Boulder Dash Deluxe (Switch, Xbox, Atari VCS, PC, Mobile)

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 revisit that classic with Boulder Dash Deluxe.  It’s really just more of the same from Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary that I reviewed last year.  It almost seems like an expansion pack in a way. But you get new levels, settings, and even stages taken directly from the classic game!  It’s available for many of today’s current consoles, PC, and mobile devices, but reviewed on Switch here.

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 that will make you lose a life if you touch one.

Some levels are more action oriented, while others are more like puzzles.  Certain enemies will react differently if you squish them with a boulder.  Some will explode like dynamite when squished, and others 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!  To unlock levels, you’ll need to earn stars by beating stages with a high score, three stars per stage.

Only main problem I had with this one is they don’t explain how the power-ups work very well, and that they are set to the face buttons so if you accidentally press them, you’ll use them up!  They just kind of assume you played the last game.  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, “Uh oh!” 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 Deluxe is rated E for Everyone.

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