The Seven Cities of Gold was remarkably addictive for those players interested in empire building and world discovery. Set during the heyday of Spain's exploration expeditions, the game features aspects of both role playing, economic management and adventure. Most of the exploration and navigation is accomplished through use of a top-down perspective whereas much of the "administrative" aspects are dealt with via 3D screen shots (which contains some very nice artwork).
At its core, The Seven Cities of Gold relies on astute balancing of the many economic considerations to ensure success. The game employs an interesting spin on win conditions and requires the player to meet a minimum level of accomplishment in order to continue exploration and expansion. Basically, you must sail to the New World and establish a minimum of one mission, one colony and three forts within a span of ten voyages. If you can meet these conditions, the game continues with a healthy amount of exploration, gold hunting and interaction with native populations. Throughout the game, however, you must develop good economic balances and maintain profitability in future voyages. The more successful the explorer is, however, the less help he receives from the "Crown" (the folks back at home port). Random generation of continents is an extremely important feature of the game as it creates an arena of play that ensures significant replay value.
Three levels of difficulty provide varying degrees of challenge and determine the amount of help the Crown is willing to dispense. You can play at the novice, journeyman and expert level. Once on solid ground, the speed of your explorations relies on various factors such as terrain (forest, mountain, river, desert, jungle, plains) and mode of travel (boat, horse, walking). While exploring, you come into contact with local inhabitants and your decisions on how to interact with them sets the tone for success or failure. Do you use diplomacy and set up trade or are you more interested in conquest? Do you lull them with false promises and then utilize treachery and attack without warning? These and other options are available. Of course, the main thrust of your exploration will be to discover gold and build riches beyond imagining, thus providing means for future expeditions.
The main appeal of The Seven Cities of Gold is it's simplicity of design. Exploring new worlds, building a fortune and returning to your homeland (Spain) for promotions and recognition forms the crux of the game. On the other hand, compared to advances made in the genre during the decade of the 90's, this 1984 release seems primitive in comparison. The interface is decidedly out-moded and does not support use of the mouse, but rather uses keyboard or even joystick for movement and manipulation of pop-up menus. Whether you meet small tribes of native inhabitants, local farmers or hunters or the vast empires of the Incas and Aztecs, The Seven Cities of Gold adequately provides plenty of activity for the would-be world conqueror.
Graphics: Huge number of static screens and decent artwork although a bit pixelated and blocky at times.
Sound: Nothing special of note in this area.
Enjoyment: A simplistic exercise in economics and balancing game aspects. Learning curve is moderate but once the player grasps the important aspects, game play becomes a series of repeated forays into undiscovered territory that remain basically the same.
Replay Value: Random continent generator provides a lasting (though somewhat repetitive) game arena.
Seven Cities of Gold (7COG), Commemorative Edition, is a PC remake of the classic game designed by Dan and Bill Bunten for the Atari and Commodore 64 computers. You play an explorer commissioned by the King and Queen of Spain to voyage to a new world, claim land for the Crown, negotiate with (or conquer) the natives, and gain fame and fortune for yourself. Between voyages, you'll have to buy and outfit ships and hire men to crew them. As in the original 7COG, you can play at three different skill levels, and choose to explore either the historical map (consisting of the Americas at the time of Columbus' journeys) or a land form randomly generated by the game.
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