Gold Rush!

aka: Gold Rush! Classic
Moby ID: 440
DOS Specs
Buy on DOS
$47.60 used on eBay
Buy on Windows
$1.49 new on Steam
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Special Edition

Description official descriptions

In Gold Rush!, Jerrod Wilson (the player character) receives a letter from his long-lost brother (who fled the city years before when was hastily accused and convicted of a crime he didn't commit) asking him to join in Sacramento, California. If that's not enough for Jerrod sell everything and give his hometown Brooklyn a fond adieu, under the stamp was one of the first nuggets of Californian gold seen in the Atlantic shores of the United States. So, Jerrod bids farewell to his peaceful life as a newspaper editor, and becomes a fore-runner in the the great Gold Rush of 1849, hoping to find his brother and "strike gold" (literally).

Released late into the lifespan of Sierra's AGI engine, Gold Rush! features some tricks not seen before the more advanced SCI engine, such as enlarged characters, but it is best known for the three routes available to reach California: by land, travel by boat to reach the Atlantic shore of Panama, cross the isthmus, and then get a second boat in the Pacific shore, or making the dangerous all-boat trip by Cape Horn. Each route has its dangers: Cholera might strike as you make your way across the Northern states or your boat might sink. As usual with Sierra adventures, instant killing happens if the player is careless, but will also happen at random. Other important (and innovative) concept is the game being timed. If Jerrod takes too long to leave Brooklyn, passages to California increase in price, and his house devalues.

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Credits (DOS version)

6 People

Interpreter / Development System
Graphics / Artwork



Average score: 69% (based on 9 ratings)


Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 70 ratings with 4 reviews)

This is my alltime favourite Sierra AGI game

The Good
The feeling of freedom, actually believing that you could basicly do anything. Pick the route myself to California. There storyline held all to the end, the graphics are the best I have seen when it compared to other games developed with the Sierra adventure game interpretor.

The Bad
The nasty disk error that i got when taking the boat to the West. Has nothing much to do with the game tho, more on how I treated my floppies in the 80s.

The Bottom Line
Is you liked the other Sierra games with the text input (Larry 1, Space Quest 1,2 etc) you'r gonna love this one. The puzzles and the adventure in this game kicks ass, I had more fun with this when I first played that I have with Quake 3 today.

DOS · by Mats Rade (29) · 2000

Entertaining AND a historically accurate learning experience!

The Good
This game threw me off when it first came out because they had it at my school and of course any game they had at school for kids to play wasn't going to be fun but I was already an experienced Sierra game player so I knew it was probably fun. To my surprise, it was much like the older King's Quests in the sense that you wander around exploring and solving little puzzles. But it took place in early America which was kind of a breath of fresh air.

The game has 3 main different paths you can take to add to the replayability of the game and in addition to that, it makes you think that there are actually events that could have happened but didn't due to the choice you made, unlike strict-linear-games that don't let you feel that.

The game takes you through all sorts of twists and turns all the way to Cali and many events take place along the way.

A wonderful change of pace from the rest of the Sierra adventure series and loaded with enough game play to last you a long time.

The Bad
There wasn't really anything I didn't like about this game.

The Bottom Line
An excellent adventure game to experience. If you liked the King's Quest and series alike, you will definitely want to give this one a try.

DOS · by OlSkool_Gamer (88) · 2004

From New York to California -- Getting there is half the fun!

The Good
In 1987, California patrol officer Jim Walls was hired by Sierra to create an realistic adventure game, encouraging players to use real police procedures to deal with the dangerous situations they faced. A year later, realism was also incorporated into a game that was created by Ken and Doug MacNeill, the brothers who were part of the King's Quest development team. This time, the game is based on the California gold rush in 1848.

Aptly named Gold Rush!, the game is set in Brooklyn Heights 1848 and we are introduced to Jerrod Wilson, a New York resident who wants to go to California and strike it rich. After the introduction, we are given a look at what players will experience during the game (via four windows). I think this is neat, as not many games around its time do that. Before Jerrod heads to California, he has to sell his house, quit his day job, and get ready for the journey ahead. Like Police Quest before it, it is based on real events. (The gold rush really took place in 1848, and there was indeed a President Polk that served at the time.)

