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Publisher: GameHouse    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Any CPU    Hard Disk: 50 MB    Graphics: 800x600 @ 32-bit

Gold Rush - Treasure Hunt
April 28, 2009 | Richard Hallas

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The Gold Rush - Treasure Hunt title screen changes to reflect your progress
Just about every new casual game I've seen in recent months seems to have been a hidden object, time management (Diner Dash-style) or match-three jewel game, so it's a pleasant change to find something that doesn't fall under one of those headings.

Having said that, Gold Rush - Treasure Hunt does almost qualify as a match-three game, but luckily it's different enough from the established routine to be an interesting change. It's closest in spirit to the Super Collapse! genre. The idea is that you're digging down into a mine to uncover gold nuggets. You're also following the treasure map of a ghostly former miner called Jack (why didn't they call him Doug?), and along the way you'll have the opportunity to collect some of his buried treasures. The story, as usual, is pretty silly, but your basic aim is just to play the same game over and over again, collecting gold nuggets. The more nuggets you collect, the faster you progress through the overall game map.

Digging for Gold
Start a game and you're presented with a mine shaft, filled at the bottom with rubble in three colours. As the screen gradually scrolls upwards, you must click on groups of three or more blocks of the same colour to clear them and allow rubble above to drop down. If you clear a column, the rubble on one side shifts sideways, towards the centre of the screen, to close up the gap. Clear the whole screen and you get a points bonus, but the screen continues to scroll upwards and reveal more blocks to clear.

After a little while, a key and a treasure chest will appear, and if you can make them fall towards each other until they collide, the chest opens to give you a bonus. Shortly after that, gold nuggets start to appear within the rubble. Your aim is to cause at least three nuggets to touch together; once you've got at least that many touching, a click on the group will collect them and end the level. Only touching nuggets count: if there are others on the screen that aren't touching the ones you clicked, you miss them and they're wasted.

Collecting a group of nuggets ends the current level, but the game then clears the screen with a big explosion and carries on from where you left off, so levels are actually quite arbitrary in nature; in essence you end them whenever you like, and can do so strategically.

The way to lose this game is to get rubble trapped at the top of the screen. This may happen because you haven't been clicking quickly enough and a column has built up from bottom to top. Much more likely, though, is that you've got some rubble trapped on a ledge and have been unable to match it with anything. Although the mine shaft is generally quite sheer, with only minor fluctuations in the walls, there are occasionally ledges that are wide enough to hold a bit of rubble, and if you're not able to get rid of it before it becomes trapped at the top of the screen, it's game over.


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