Oregon Trail

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Who said God doesn't have a sense of humor?
This is the article about the video game The Oregon Trail. The actual game is available by clicking Here

The Oregon Trail is considered to be the greatest video game of the 1980s. Period.

This cool game was bundled with Apple and other brand school computers. Gameplay was encouraged by teachers to trick kids into learning something. Like, anything. Schools even had "Oregon Trail Days" in their computer labs for just that reason. After all, handling teams of oxen and fixing wagons are important skills today if you're going to turn Amish. While sheep-like kids actually played the game, the hoods[1] preferred to fling Apple computers off the school roof trying to hit people and cars. Replacing those computers made Apple the rich and snotty company it is today.


Who said history isn't fun?...hehe...

You're taking your family out west from Independence, Missouri.[2] You are the big-shot wagon leader here, making all the decisions, maybe the last time in your life you'll ever get to do that. So don't screw up, okay?

First, you have some starting cash depending on your profession.[3] You step into a general store and are able to buy all kinds of stuff. Even oxen, right off the shelf. Over there, next to the leeches. Save a little cash for stuff like tips and valet parking. You now have to figure out when to leave. Think about it. You're in Missouri heat and humidity with clouds of skeeters in the summer. Helloo! Hit the road NOW.

Now you're all like, "This is gonna totally rock! I'm gonna kidnap and ravish me an Indian[4] princess and make her my bride!" You’re probably hoping at this point to trade your whiny NPC wife and kids as soon as possible anyway.

Only it doesn't work out that way. Your ox dies while fording the river.[5] Bad call, dumbass. You should have paid the ferry toll to cross it safely. Well done, genius. What Indian princess would want a crazed whitey without an ox? Then your hunting party gets ravaged by Injuns, or even worse, angry Cleveland Indians coming off a losing road trip.[6] And then some whiny jerk dies of the cholera. What the hell is cholera?! I think it involves diarrhea. Eww. I guess you could click on that blue word and find out, but you won't.[7] You WILL finish reading this article first. Then I don't care what the hell you do.[8]

So, what do you do next, huh?

Well, if you were lucky enough to play the open source code version for Apple, you just hacked that sucker and added dirty words and unlikely outcomes!! Wow. Good stuff. Good times. But let's keep it real. Flash forward to 10 years from now. Playing The Oregon Trail at your desk in Kiev while you hack US military sites will get you in trouble with your evil Russian masters. What!? You're in North Korea because they paid off your student loans? You are so dead right now.

You could also go hunting, the most entertaining part of the game.[9] Don't know why you’re wasting bullets on fast rabbits when the buffalo are just standing there. After all, you need to type "BANG" really fast and all correct-like to hit anything. Okay, you shoot and shoot 19374850 lbs. of meat,[10] but your pioneer is fat and can only carry back 200 lbs.[11] And he eats about 50 lbs. of it before he gets back. It's way too early in the game to think about going cannibal on the family,[12] so keep rolling.

Rivers and big rocks that you'll never visit in real life mark your progress. Not that you could recognize them today anyway, since they're like a) not a glowy green color, b) not 8-bit images and c) tagged all over. Oh, and there's forts, too, who are happy to sell you stuff at huge markups, like 7-11s today. They had no Slurpees then, not that you got enough money for one, dumbo. Just pretend like everyone drinks from the horse trough in front of the fort.

Well okay, from now on you just keep grinding. The fun stuff is making up epitaphs for the group members that kick the bucket. No zombies out there so you won't have to waste any bullets blowing their little heads off. A little disappointing for sure, but that's the game. Still, nobody said you couldn't take a shot or two at the tombstones along the way. They’re people you don't know anyway. Save a couple of bullets for zombies in case you happen to get lost and end up in Portland.

The Oregon Trail teaches you navigation skills like recognizing landmarks. So you know we passed this dune twice already. No, not that one, the other one.

So you got lucky, you've made it to the Oregon border, even though it's with a half-dead and still-whiney half a family. Now you got one last decision: take another long wagon trip (and kill off the remaining family members) or make your wagon into a raft to cruise down the Columbia River like a champ (and drown the remaining family members). Most people choose the second because they take your picture at the end and you don't have to buy it if you don't want to. Either way, if you don't get killed yourself, you go on to your final destination to join one of the famous Oregon cults.


