U2 once sang, “So we’re told this is the Golden Age / And gold is the reason for the wars we wage.” Deep stuff, but philosophies that ring true in songs don’t necessarily translate in the digital world. Take the game Peak Gold, for instance. Its main character, rendered in the cutest anime style possible, is so cheerful and hard-working, it’s impossible to suspect that his hours of gold-grabbing are at all motivated by greed.
Regardless, Peak Gold is all about collecting the glittery stuff, so you gotta do what you gotta do. You control the game’s nameless miner, who sits up in a crane and lowers a claw to grab boulders and nuggets of gold (in addition to some stray gems) as they slide by on conveyer belts. When you fill the collection quota for a level, you descend deeper into the mineshaft and continue your job.
Unsurprisingly, collecting gold gets trickier the further you descend. The nuggets get smaller, move faster, and are mixed up among boulders and other useless trash. If you hook a plain ol’ rock instead of gold, the crane operator lugs it upwards with agonizing slowness, and you can’t do any more collecting until it’s been landed. If time runs out before you fill your quota, the crane runs out of gas and the mineshaft is plunged into darkness along with the crane operator–who, we assume, is left alone in the darkness to scream and scream forever.
I’m saying he’s a gold digger.
Peak Gold is a tricky game to grade. It’s simple to learn, but progressing is difficult. By level three, snagging enough gold to fill your quota is frustratingly hard. The trick is to hit “Fever Mode” as often as possible, which is done by collecting gold pieces at a steady rhythm. In Fever Mode, the countdown freezes, you can shoot two crane arms at once, and the frequency at which gold appears on the conveyer belt increases dramatically. But maintaining the tempo that’s necessary to hit Fever Mode is no small task.
What saves Peak Gold is the inclusion of an in-game store. Turns out all those yellow rocks you haul are worth something, and you can use them to upgrade your crane, and increase the frequency at which gold drops on the conveyer belt. When you replay previous levels with upgrades in place, you notice a definite difference, and success gradually becomes easier.
The inclusion of the store is a blessing, because it would be a shame to write off Peak Gold entirely. But be warned: though the game is good for passing the time at a bus stop on a damp day, it’ll kindle personal fantasies of accumulating insane amounts of wealth. Don’t cry in public.