Treasure Island: The Gold Bug is a hidden object game based on Poe's short story "The Gold-Bug", first published in 1843. The plot follows the adventures of William Legrand, who lost his entire fortune and was forced to leave New Orleans in impoverished conditions, and move to a cabin set on Sullivan's Island near South Carolina. After being bitten by a golden beetle, Legrand becomes obsessed with treasure hunting, embarking on a quest to find the chest filled with gold coins and other booty buried by the pirate Captain Kidd.
Most of the time, the main objective is to find all the items listed at the bottom of the screen, on locations filled with assorted paraphernalia. At the left side, several buttons give access to help functions. The telescope enlarges the screen, making the search for smaller objects easier. The hint button shows the position of one of the required items, but has a limited number of hints available. After using all the hints, the player can collect the gold stars on the scenery for extra ones. The game language can be set to English, French, German, Italian or Spanish.