Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary (Switch, Mobile, PC)

I’m such a staunch console gamer now that you might be surprised to learn that when I was a kid, I started out playing home games on computer.  Our first PC was an Apple ][+, and outside of arcades, that’s where I played most of my games until I got an Atari 5200.  One of the games I remember playing on that old computer was Boulder Dash.  It was an action puzzle game that was kind of like Dig Dug in that you dug through the earth, collecting gems while trying not to get squished by falling boulders.  And now you can celebrate its revival with Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary.  At first I was like, “Isn’t Boulder Dash more than 30 years old?”  And yes, it is.  This Switch version (reviewed here) is just a port of an older version that was released a few years ago on PC and mobile when it really was Boulder Dash’s 30th anniversary.  If you’d like to read more about the history of Boulder Dash, please click here.  Just make sure to read my review first!

In the game you move the hero, Rockford, around caves in four directions as he tries to collect gems.  Collect enough gems and you can open the exit and finish the level.  But it’s not that easy!  If you dig under a boulder, it’ll fall on you and you’ll have to start the level over.  Gems will also fall if you dig under them, and while they won’t kill you, they can cause a chain reaction to fall depending on what’s above.  You also have to deal with enemies like fireflies and moths.  Touch one and you’ll lose the level as well.

Some levels are more action oriented, while others are more like puzzles.  Certain enemies will react differently if you squish them with a boulder.  Fireflies will explode like dynamite when squished, and moths will turn surrounding boulders into gems when defeated.  There are also amoeba that continues to grow until you trap them in boulders, and then it’ll turn into a bunch of gems.  Gas bubbles will rise if you dig above them and defeat anyone in the way, including you!

As you dig, you may uncover treasure chests and if you complete the level after collecting them, you can open them afterward.  Treasures may have power-ups you can use in the level, like dynamite to blow up walls and boulders, snowflakes to freeze time so boulders won’t fall on you, and a score multiplier.  You can also get money and other items so you can buy more power-ups and even secret characters to play as!  Some of these characters have different attributes, like faster speed or doubles your money or score.  To unlock levels, you’ll need to earn stars by beating stages with a high score, three stars per stage.  There are more than a hundred stages, too!  Some even have themes like Halloween and you can even play ones based on levels from the classic game!

The game does a good job in getting you to learn the ropes in the early levels, but the difficulty ramps up pretty quickly!  And that’s really one of the only problems I had with the game, other than it has a mobile game feel to it in that it takes forever to buy things (no in-game purchases here, though).  But the game DID start out as a mobile title, so that explains things.  One thing that also got me in the old game and this one, too, is that I can never remember when rocks will fall straight down and when they’ll fall to the side, but maybe that’s just me.  At any rate, if you like classic games and action puzzlers, you may want to check out Boulder Dash.

Kid Factor:

You can squish enemies with boulders and get hit yourself.  But if you do, your character just spins around and says, “Oh no!” and that’s as violent as it gets.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, and younger gamers may find it a bit too difficult.  Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary is rated E for Everyone.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!