The Oregon Trail, the classic educational game first published in 1974, is now available as a handheld. You’ll only find it at Target retail locations right now, and it’s not yet available online. The best news is that it only costs a measly $24.99.
This little gem is as full-featured as it gets. Onboard is the complete game, in full color and including the original sound effects. You can choose your starting career, name your party of five travellers, load up the wagon and, yes, even hunt for food.
The device is manufactured by Basic Fun, a subsidiary of The Bridge Direct. Founded in 2009, the company is already producing licensed products for Hasbro and Disney, including some Star Wars-themed items. They even now own the K’Nex Brand.
Basic Fun is also the same company that’s producing handheld versions of Pac-Man, Q*bert, Asteroids and Frogger. Some of those come in full-color (like the ones made by Tiny Arcade) and some do not. But The Oregon Trail might be highest quality of them all.
The most exciting part of this handheld for me, however, isn’t the game itself. I can play The Oregon Trail online or with a laptop pretty easily. No, it’s the way that the game is presented. The little handheld is clearly modeled after the Apple II, big chunky gray buttons and all. To turn it on and off you even have to push the floppy disk into the slot. It’s the same computer on which I first encountered the classic game in grade school.
For twenty-five bucks, it’s a small price to pay for some nice nostalgia. I can’t wait to show it to my seven year-old when she gets home from school.
Target has made a big push over the last few years to get these kinds of exclusive toys and games on its shelves. Representatives from Czech Games Limited told us at Gen Con a few years back that their own Target exclusive title, Codenames: Deep Undercover, was originally Target’s idea. This isn’t Target’s only exclusive The Oregon Trail game either. Two years ago they unveiled The Oregon Trail Card Game.
Walmart is also getting into the exclusive toys and games act. Fog of Love, the romantic comedy board game that was recently featured on Polygon’s Overboard, was plucked off of Kickstarter and put straight into the big-box retailers’ stores around the country. We’re told that it’s selling very well.