A treasure, lost to time, is hidden somewhere in the city of San Francisco. Hints and clues that date to the very beginnings of this city are scattered throughout its width and breadth. Only perseverance and a sharp eye will reveal the secret of its whereabouts. A mysterious box is at the heart of this mystery, a box guarded by the spirit of an evil beast. A beast to make the bravest man quake and drive the sanest man to madness. Only one way exists to avoid the beast and the solution is hidden deep in the shattered history of the box.
The tale begins in the mists of time, at the very beginnings of lost Caledon. An evil beast plagues the kingdom for generations and is defeated, after a long struggle, by a white witch. The evil spirit is cast into a tree which is then made into a chest. Only the royal family can be trusted to carry the box through the generations. Much later, a powerful foe seizes control of the kingdom, scattering the members of the royal family to the four corners of the globe. King William, fearing that the treasure might fall into the wrong hands flees to the new world. His daughter, carrying the gems and keys of her birthright and learning of his continued existence follows him, pursued by an evil pirate. Upon arriving in the new world, she finds that her father has moved on to the developing lands of California. Doggedly she follows his trail which eventually leads to the new city of San Francisco. Her worst fears come true as her ship pulls into the bay and they are faced with the evil pirate. A fierce battle ensues and she scatters her birthright to the four corners of the city.
Generations pass and a small boy finds a bottle on the shores of the bay. Several notes and a key fall into the hands of the boy's father who then tries to piece together the ancient pieces of the puzzle. His notes become part of the box's legacy as he falls prey to the beast. His inevitable madness leads him to Angel Island where he is discovered, years later, by a doctor. The second World War is about to begin, and in these terrible times, the beast forces the doctor's hand to a gruesome end. Then, for years, nothing. Time passes and the mystery is now yours to unravel. Only by bringing all the elements together can the treasure be found.
A treasure hunt! Everyone loves a treasure hunt. If you've ever been on an Easter Egg hunt as a kid, you'll remember the excitement of finding your first egg and having the passions build as you found the next and then the next. Golden Gate offers the grown-up version of these passions with full 360 non-linear graphics. As each part of the mystery comes to light, so the excitement builds. Hints, clues and puzzles all need to be solved before reaching the elusive treasure. And always the beast watches. Beware the power of the beast. Madness lurks around every corner. Searching for treasure is a lonely business and best done alone. Watch your back!
One of the more interesting features of this game is that its story is based on authentic historical research and San Francisco legends. Combined with the thousands of watercolor images of San Francisco, the atmosphere of this game really comes alive and is uniquely suited to the story line. The 360-degree nature of the navigation system allows the player to turn in any direction and the indicator cursor makes it nearly impossible to get lost. The entire game can be easily played using only the mouse and a single mouse button. A handy inventory bar hidden at the bottom of the screen makes it easy to store and retrieve items. Another excellent feature is a map of the city, located in the inventory, which makes it easy to zoom across the city after having visited that location once. A great time saver instead of having to re-trace your steps. The atmosphere is further enhanced with 70 minutes of musical scoring and lifelike sound effects. Full motion video and genuine historical footage of turn-of-the-century San Francisco give the story a credible historical feel.
The focus of the game is a visual one, with a first-person point of view as in MYST or Zork Nemesis and a full 360 view. Items are selected and used with the cursor changing automatically as needed. The transitions from one scene to another can be changed by selecting from the hidden menu bar at the top of the screen, under Transitions. Here, turning speed, transition speed and what kind of transition can all be selected by the player. If you find that the game is moving too slowly, turn off the turning and transitions. If you've caught something out of the corner of your eye in a turn, slow it down to get a better look.
A Jukebox mode is also available. In this mode, the music from different parts of the game can be heard although the game is not active in this mode. A nice little feature if you really enjoy the soundtrack. The music to this game is only accessible through the jukebox as there are no audio tracks.
This game is best described as unique. A game with impressive impact and a visual look and sound that set it apart. One that surely deserves imitation. One can't help being impressed by the research and hard work that went into this work. This is a game that plays very well with little or no frustrations to take away from the adventure. If the visuals of the game don't catch you, I'm quite sure the spirit of the hunt will. Overall, this is a must have for any treasure hunter!
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