|California: Gold Rush!|
Cover art for Gold Rush!
|Developer(s)||Doug MacNeill, Ken MacNeill|
|Publisher(s)||The Software Farm (originally Sierra On-Line)|
|Release date(s)||1988, 2000|
California: Gold Rush! (originally Gold Rush!) is a graphic adventure game originally released by Sierra On-Line in 1988. It was designed by Doug and Ken MacNeill. Players move a man from screen to screen, and type in simple commands to control him. The rights to the game are currently owned and published by The Software Farm by its original developers the MacNeills.
The game is set in 1848, just before the California Gold Rush. The player is Brooklyn newspaperman Jerrod Wilson, who soon receives word that he must go to Sacramento to meet his long-lost brother. After a few minutes of gameplay, word arrives that gold has been found in California, and it becomes much more difficult for Jerrod to settle his affairs in Brooklyn and find a way to Sacramento (for instance, the price of tickets skyrockets).
The game is notable for its inclusion of multiple paths which Jerrod can take to get to his brother. He can travel on a stagecoach, which is the cheapest path, and the only path that is always available to Jerrod, no matter how long he spends in Brooklyn. This path brings Jerrod into contact with Native Americans, unruly oxen, parching deserts, and the likelihood of a winter storm in the Sierra Nevada. He can travel on a ship to Panama, cross through treacherous swamps and jungles on foot, and catch another ship to Sacramento. This route is more expensive than the others and also requires Jerrod to prepare carefully for many hazards of the tropical climate of Panama, from malaria to jungle ants to crocodiles. The third—and most time-consuming—path is to journey all the way around Cape Horn on a ship. This choice has its own perils, from storms to scurvy. In each route, Jerrod could perish at random by a disease to which there was no cure, such as cholera, forcing players to save their game whenever possible. Once Jerrod arrives in Sacramento, the three routes converge and all of the puzzles are the same.
Once in California, Jerrod must try his hand at prospecting, avoid bandits, and locate his mysterious brother.
Gold Rush! is one of the last games that Sierra made with the AGI interface and is one of the most complicated. However, this has not prevented it from becoming one of the lesser-known Sierra adventure games.
The Software Farm released a Collector's Edition of California: Gold Rush! in a wooden box in 2000. They also released an economy pack with just the game in an envelope.
Gold Rush used words from the manual as a form of copy protection. If the user failed to enter the correct word, their character would immediately be arrested for claim jumping and hanged on the gallows, which is the same as the regular in-game punishment for claim jumping, being caught in someone's hotel room, or stealing.
The game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #145 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4½ out of 5 stars. Computer Gaming World gave the game a positive review, noting it mixes historical simulation with Sierra's traditional adventure gameplay. Compute! called Gold Rush "entertaining, somewhat educational, and a terrific escapade for first-time adventure game players", but warned that its simplicity might disappoint veteran gamers and that the graphics were inferior to that of some other Sierra adventures.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (May 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (145): 44–53.
- Chaut, Michael (April 1989), ""Californy" or Bust", Computer Gaming World: 59–60
- Guerra, Bob (1989-08). "Gold Rush". Compute!. p. 73. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- Gold Rush! at MobyGames
- Gold Rush! at the Internet Movie Database
- Gold Rush! review at Adventure Gamers
- Walkthrough for Gold Rush!