California Gold Rush 2 Review

When we last explored the mines of California Gold Rush, we loved the variety of environmental obstacles that faced us: lava, gas, cave-ins, and bats. We eagerly dived into California Gold Rush 2 only to find… lava, gas, cave-ins, and bats. And a few ghosts. Gold Rush 2 turned out to be one of those sequels, the kind that are too afraid to make any real changes and instead just serves reheated seconds.

Having played through both games, we have to say that California Gold Rush 2 is almost exactly the same game as the original. That’s great if you want more of the same environments, with a new character (mustachioed Randy Shaft, the brother of Mandy from the first game) holding the pickaxe. You’ll also encounter Indian Chief Rearing Mustang, who provides the game’s most unintentionally hilarious name since Randy Shaft.

Randy Shaft and Rearing Mustang. Seriously.

Randy has come to California to make his fortune in gold mining, and there are 40 mines to explore in this sequel. The harder the rock you try to pick through, the more energy you’ll spend, and you need to conserve enough to make it back topside to cash in your gold, while finding enough gold to meet the level’s three-star requirements.

You can beat any level just by hitting the first star, but if you enjoy the challenge, you’ll probably try to get to three stars every time. This seems a bit tougher than it was in the first game, and we suspiciously eyed the new 99-cent downloadable ‘explosives pack’ as the reason why. Now instead of using in-game gold to buy TNT for use in the mines, you can spend real money and save your in-game gold for the high score. Very sneaky, Digital Chocolate.

The hardest working gold digger since Heather Mills McCartney.

Besides the booster pack, this game offers almost nothing new from the first game. As we mentioned, ghosts are the new enemy type, but they behave exactly like bats and even stop to take a nap every few turns so you can stab ‘˜em with your pickaxe. Also, you can buy a few upgrades at the end of the game, to make revisiting earlier mines a bit easier. And while Rearing Mustang leads you to find the pieces of a totem pole instead of an Aztec treasure, the end result– a hidden cave full of gold– is still the same.

Since the first game was chosen as our Runner-Up for Game of the Month in June 2009, we’ve seen the genre improved dramatically with I Dig It Expeditions, which offers quite a bit more personality and adventure than this risk-free sequel. So while we still think you should buy the original game for just 99 cents, we can only recommend CA Gold Rush 2 if you’re dying for more of the same game, but with a mustache.

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