Gold Rush!

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Gold Rush!
Gold Rush cover.jpg
Developer(s)Sierra On-Line
Publisher(s)Sierra On-Line
The Software Farm
Sunlight Games
Designer(s)Ken MacNeill
Doug MacNeill
Programmer(s)Ken MacNeill
Artist(s)Robert Eric Heitman
Doug MacNeill
Composer(s)Anita Scott
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh, Apple II, Apple IIGS
Genre(s)Adventure game

Gold Rush! (later retitled California: Gold Rush!)[1] is a graphic adventure game originally released by Sierra On-Line in 1988. It was designed by Doug and Ken MacNeill.

Gold Rush! is one of the last games that Sierra made with the AGI interface and is one of the most complicated.

The rights to the game are currently owned and published by The Software Farm by its original developers the MacNeills.[1]


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.

There are 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 and in multiple slots. Once Jerrod arrives in Sacramento, the three routes converge and all of the puzzles are the same.

Once in California, Jerrod must try to prospect for gold, avoid bandits, and locate his mysterious brother.

Copy protection[edit]

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.


In 1989, Dragon gave the game 4½ out of 5 stars.[2] Computer Gaming World gave the game a positive review, noting it mixes historical simulation with Sierra's traditional adventure gameplay.[3] 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.[4]

In 2011, Adventure Gamers named Gold Rush! the 96th-best adventure game ever released.[5]


Collector's edition[edit]

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.[1]


The German game developer Sunlight Games secured the rights and re-released the original version on July 25, 2014.[6] A remake with the named Gold Rush! Anniversary was released on November 7, 2014 for Microsoft Windows.[7] OS X and Linux versions were released later in November 2014. The ports for iOS and Android were released in March 2015. All graphics are prerendered, but all animations and characters are displayed in real time 3D. The game's graphics are in high definition and the music was remade. All text from the original game was optimized with newly recorded voiceovers. The game can be controlled by a point and click control or with a parser (only Windows, Linux and Mac), which is similar to the old Sierra games which use the AGI interface.[8] Gold Rush! 2 was released in April 2017 as a sequel to Gold Rush! Anniversary.[9]

Sunlight Games has released a limited Special Edition, which is limited to 350 pieces. The content of this box which is similar to the old Sierra boxes is: a box with a banderole, a copy on DVD which is DRM-free, a poster, a card with the serial number, a printed making-of booklet, a printed booklet with concept drawings and a golden-colored coin in the design of Gold Rush! The Special Edition can only be ordered at Sunlight Games' online shop.

Adventure Gamers gave the remake 1½ stars out of 5.[10] Just Adventure gave the game B-.[8] 3rd-strike gave the game 7.0.[11]


  1. ^ a b c "The Software Farm – California Gold Rush". Archived from the original on December 12, 2011.
  2. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (May 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (145): 44–53.
  3. ^ Chaut, Michael (April 1989), "'Californy' or Bust", Computer Gaming World, pp. 59–60
  4. ^ Guerra, Bob (August 1989). "Gold Rush". Compute!. p. 73. Archived from the original on March 16, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  5. ^ AG Staff (December 30, 2011). "Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  6. ^ "Gold Rush! Classic". Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  7. ^ "Gold Rush: Der Sierra-Klassiker bekommt ein Remake" (in German). December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Houser, Jeffry (November 18, 2014). "Gold Rush! Anniversary Review". Just Adventure. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  9. ^ "Gold Rush!". Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  10. ^ Ehrenhofler, Courtney (January 16, 2015). "Gold Rush! Anniversary review". Adventure Gamers. Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Bart (December 13, 2014). "Gold Rush Anniversary – Review". 3D strike. Retrieved February 5, 2015.

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