I love exploration games. Games where you depart for the unknown, explore terra incognita and discover new civilisations. And that brings us to The Seven Cities of Gold, a game developed by Ozark Softscape and published by Ariolasoft (EU) / Electronic Arts (NA) in 1984.
And this is the game that inspired a certain Sid Meier to work on a title called Pirates. In fact, Seven Cities was well ahead of its time and even today, 30 years after its release, it’s still a blast to play (assuming you are into that genre).
Set sail. Explore. Discover.
The goal of the game is to set sail for the New World, send expeditions inland and build settlements, while trading with the indigenous people or, if things turn bad, fight them. The game itself is open ended and you are free to decide what to do. Another big plus is the option to randomise or create your own world, which adds immensely to its replay value.
A new day
The sun is rising on a day full of promise for the future. History waits to be made. Its shape is in your grasp.
After leaving Europe the player finds himself in the middle of the Atlantic and has to guide his expedition westwards. Upon arriving in the New World the player is free to do however he pleases. Should I make landfall and send a party inland, or should I sail along the coast? Perhaps I should build a fort. Decisions, decisions.
If the player decides to visit one of the villages he can drop gifts to calm down hostile tribesmen and should look out for the tribal chief, with whom the player can then trade goods. But not all tribes will welcome the expedition with open arms and will outright attack the player. And then there’s only two options: Retreat of fight.
I recorded the following video to demonstrate the general gameplay. Now, I haven’t played that game in ages and made numerous mistakes, including aimlessly walking around and wasting food. Seriously, if I would have been in charge of a real expedition it most likely would’ve ended in disaster.
The Spanish Crown is pleased
Well, not just them. Me, too! Even after three decades the game hasn’t lost any of its appeal. Yes, graphics and sound seem to be from the last ice age compared to modern games. But it’s all about the gameplay, something I often miss in todays games. But if you will excuse me for now, I have to go back to the game and lead another expedition to
doom and failure fame and fortune.