Eighties and '90s kids, "The Oregon Trail" is back — this time as a card game.
The new version, created by Pressman Toy Co., is based on the classic video game designed to teach about the perils of 19th century pioneers' journeys West and is sold only at Target stores, the retailer said in a news release Monday.
"The Oregon Trail," created in 1971, was a popular home and classroom computer game, despite the high odds of death by dysentery, typhoid or snakebite before completing the journey and winning the game.
The game sold at Target isn't the first updated version. The Learning Co., a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which owns the license to "The Oregon Trail," created a Facebook game in 2011. The Learning Co. now has an app version called "The Oregon Trail: American Settler."
Last week, it was the 316th-most popular game in the Google Play app store and ranked 248th among family games in Apple's app store, according to App Annie, a company that helps app publishers track sales and metrics. Last year, the Internet Archive put a free version of the game online as part of a collection of MS-DOS-based games and programs.
When "Oregon Trail" was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame earlier this year, it was credited with introducing kids to computers, as well as teaching them about American history, according to a news release from the Strong National Museum of Play, but Pressman Toy's version takes the game analog amid a rekindled interest in screen-free games.
Even as smartphone games like "Pokemon Go" make headlines, Target is seeing double-digit growth in board game sales and is working with game-makers to develop exclusive tabletop games, Scott Nygaard, Target's senior vice president of merchandising said in a news release.
"The Oregon Trail" card game is one of 50 Target-exclusive games it plans to release this fall, the company said.
Target isn't the only company seeing growing interest in traditional games. Games and puzzles were the fastest-growing toy category in 2015, with sales up nearly 11%, according to market research firm the NPD Group.
Smartphones and tablets took a toll on the traditional game and puzzle industry in recent years, with U.S. sales dropping nearly 13% between 2010 and 2012, according to a March report by Euromonitor International analyst Matthew Hudak. But 2015 sales — an estimated $2.56 billion — were back above 2010 levels.
Most of those sales are still coming from the biggest toy brands — Hasbro and Mattel accounted for five of the eight biggest game and puzzle brands in the U.S. last year, according to Euromonitor — but growth is also coming from niche games pitched to millennials, Hudak said in the report.
"These games can be either competitive or cooperative and are typically aimed at adults looking for an activity to do while drinking and socializing with friends," Hudak wrote.
Some, like "Cards Against Humanity," are from new, independent game brands, one of the highest-growth areas in game and puzzle sales, according to Euromonitor.
Other game-makers are aiming for nostalgic customers by bringing back old-school classics. In addition to the "Oregon Trail" game, Target will be selling a line of "retro edition" Hasbro games, including "Monopoly," "Sorry," "Clue" and "Candy Land."
Target and Pressman Toy said the new "Oregon Trail" game mimics its predecessor down to early computer game-style 8-bit graphics and the grim fates standing between players and victory.
"We have done our best to build in all sorts of gruesome 19th century ways for you, your friends and your family to die along the trail," Jeff Pinsker, president of Pressman Toy, said in a video posted on the company's website.
Zumbach writes for the Chicago Tribune.