Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
US Gold was founded in Liverpool, England in 1984. Their primary purpose was to publish popular American Commodore 64 games in the UK and Europe and convert them to other popular 8-bit home computer formats in the European market, such as the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. This business plan proved to be an instant success, prompting US Gold to expand by acquiring smaller developers and seeking out licenses that they could commercialise.
US Gold continued to expand their operation well into the 1990s, when they shifted their base of operations to Birmingham. However, a number of their more lucrative licensing deals, particularly one with LucasArts (formerly Lucasfilm Games), fell through, threatening to damage their financial status quo. In order to help consolidate their finances, they joined forces with UK software distributor CentreSoft and game developers Core Design to form the CentreGold Plc Group.
The three-way partnership at the heart of CentreGold didn't last long, however, as the group was acquired by Eidos Interactive in April 1996. Eidos sold off CentreSoft and maintained Core Design as a developer but decided to discontinue the US Gold brand. The last game to bear the US Gold logo was Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996, released in June 1996 for the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PC and 3DO. The remaining US Gold games awaiting publication at the time of their acquisition by Eidos were released in August 1996.
US Gold licenses
World Cup Carnival
US Gold's most embarrassing moment came in 1986 with the release of World Cup Carnival on the C64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. The company had acquired the rights to produce the official computer game of the Mexico 86 World Cup football competition well in advance of the planned release date. The game was to be developed in-house, but programming and marketing problems arose that were unable to be overcome in time for the game's release. At the eleventh hour, US Gold acquired the rights to Artic's World Cup Football, a somewhat mediocre football game that had been released a couple of years earlier. US Gold made a few modifications and released it just in time to capitalise on the popularity of the World Cup competition.
Having been promised a revolutionary World Cup football game, gamers, critics and retailers alike saw through US Gold's thinly-veiled attempt to repackage an older game. US Gold responded to this initial criticism by suggesting that their game had significantly improved an old classic, but they later admitted their folly. Despite their poor handling of the Mexico 86 license, US Gold were awarded the official FIFA license to produce games for the Italy 90 and USA 94 World Cup tournaments.
US Gold were synonymous with Olympic sporting games for many years. The company enjoyed enormous success in the 1980s with their publication of the classic Games series from American developer Epyx. Comprising Summer Games, Summer Games II, Winter Games, World Games, California Games, California Games II, The Games: Summer Edition and The Games: Winter Edition, there was no denying US Gold's ability to successfully market a high profile sporting game.
When Epyx went out of business in 1989, US Gold were eager to continue publishing Olympic themed games. They decided to take advantage of their reputation as a publisher of quality licensed titles by seeking the official video game license for the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics. The resulting game, Olympic Gold was released in 1992 for the Sega Game Gear and Sega Master System, and the 16-bit console Sega Megadrive (the European version of the Sega Genesis). The game was a critical and commercial success, which led to US Gold producing similar titles for the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics and Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics (Winter Olympics and Olympic Summer Games respectively). The latter would be the last game to bear the US Gold logo.
- The cassette versions of US Gold's games had a very characteristic loading screen (loading games from cassette usually took several minutes): the computer would play synthesized renderings of The Star-Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle, and Dixie's Land repeatedly, in that order, until the loading of the game finished and gameplay could commence. While playing the music the screen would display a countdown of the remaining number of "blocks" to be loaded, along with a scrolling line of text advertising other US Gold games—existing as well as upcoming ones.
- US Gold information – At MobyGames
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