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 one that is always available to Jerrod, no matter how long he spends in Brooklyn. This path also brings Jerrod into contact with Native Americans, unruly oxen, and parching deserts. 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 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, 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 original releases are generally known as 'Gold Rush', but the name 'California: Gold Rush!' does appear on the password protect screen with image of the old minor in original releases. The Software Farm repackaged edition was also referred to as "California: Gold Rush!" on the boxes/manuals, but this does nto appear in the new intro that lacks the password protect screen.
Later modified versions include;
- Gold Rush! for Apple IIGS (This is the same as the original release, but it included improved sound effects and music)
- California: Gold Rush!(The Software Farm 2000 economy & Collector's Edition)
- Gold Rush! Classic (Sunlight Games 2014 digital release, same as the Software Farm release)
These are the same games with slight cosmetic difference such as the developer/producer page modified, or in manual and packaging, and or removal of copyright protection The digital version entitled "classic" is virtually the same as the Software Barn version minus copy protection.
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.
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 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. Computer Gaming World gave the game a positive review, noting it mixes historical simulation with Sierra's traditional adventure gameplay.
Behind the scenesEdit
Gold Rush! is currently owned by original developers, and sold through their company the Software Farm. They released it in 2000 with a collector's edition box-set, which included bonus material like posters, and other gimmicks.