Released in 1985 for the Amiga, Seven Cities of Gold
was one of the earliest games to be found on the platform. Originally designed by Dan Bunten (later known as Danielle Bunten Berry) on the Atari 400/800 platforms, she stated
that the Atari versions were the “true” full versions and the rest were ports due to the limitations of the platforms at the time.
It is this reviewer’s opinion that the Amiga “port” is one of the best original versions from the 1980s to have been made, regardless if the Amiga’s visual and audio horsepower was mostly bypassed. It’s still better than the other platforms (Atari 800, Apple, Mac and IBM PC) even if it is quite blocky and limited in "sizzle".
Danielle went on to be recognized as one of the most innovative and influential game designers of all time. She also created M.U.L.E.
on earlier systems, another vastly innovative title bringing multiplayer games to the masses. She died in 1998 from lung cancer. It was reported that at the time of her death, she had been working on an internet version of M.U.L.E.
In Seven Cities of Gold
, her best selling game, Danielle brought data storage and retrieval innovations to gaming in a way not conceived of previously. She needed large and detailed randomly generated maps for the game experience to work, but storage media weren’t ready for it at the time. As explained by Bunten in Computer Gaming World magazine in October of 1984, "Our only way out was to use technologies we didn't have until we were forced to invent them." So she created disk cacheing and overlay techniques to "stream" the maps.
Has Seven Cities of Gold aged well? Somewhat, yes. Since the maps can be randomly generated there is a freshness to the game that most games of this era simply lack. While the visuals are painfully childish for Amiga standards, there is a simplicity about them that is intuitive for nearly any age level of gamer.
In today’s sensibilities, it does make one cringe a bit at how easy it can be to slaughter the natives in the New World. But to truly advance in the game (perhaps a departure from the actual reality of the times) a peaceful approach seems to reap the most rewards.
Today, this game remains a computer gaming classic. Play it on original hardware if you can - whichever platform you are able - and raise a glass to Danielle. She really was ahead of her time.
Back of the Box:
1442 - 1540
The Age of Discovery, Exploration and Conquest.
The Stage of History Belonged to Spain. Now it Belongs to You.
from Spain. Outfit your expedition and head west into the unknown. And if you make it back with gold and maps, the Court might make you a Governor General or even a Viceroy.
the New World. Explore the Mississippi and the Amazon. The Great Lakes. The Straits of Magellan. Hidden gold mines. And 200 different native settlements, from small tribes of hunters and farmers to the mighty cities of the Aztec and Incan empires.
AZTEC AND INCA
cities have the most gold. But how will you get it? Trade? Trickery? Treachery? Conquest? The natives are the key to your success. And a mirror for your soul.
OVER 2800 SCREENS
represent the worlds you'll explore, building computer drawn maps as you go. In the historical game you'll create an accurate map of the geography and populations of 16th Century North, South and Central America. And then, when you're ready . . .
Face what the conquistadors faced. Ask your computer to dream up New Worlds, worlds never before seen by anyone. Then test yourself against the utterly unknown as gold and glory, out there somewhere, draw you ever deeper into an incredible fantasy of your own creation.