DOES the idea of getting money for nothing appeal to you? Of literally picking your living off the ground? To the population of North America in 1848-49 it did. And it began one of the largest mass migrations in history.
Gold Rush from Sierra On-Line is one of the latest offereings in the 3D Animated Adventure series. These take the form of a sort of film in which you play the leading role, moving your character around a 3D landscape and interacting with other animated characters and objects.
Movement is via keyboard, joystick or mouse. The mouse control si good because all you have to do is position the pointer where you want to go, hold down the right button, and Jerrod will walk towards it. It can be a little difficult getting in and out of doors this way, a joystick is better there.
The game opens with a well animated and quite humorous title sequence which can give you a few useful hints if you watch closely. The sequence leaves you, Jerrod Wilson, on a bridge in Brooklyn circa 1848. The rest is up to you.
Everyone you meet seems to be talking about the gold strike in California and of all the people heading out that way. You must make preparations for your departure and stock up on things you think you might need for your trek.
And decide how to get there, because - without giving too much away - there are three ways to get to the gold country, two by ship and one overland. This is an adventure with a multiple-route solution. It would be nice to see more.
One of the first problems you may face is being desperately short of cash, although your credit is still good in a few stores. Perhaps your bank manager would be sympathetic, or you could try to sell your house before the market collapses again.
Points are gained for making correct decisions. Some are given just for being a nice guy, like if you put flowers on your parents' grave. This means you always have something to aim for. Even if you successfully complete the first stage of the adventure, you may have missed something that would have given you a perfect score.
The animation is fairly smooth but in a rather slow resolution, which shows its PC ancestry. There is generally quite a lot going on in each scene. Some of the animations are entertaining, although they can be slow.
One annoying problem is that on an unexpanded Amiga most screens have to be loaded in from disc each time and although a 1 meg machine will cache several screens, there is still a second or two delay between them because they have to be decompressed.
The sound effects are terrible. Despite a few nice musical jokes it is imperative for your sanity that you turn the sound off.
The game comes on two discs and you certainly get your money's worth with all the booklets, maps and expensively printed instruction cards.
One of the books is a short history - more than 80 pages - of the gold rush era. This is also used as a novel way of security (pun intended). Instead of asking you for a specific word from the book it asks you a question from the text. It gives you a hint as to which page to look on.
One last point: Gold Rush multitasks, so if you have the inclination, the memory and a multi-tasking brain you can run other programs at the same time. Or even play two games of Gold Rush at once. Or three. Or four. Or...