SPOILER ALERT! The only way to win the game, and coincidentally the most awesome way, is to follow these steps:

  • Be a BANKER. It is the ONLY occupation that has the money to get to Oregon. Money means everything, get over it. Once you get there, just rob the next couple of wagons that come along. Just be like normal bankers.
  • Don't waste your money on shit like banjos. Is a banjo going to help you shoot oxen or ward off dysentery? I didn't think so.[13]
  • Set your pace to "grueling" and never stop for rests.[14] If you hit winter, everyone WILL die.
  • Set your rations to "bare bones". Combined with the grueling pace, none of your travelers will get tired or sick.[15]
  • Tote up your score and hey! 19 points out of 50,000 possible just like that! Best not to set the bar too high, so you can easily beat your high score next time you play.


Game guru Derek Smart gets in the final word, actually buried in the virtual world of Count Zero. He didn't know it was and will only ever be 8-bit.

During the making of The Oregon Trail, it became apparent that lead developer Derek Smart was unhappy with the bugs in it. He wanted the game's 1985 release date moved to 1989, but died of dysentery before he could do so. He weighed 300 pounds, but his family could only carry 100 pounds of him back to the cemetery. The software publisher decided against fixing the bugs, saying that by that time Oregon Trail wouldn't be able to compete with games using DirectX.

The game was widely panned for its sexual representation of Injuns, oxen, women, and wagon tongues. Still, the game was applauded for its forward-thinking treatment of its subplot, which later formed the basis for the movie Brokeback Mountain.

Jack Thompson recently sued the creators of The Oregon Trail for copyright infringement. He claims to hold the rights to "BANG" and "POW" as well as all other 3- and 4-letter words. He also said that the game taught young children who play it that cowboys are safe.[16] His critics reply that only 218 serial killers were made by playing the game, with most of those being oxen. That number does not include all the kids who were beaten in points by their parents. Parents whose last words were "Now, this is how you play "Oregon Trail". . . " (See "Menendez Brothers").

There is a cool Easter egg at the end of the game that allows you to play a quick game of Custer's Revenge, an Atari game that manages to be both offensive to Native Americans and women in general.[17]

The Oregon State Historical Society has also taken up a lawsuit against the makers of The Oregon Trail, saying that its portrayal of people is misleading. They claim that the two-dimensional pixel figures shown in the game do not at all resemble the actual, three-dimensional settlers of the area.[18] When asked for a comment, Derek Smart proclaimed: "Oh no, my gums are bleeding! I think I have scurvy!"[19]

In 2010, Nestle released Oregon Trail Mix in time for the game's 25th anniversary. This renewed interest in the game big time. It also caused outbreaks of dysentery and cholera throughout the US.[20] A recall was quickly done. Phew! All the unused packages were collected and shipped off for sale to third-world countries, just because.

Newer versions

There have been several updates of the game which has remained alive and kicking like an unkillable cockroach. Later versions not only let you shoot things, but also LETS YOU FISH!! Is that awesome or what? I didn't think so either. There are also knockoffs of the game like Pioneer Trail, Oregon Adventure and Gratuitous Anime Panty Shot.

The 2011 version, Oregon Trail 5: Get the Fuck out of Oregon, boasts advanced AI, non-linear storylines, sidequests, honor system, battlegrounds, flying mounts, giant enemy crabs, realistic physics, exotic locations[21], and faster rabbits. Teachers recommend that parents buy their kids the Splodey and Plague add-on packs, which add real shrapnel and actual deadly diseases into the game. Anything for teachers to get a day off from school, it looks like.

For Millennial Version 26.0, the latest version with 3-D graphics was changed back to 8-bit for a neato retro look. They spent millions to re-install the bugs found in the original version. How cool was that? Selfies could be made into charcoal drawings which could then be posted on the many crosses and tombstones already on the trail. Extra special excitement has been added where a player's phone will be bricked if their character dies during gameplay.[22]Don't worry, a small Bitcoin payment and your nude photo sent to AppleRussVolgograd will fix everything.

Real-life re-enactment

You might remember the 2007 contest where two teams played the game live in reality-show style, with a grand prize of $1.5 million. I remember missing it 'cause there was something good on TV at the same time.

Team A, or the Designer Orange Team, was made up of folks with money from places like Hilton Head (South Carolina), Bel-Air (California) and Hillsborough (California). So, like, from places, right? Those guys chose to be ultra modern and brought along maids, gardeners, personal trainers, security guards and drivers. They bought themselves the most current and coolest GPS rigs and had them installed in their plush luxury cars. Can you imagine the look on people's faces when a fleet of these cruised past? I bet a lot of cows were impressed, too.

