If you’re as old as I am at 36 years of age then Boulder Dash will hold some real fond memories in your gaming life. The original launched in 1984, a year before I was born and paved the way for a true classic which would see several appearances spanning almost four decades. The retro and arcade puzzler is back with a Boulder Dash Deluxe developed and published by BBG Entertainment GmbH.
The History of Boulder Dash
Boulder Dash was first released on Atari 8-bit computers created by Canadian developers Peter Liepa and Chris Gray. A 2D maze-puzzle game where you traverse through caves and collect treasures whilst avoiding hazards. I recall playing this on my Atari when I was around five years old and being completely addicted. This was perhaps my first recollection of being totally enthralled and submerged in a game. It required patience, precision which at various points converted to frustration. I can imagine the original devs could never have envisaged the game blossoming into huge popularity. Now in 2021, we see what appears to be the 24th port of a refreshed and reimagined instalment of the original.
Boulder Dash fans will want to keep reading!
Whilst providing the core Boulder Dash mechanics from the original titles, this deluxe version introduces diagonal movements. This makes for more intriguing and interesting gameplay through a variance of 180 all-new levels with advanced features. For the retro fans out there, 20 levels from the original title are present here and will scratch the itch for us older gamers. There is a total of nine new worlds, each with different themes such as Macmarnua Sea or Urath Castle.
Each of these sections has twenty levels to work through providing hours of content to enjoy. Only three of these worlds are unlocked at the start of the game and you’ll have to hone your skills in order to access the rest through gameplay. Completing each section grants you stars in order to trade for opening new worlds. The more you progress, the more challenging difficulty levels become. This brings on rage-inducing moments and a passion to keep going to get past everything.
Not as basic as it used to be!
The older titles used to be a case of finding enough gems and surviving until you could escape the level. New elements have been blended into Boulder Dash Deluxe. Gold bars can be collected through the worlds allowing you to unlock levels instead of stars. This is useful if you’re struggling with something in particular and just want to advance without banging your head against a brick wall in frustration. Fifty gold bars are required to unlock a level.
There are also treasure chests that can be recovered which contain loot. Rare, ultra-rare and legendary loot can be used to increase the agility and power of your character Rockford. This will allow you to take the edge off the severe challenge of the later levels and hopefully make them a little easier for yourself. There are other assists that you can find in chests. Dynamite allows you to explode rocks in your path, spy glasses give you the ability to look around each area and double score bonuses will rack up higher points.
Graphics & Sound
My first impression when loading up Boulder Dash XL was that the visuals were very reminiscent of a mobile phone game. This didn’t make the game any less enjoyable for me personally but I definitely preferred the heart and soul of the true original graphics. Perhaps the reasoning behind the basic cartoon style was the fact it is also available for the Nintendo Switch and is far best suited to the handheld device. Whether it started its development cycle focused on mobile devices and then switched to consoles and PC could be a likely explanation. For a game with minimal sound effects, it does what is expected and nothing more.
Boulder Dash Deluxe is a fun re-introduction to a true classic. There is plenty of content on offer with an abundance of new levels and experiences for hardcore fans of the franchise. Those who played the last entry in the form of Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary back in 2016 will see many familiarities and not much change. The Bouldering Comp which sees 20 retro caves from the early days adds some deep nostalgia but I would have loved to see some more in this area. For its low price point though, it is a worthy purchase for the package on offer here.