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'You have died of dysentery' — new handheld brings back 'The Oregon Trail'

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Monday, March 5, 2018, 9:45 a.m.
Target is sure to be hitting lots of nostalgia nerves with their exclusive handheld version of the classic computer game, 'The Oregon Trail.'
Target is sure to be hitting lots of nostalgia nerves with their exclusive handheld version of the classic computer game, 'The Oregon Trail.'

Anyone who had an Apple II in their school computer lab will probably remember playing "The Oregon Trail."

They'll probably also remember frustratingly dying of dysentery.

But now, what once required a desktop computer, big floppy disk drives and a bulky CRT monitor has been reduced to a handheld.

Target is selling an exclusive Oregon Trail handheld for $25, website reported .

Created in 1971, The Oregon Trail computer game was designed to teach school children about the realties of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Mo. to Oregon's Willamette Valley in 1848.

It was extremely successful, selling more than 65 million copies, and is included in the book "1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die." It was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2016; that same year, it ranked 9th on Time's list of the 50 best video games of all-time .

"The Oregon Trail is still a cultural landmark for any school kid who came of age in the 1980s or after," Smithsonian Magazine said . "Even now, there remains a constant pressure to revive the series, so that nostalgic Gen Xers and Millennials can amble westward with a dysentery-riddled party once again."

The new handheld appears to be a way to do just that.

While the game can be played on smartphones, "it's just not the same experience on a sleek, sexy smartphone that it is on a chunky, retro-styled handheld with fat, satisfyingly clicky buttons," said.

"Whoever made this thing for Target really tried to turn the nostalgia up to 11. To get the fun started, you have to 'push' the floppy disk into the 'drive'… how awesome is that?"

Those interested in embarking on the journey can check to see if it's in stock at their local Target by using this site .

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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