Life in 1848 was pretty brutal. Fording a river unsuccessfully is a great way to kill everything you love. If your wife was obnoxious, you didn’t have to fret for too long: she had what seemed to be a 74% chance of perishing from dysentery. In fact, eating seemed to be almost as dangerous as not eating back in the day; between cholera and starvation, a person couldn’t seem to win. Hunting seemed simpler then, though all of the deer, rabbits, and squirrels bounded in straight lines across your field of vision, and could usually be taken out with a single bullet.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Pay a visit to the Internet Archive and experience the thrills and threats of settler life firsthand, because Oregon Trail is now free to play online. This title, along with so many others, is among the childhood gems that is now available to play from the site that brought you the internet’s time capsule, The Wayback Machine.
Retro gamers will also be elated to know, if they didn’t already, that not only can you re-live the 1990s excitement of pixelated pioneership, but that other classic games like Zelda Classic, Super Street Fighter II, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, Girlfriend Construction Set, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Mission, and Duck Tales: The Quest for Gold are also available to play. The catch to this complimentary vintage gaming graveyard? Not all of the titles work perfectly.
Of the 2,393 games available on the site, the administrator writes that feedback is appreciated. In a post that announced the release of new titles, curator and game wielder Jason Scott asked that fans do their part by reporting bugs as they are encountered. “Some of [the games] will still fall over and die,” writes Scott, “and many of them might be weird to play in a browser window, and of course you can’t really save things off for later, and that will limit things too. But on the whole, you will experience some analogue of the MS-DOS program, in your browser, instantly.”
Scott does not exaggerate. Of the more than 2,000 games available to browse, a large percentage of them do sputter and choke; some will not even start up. However, that seems a small price to pay to rekindle a love affair with some classic titles–like Oregon Trail–who’s modern revamps haven’t quite been able to capture the dull, clunky charm of their predecessors.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a family to pack up and move. Cross your fingers for me?