Team B, or the Modest Brown Team, was composed of Mormons, if you can believe that. Believe it that they decided to travel the traditional way, driving covered wagons pulled by oxen,[23] wearing ugly, heavy clothing and shooting their food as they traveled. Was that cool or what? Taught earlier by the A-List kids in school, well-behaved Mormon kids learned to whine about everything during the trip, just like in the game. For even more reality, the group even attempted to make themselves 8-bit characters. That failed big time and even killed a couple of kids. Luckily, Mormon families always have spares, so no biggie. As a final touch, the Modest Brown Team depended on divine protection on their trip. This was given by an unnamed angel flying a cool A-10 Warthog sent by that Utah National Guard bunch. So, those guys were REALLY able to take care of any Injuns in their path by just blowing them to pieces. [24] With real cool missiles, too. Michael Bay, eat your heart out! I just hope they didn't hit any Indian princesses, though; I never heard one way or the other.

While stopped at a light, all of Team A's rides were jacked, and all were like stripped and tagged and stuff. Cops were right on the case, writing fixit tickets like nobody's business.

The Designer Orange group had a monster advantage in speed and was way ahead by midpoint. This was even after a big delay starting out from Independence, Missouri[25] caused by members of the group suing each other for some dang reason or another.[26] It was at that halfway point that they ran into, like, big-time problems. Remember how in the game the pioneers were effed up by dysentery, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and the heartbreak of psoriasis? Well, the same thing happened to the Designer Orange Team. Who knew? Only afterwards did they find that eating meals at Chipotle restaurants along the way was a crap idea. Like, literally.

That team lost all their drivers and most of the maids. This was not too long after they found that the cool high-end Garman GPSs that they got off Amazon (free shipping, yo) turned out to be knockoffs that didn't work so good. They got all the way to the Canadian border but didn't realize it until they started getting ticketed by those Mountie guys and getting jumped by Polar Bears. I suppose they should have made a left at Albuquerque (heh) but that's in Mexico, I think. Which is sort of to the left of Arabia, amiright? Thought so.

Meanwhile, the Modest Brown Team made slow progress. Truly amazeballs that they actually KNEW what direction west was. That and they followed the scorch marks left by A-10 missile strikes. Those were signs from God! But those guys were slowed down by instructions from the Mormon elders to convert the towns along the way to their devil-worshipping ways. Somehow, the orders got screwed up and the Brown Team was told to convert the prairie dog towns along the route. So, prairie dogs invented a special Mormon missionary warning. They spread out their little arms and make A-10 engine noises. Is that cool or what? They say early rising prairie dogs warn of Jehovah's Witnesses and late risers guard against Mormon missionaries. The missionaries did manage to convert bunches of jackrabbits instead. (See "Jack Mormon")

Then, both teams ended up at The Dalles at the exactly same time. How cool is that? My neighbor who actually watched the show said it got really intense, with both groups standing around ready to go after each other. And then, the screen went black and everything ended. Now, my neighbor is a big stoner so I thought he mixed up The Oregon Trail with The Sopranos or something but other people swear the endings were the same for both. So like, another show with a crap ending. Just like this article. Is that cool or what?


  1. kids mystified by the letters and numbers on a keyboard
  2. You never learn where this is unless you happen to already live there.
  3. Pimp is not a choice in the earlier game versions.
  4. Not from India, something the game was supposed to teach you.
  5. How’d you forget to teach the ox to hold its breath?
  6. So you did buy some provisions when you left … say, what?
  7. Nor will you check out this footnote, either, you lazy bum.
  8. While you're up, though, get me a Coke from the fridge. Not the purple stuff or Sunny D, either.
  9. Wait, you forgot to buy BULLETS? Cheez.
  10. only after learning how to properly spell "POW" and "BANG" for when you get drafted into the army. See? – educational stuff.
  11. Just like real history! Is that cool or what?
  12. Just like real history! Is that cool or what?
  13. So get a really cool harmonica instead, maybe two.
  14. If you ask your teacher what "grueling" means, you are a dweeb. Fake knowing it like everybody else.
  15. Remember to stop for their funerals, though.
  16. So do cowboy clowns cancel out the evil stuff or what? Just wondering.
  17. not to be confused with Montezuma's Revenge, an Oregon Trail feature.
  18. They do resemble the more numerous two-dimensional residents of today
  19. It turned out to be radiation poisoning from unshielded computer monitors, so ha ha. Not good to be your own doctor, is it, Mister Smart?
  20. Just like in history! Who’da thunk?
  21. Medford
  22. So always play on your sister's phone.
  23. also impressing cows along the way
  24. Just like in real history. Wow!
  25. Just like the real game! Cool.
  26. Hope it wasn’t over some Indian princess