Boulder Dash: ROCKS! Hands-On

Rockford and friends are back on modern handhelds for a new adventure that builds on the action of the mid-'80s classic.

by

You'd have to be well into adulthood to remember the original Boulder Dash, which debuted on machines like the Commodore 64 in 1984 and then hit US arcades a year later. But whether or not you can recall the first one (or were even alive for its release), you'll soon get to try out a modernized version called Boulder Dash: Rocks! on both the PSP and Nintendo DS. We got a chance to look at the DS version recently to see how the series' hero, Rockford, has made the transition to current hardware.

Rockford is back with some new weapons and a whimsical new look.

The core gameplay here is identical to that of the original Boulder Dash. You'll move Rockford around a series of stages, attempting to capture a minimum number of diamonds in each level to reveal the exit and move on to the next area. You'll have to move quickly to avoid the boulders of the game's title, though, since picking up a gem with a boulder on top of it will cause the rock to fall on you after a brief moment. Sounds easy, sure, but later levels will become much more complicated, with trickier boulder formations and enemies standing between you and the acquisition of gems. As in the previous games, you'll be able to push boulders around creatively to block off or even crush enemies, and the developer has also added a zapper weapon with multiple kinds of ammo that you can pick up in some levels. One weapon type we saw let Rockford use a magnet to pull boulders toward him, even from offscreen.

Rocks! will feature a number of gameplay modes, starting with the primary single-player game, planet tour. This will take you through four visually distinctive worlds, each with 20 levels that become progressively tougher. Each planet has its own theme--jungle, lava, water, and the ghoulish netherworld--to keep things looking interesting. Then there's the route race mode, which will offer 35 of its own levels. This one's a little more strategic, since you won't control Rockford directly with the D pad. Instead, you'll use the stylus to plot out your route through a given level, and then you'll hit the onscreen play button to set him in motion to see if you planned out all of your moves properly to get him to the exit without being crushed. Finally, the game will contain a two-player mode called double bash, although with only one cart on hand, we weren't able to try that out just yet.

From what we played so far, Boulder Dash: Rocks! looks like a solid update to the arcade-style classic, since it adds a few new mechanics that don't get in the way of the core action that defined the original. The game's also gotten a nice visual makeover, with Rockford and friends taking on a delightful, cutesy style that's certainly more appealing than their blocky, pixelated former selves. The game is due out on both the DS and PSP in November, so look for more in the coming weeks.

Discussion

15 comments
illinoissooner
illinoissooner

Looks nice. Can't have too many good puzzle games on the DS. The "route race mode" sounds excellent!

guppieface
guppieface

i played the original on the APPLE II

Lum_Yatsura
Lum_Yatsura

:D Yay! The C64 version was excellent. Good on GBA too. There's also countless PC clones and remakes. Some even both include level editors, and are open-source. A great combination IMHO.

Nickfury101
Nickfury101

Wow I so remember this game. Looks like Im going to have to buy this one and the original for the Nes all over again.

nico230383
nico230383

loved this game on the C64 back in the day, one of my first games i ever played. i hope they don't change the original gameplay too much. gonna give this to my mom as a present when it comes out, she loved that game back in the 80's and now has a DS with only brain training :)

ColdGen
ColdGen

poptart - sadly at 39 - yes it does mean something to me at least :)

andboy80
andboy80

Yes.. played Boulder Dash to death back in the 80s.. but one of the greates game in the series was Boulder Dash Construction kit... See.. that was nice.. sharing your insane levels with your friends... and it was pretty easy to construct levels too.. I think Boulder Dash was one of the first game series that allowed players to make there own levels. If they includes something similar in the DS version and you could then share your levels over WI-FI... then this one would be really great...

Relex_Rahl
Relex_Rahl

wow um... I didnt have the first one... looks a bit like bomberman though

MaGn0lia
MaGn0lia

Boulder Dash in Commodore 64 was the bomb, I can still hear the sound Rockford made when he duck through the sand and the noise the spreading goo made. Good times.

ukguvnor
ukguvnor

I loved boulderdash! I had this game on the C64.. until the tape screwed up and the alpha-numeric characters on screen went funny on me.. but I remember each level being symbolised by a letter of the alphabet. And then there was a newer boulderdash with 2 extra worlds... I hope this game sticks true to the roots.

poptart
poptart

Good little game was boulderdash.... bloody hard some of it mind you. I distinctly remember rockford, the little protagonist being a regular in Zzap 64 back in the day. Alongside thing on a spring, if that means anything to anyone... god that's a long time ago....

juri006
juri006

I've played it on commodore 64 and it was a great game, think this has a good potencial...

kyrieee
kyrieee

this looks nothing like the original :/ I doubt it'll be as fast paced anyway

velvetkloud
velvetkloud

Being the old sod I am, I did have (and still do have) the original boulderdash. It was a great little game. Providing they don't detract from the original gameplay too much it will be spot on for handhelds.

BulletProof007
BulletProof007

I never played the original so I might give this a try.