Matt. JTimba will provide with his exceptional hunting skills / falsetto. I decided on a strenuous pace to start.
The only hiccup in the first leg of the journey was one lost day due to blizzard. Not too bad. I arrived at the Kansas River crossing and had a decision to make. If you’ve played the game, you know these river crossings make you or break you. Do I ford the river, caulk the wagon and float it, or pay $5 and take a ferry. I immediately decide against the ferry. N’Sync does not play it safe!
Considering the depth, my only option is floating across the river. Here we go…
The next 5-7 seconds are filled with nervous anticipation. I have my entire life in that little piece of wood and canvas, including 12 oxen, 5 band members, 12 sets of clothing, 300+ pounds of food, 300 bullets, and spare wagon parts. It doesn’t seem possible, but I make it. HUGE sigh of relief. We trek on…
A few more days of unexciting travel and OH GOD ANOTHER RIVER. 5.4 feet deep. Caulk that bitch and float it. It worked once it’ll work again.
No…not…Chris…the one member I had to look up on Google…has drowned in a tragic accident. AND APPARENTLY CLUNG TO 6 SETS OF CLOTHING ON HIS WAY DOWN THE RIVER. We’re down to four. I continue through the next stop (Fort something) and then get this message:
It’s only been 20 days Lance, get it together. I assume this would slow us down considering the main symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. At this point I think JT, JC, and Joey want to get rid of Lance.
Five days later, it becomes an epidemic. I slow down the pace to help recovery. I have no idea if that’s how the game works, but it makes sense to me. A little while later I notice I’m under 100 pounds of food, so it’s time to play the only fun part of the game. I HUNT. One buffalo later, I’m up another 100 pounds of meat. Side note: it always made me angry that you couldn’t bring more than 100 pounds back to the wagon. The one buffalo was 950 pounds, but apparently making two trips is not an option.
I blow through my next few checkpoints (Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, Independence Rock, South Pass), hunting as I go. Lance gets cholera again, but I still make it to the Green River crossing on May 4th, 1848 with a somewhat healthy four singers. The river is 20.1 feet deep and I don’t want to risk another death (at this point we’re a glorified barbershop quartet). So, I decide to take a ferry. We make it safely across and continue.
A few miles outside of Soda Springs, Lance gets dysentery. At this point, I’m ready for Lance to die. I know the guys might miss him for his clothing advice or the way he prepares bear or buffalo confit, but he is a health risk to the rest of the group.
If you’re still reading, I get to the Snake River crossing after losing the trail and finding some wild fruit (not to be confused with Lance). Our group is in poor health now, so I decide to rest a couple days before crossing the river. Against Lance’s wishes, we give a Shoshone Indian three sets of ‘fabulous’ clothing in exchange for his help crossing the river.
I’m getting pretty bored from the repetitiveness of the game, and it costs me. I allow our group to go a few days without food. Lance gets fucking cholera again and one of the oxen gets injured. Whoops. Joey then gets cholera and Lance catches typhoid. I need to finish this game soon.
On July 5th, 1848 Lance succumbs to whatever disease he has and dies. Timberlake gives an eloquent eulogy that energizes the remaining ensemble. We press on, through the Blue Mountains and towards the Dalles. The end is in sight, I think.
At the Dalles, you have the choice to float down the river to your final destination and avoid rocks using the arrow keys, or just spend another 100 miles traveling on the trail. To break the monotony, I decide to take my chances on the river.
During the float down the river, I got boxed in by a collection of rocks and crashed the raft. It killed JC and wiped out a ton of my supplies. I managed to finish the rest of the river-run crash free. Justin Timberlake, my lone survivor of the trail, was in poor health.
Ah, how this game has mirrored real life. Justin Timberlake, the only survivor of the Oregon Trail, also happens to be the only survivor of N’Sync.