Developer: HeroCraft Ltd
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

I was pretty young when the original Boulder Dash came out, and it wasn’t really the kind of game that interested me back then, anyway. So no rose-tinted nostalgia goggles for me. But that really doesn’t matter. Even without fuzzy childhood memories of deftly avoiding cave-ins and scooping up gems I’ve been having quite a good time with Boulder Dash-XL.

Much like the original Atari, NES, Commodore 64, and virtually every other home console version that was released in the early 80s, Boulder Dash -XL is about carefully digging through dirt and other sediments in order to gather diamonds while simultaneously trying to not get crushed by boulders or trapped by cave-ins. All while on a time limit. Players guide the new robotic Rockford (or his new playable robotic friend) around each level using either a virtual stick or digital directional buttons, and simply have to move into a diamond or square of dirt to collect it or dig through it, respectively. They need to be careful, however, as once any of the many boulders spread throughout the level lose their support (i.e. dirt, other boulders, or Rockford) they’ll start to fall. And falling boulders can lead to getting trapped or crushed pretty quickly.

A number of small (and a few big) enhancements make Boulder Dash-XL a much more friendly action/puzzle game than it used to be. The vibrant and varied colors in each level’s theme help to keep everything visually distinct, which makes snap-decisions easier. Diamonds no longer present a falling hazard similar to boulders. And, of course, there are lots and lots of game modes (Arcade, Score Attack, Puzzle, Retro, and Zen) to keep players both old and new occupied. Even a Retro Mode that changes the rules back to their original unforgiving state and dresses down the visuals into a pseudo retro look.

About the only fault I can find with Boulder Dash-XL are the controls. And not even the default virtual stick controls but the digital pad ones. They “work” just fine but the horizontal and vertical directions are split between the left and right sides of the screen creating an odd disconnect that just doesn’t feel right when in use.

Provided someone doesn’t have anything against block pushing (of a sort) puzzles, robots, diamonds, or dirt, there’s bound to be something nestled within one of Boulder Dash-XL’s multiple game modes to make them happy. I’m personally a fan of the Arcade and Puzzle modes. It’s a great port/adaptation of a classic and is bound to please long time fans and newcomers alike. Now how about another Elevator Action for iOS? Eh? Eh?


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