One of the things that mobile game seems to be great at is nostalgia. Many of the games that run on a phone feel like gussied-up versions of older titles (because many of them are). As they said on Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” And there isn’t. There is so much right with it.
So, in time for the 30th anniversary of the computing classic, an updated version of Boulder Dash hit mobile devices in 2014. Appropriately titled Boulder Dash – 30th Anniversary, the game is indeed a new entry in the franchise, one that adds new wrinkles but essentially asks the player to do what they were asked to do 30 years ago – get the various gems without getting squashed by a boulder and then make it to the exit. It is Gauntlet, but with boulders instead of orcs.
Now, Boulder Dash: 30th Anniversary has found its way, via Steam, onto PC and Mac, and it comes complete with a level editor (and thankfully an FAQ for said editor). With 220 levels (plus 40 more in DLC and whatever one creates), players can spend a ton of time collecting gems or just pop in and out for a quick level here and there.
The game is simple, bright, and colorful. The graphics aren’t stellar, but more than adequate to get the job done. The same is true of the sound.
As with so many games, levels come in snack-size – run around for 45 seconds picking up gems, get enough to open the exit, get to the exit, and you’re done. However, because it is so quick and easy to play a single level, you’re going to want to play another and another and another. Soon enough, you’re not 45 seconds in, but rather 45 minutes, late for goodness knows what, and figure you have time enough for just one more level.
The title gives from one to three stars depending on how one performs, so pick up enough extra gems (or use power-ups or the right character to make the gems worth more) and you get more stars. Stars, in turn, open new sets of levels so you’re going to want to get as many as you can.
While Boulder Dash itself is easily digestible, the level editor is a different story. In fact, putting together new levels gives one a new level of respect for the game’s developers. Creating a level that is fun, looks good, and hits the right difficulty is not easy. As with all things, one gets better over time, but to truly master level creation takes far longer than it does to master level completion.
Boulder Dash – 30th Anniversary isn’t exactly going to set the gaming world on fire. It is an incremental change to a franchise that has been around for decades. However, there is a reason the game has been around for decades and keeps getting updated – the game mechanics remain as fun as they ever were, and it is a joy to play it once more on a large screen.
Boulder Dash – 30th Anniversary is not rated by the ESRB