Gold Rush! introduces many firsts as far as Sierra adventure games go. Although it was one of the last games to feature the aging AGI interface, it is the first to play a melody when you score a point, and this changes halfway through the game into a much longer one. It also features sprite-enlargement. In some scenes, for instance, Jerrod will become larger as he gets closer to the bottom of the screen, and an example of this is in his house.

What makes this game shine is that it was the first Sierra game to feature multiple paths. If you feel like it, you can get to California by sea (via Cape Horn or Panama) or by land (by signing up to the Joint Stock Mining Company). Due to the variety of routes, Gold Rush! is worth playing more than once. Regardless of the route you're taking, you have to do certain things beforehand, mainly by purchasing stuff that will help you get to Cali safely. During your trek, the game will point out certain locations and tell you about them, although you have the option to turn them off.

The graphics in the game are the best I ever seen in an AGI game. Everything (including the buildings and the characters) is drawn to reflect what they look like in the 1800's. Most of the music is blend in with the music common in that era and it actually sounds pretty good, especially if users already have a Tandy computer since the machine is capable of producing three voices instead of just one.

Another neat feature of Gold Rush! is the copy protection itself, which kicks in as soon as you start the game. Like most games, not just Sierra's, you are required to enter a specific word from the manual. If you type in the wrong word, the word "Gotcha!" is displayed and you are required to hang yourself. The same thing happens if you try to steel gold away from your fellow diggers. Nowhere in games from other companies have I seen this technique!

There are not a lot of puzzles in the game, just adventuring. The only one I faced was the cemetery puzzle, where you have to find out which room you have to go to in the hotel. If there are more puzzles, it shouldn't take you more than five minutes to complete.

The Bad
I hate the way that the game runs on a timer as soon as you start the game, and as soon as it expires you really can't do anything but load a previously saved game. This gets more frustrating if you make a few mistakes that cost you some time.

The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Gold Rush is an adventure game based on a series of events that happened during the California gold rush, and it is a game that allows you to travel to California using one of three different routes. Whichever way you go, you are offered a nice, big lecture about the area, or the history of it, as you pass through it. The nice graphics and sound effects just shows how Sierra's AGI interpreter has improved, leading up to the beginning of a new era for SCI0 games.

The MacNeills left Sierra a long time ago to form The Software Farm, and as part of its 10th anniversary, they decided to make Gold Rush! available on their web site. It is not a remake, but the original floppy disks shipped with a user manual and a large poster showing the three routes, all sealed in a wooden pencil box that I used to have at school. Their web site also encourages small companies to publish their software through them, but they were unsuccessful so far.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43093) · 2012

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Running the game in Dosbox Nowhere Girl (8680) Jul 26, 2012


Alternative Routes

Gold Rush! has an - for an adventure game - unusual replay value, as there are three different routes you can take to get to California. Each one of them offers its own puzzles and scenes.

Copy Protection

The game uses text from the manual to prevent software piracy. If the wrong word is entered, the player will be arrested and hanged on grounds of claim jumping.


The designers re-released the game in 1998 as California Gold Rush!.


Although not the last Sierra adventure to use the AGI engine, Gold Rush! certainly tried pushing the old EGA technology to the limit. Certain scenes involve a much larger character walking around, something used much more convincingly in later SCI titles such as King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella.

Information also contributed by game nostalgia, nicholas mccolm and Ricky Derocher.


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Related Sites +

  • Crapshoot
    A humorous text on PC Gamer which talks about weird aspects of some games; including this one.
  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIgs versions of Gold Rush under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.
  • Sunlight Games
    The independent game developer Sunlight Games re-released Gold Rush! News and media.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 440
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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by MajorDad.

Amiga added by POMAH. Macintosh, Apple IIgs added by Kabushi. Atari ST added by Martin Smith. Apple II added by Terok Nor. Windows added by LepricahnsGold.

Additional contributors: uclafalcon, Macs Black, Renat Shagaliev, Patrick Bregger, Karsa Orlong.

Game added November 16, 1999. Last modified December 3, 2023.