Gold Rush
Review By: Darth Phenom

Californication. A term which the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers (arguably the greatest band of all time since Styx) believe that they coined. They are little more than naughty, lying children. The term can actually trace its roots back to the glory days of the Beach Boys and Sandy Kaufax or perhaps more correctly back to a gentleman by the name of James Marshall. Yes, without this gentleman, it is possible to conceive the entire planet would be somewhat different today. Without this man, the glory of Listen To Me might not have even existed. Perhaps we should all spit on his grave at this terrible alternate result.

Oh, it has come to my attention, that most of you were discovering the rare pleasures of (bestial) sex and/or playing Battleship in the bathroom during fourth grade history class and thus you will have no notion of who this gentleman is. Well, I am not entirely certain here but he made some contribution to something simply known as "The Great Californian Gold Rush of 18??". (As I am writing this piece of brilliance, various debates wage in the elite ranks of the LTM hierarchy as to exactly when this occurrence occurred. You may email me with the correct answer and you will win a mystery prize.)

Apparently, this Gold Rush was of such importance that way back in 1987, Sierra saw fit to dedicate an entire game to it. And here you were thinking that this piece of text was a guide on how to limit your exposure to various STD's during your adventures into the red light districts of your respective cities. No, we will save that for another time, children.

Our quest begins in Brooklyn Heights, NY in the pre-gold rush days of the 1840's. We are introduced to a young man by the name of Jerrod Wilson, an angst-ridden banker who dreams of a life of adventure in the distant land of California. Initially, the game would appear rather dull as you're given absolutely no clue as to what you're supposed to be doing and thus will most likely only lead to frustration. You'll be delighted to know that this will never change.

As always with Sierra games, refraining from saving at a minimum of every two seconds will see you smashing your motherboard (yes, your motherboard) with rage as you're constantly beaten, raped or massacred from anything ranging from a small child to a regiment of man-eating ants. Even more annoying are random deaths that occur from cholera, malaria or boredom and force you to restart your entire game over, as simply restoring will do you little good. Oh, the sense of humour that Sierra design team had!

On the upside, things do get quite interesting, as the game is packed with interesting historical and geographical facts. I'm certain this will be a huge draw point for our target audience, a generation raised on Ninja Turtles and Beavis and Butthead. The game does provide you with no less than three different methods of reaching California (and you thought Indy was the first to accomplish this feat). The first being by wagon, similar to the Oregon Trail but without the strategy and hunting aspects.

Second, and most boring (or interesting, depending on your views of unrelated facts about the Southern Hemisphere) via Cape Horn. This route also contains the most illogical puzzle I believe I have witnessed in an adventure game. It involves you having to catch fish and repair the ship in a limited amount of time with only a dead chicken, a pair of pants and a short piece of string at your disposal.

Thirdly, we have the third route. This route will take you on an extremely exciting tour of the Caribbean and contains the best gameplay of the three. Yes, there are three routes. Three. However, to gain access to this THIRD route (it of course being the third route and there are three routes) you will have to be a smartie man in Brooklyn and not waste your precious dollars on meaningless trifles such as mosquito repellant and a pick axe. By the way, there are three routes.

Things heat up when you finally reach California. Illogical puzzles involving horses, pigeons and pan handling make for an incredibly enjoyable gaming experience. Why, you even have the privilege of crawling through a colonial sewer built entirely by one man! Oh, how I long for the virtual reality remake of this classic. While pan handling there is a rather amusing death scene involving being hanged if you attempt to pan handle next to another man. He will not be amused by this gesture. Crazy Americans! Surely it is worth enduring the aforementioned hardships dealt by this game just for this incredible moment of gaming history.

The graphics and sound are truly cutting-edge entertainment. I have never been as impressed by technology as I have with the wonders of this gem. This truly showcases the abilities of the amazing 16 colour EGA graphics card and the even more phenomenal PC speaker. I guarantee you'll be enthralled by this carnival of technological mania! There is no better reason to throw away your worthless Apple computer and buy a PC immediately than this marvel. Go on, spoil yourself.

Seriously, this game can be worth the effort of finding it on an abandonware site (I mean legally purchase it) as it is somewhat enjoyable. I do advise you to only play with the aid of an intelligently written walkthrough (unlike the one I utilised which was apparently written by a Korean individual who seemed highly fluent in the English language indeed) or otherwise you'll be raping goats with frustration. Yes, with frustration. Of course, I do take pride in being somewhat of a weirdo and find great fascination with history and geography. Hell, an ambition of mine is to be a meteorologist. Remember, it has three routes!


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