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Boulder Dash XL Review (360)

My first encounter with Boulder Dash was on the Commodore 64. It’s the first game I remember playing a lot of; it was simple yet challenging. Boulder Dash was orginally published in 1984. The original publishers, First Star Software, together with Kalypso Media, now bring us Boulder Dash XL for XBox Live Arcade.

Boulder Dash XL is a puzzle game about collecting diamonds and avoiding boulders. You play as either Rockford or Crystal who have to clear dirt from caves to collect diamonds while avoiding enemies and falling boulders. Each cave has an exit that will unlock after the target number of diamonds have been collected. There is a time limit on each cave so the idea is to find the route which allows you to pick up all the diamonds and reach the exit before the timer reaches zero.

As well as being able to remove dirt by moving through it. Rockford and Crystal can remove dirt from any adjacent square without moving or, if you find a power pack, you can use the telescopic arms to grap objects from several spaces away.

There are 5 game modes to choose from: Arcade, Puzzle, Zen, Score and Retro. Arcade is the main mode with 4 worlds and many caves per world, each one presenting new challenges and monsters while increasing in difficulty. Puzzle does exactly what it says on the tin. These are small caves that take a bit of thought to complete. Zen allows you to go through any caves you have completed previously but without a time limit. This mode is great for perfecting your strategy to get the most points from Arcade Mode. In Score mode you need to score as many points with as much time remaining as possible in large caves.

The final mode is Retro which is a shout-out to the 8-bit classic. The graphics are a bit better than in 1984 but the spirit of the original has been captured in this mode. The levels are difficult and unlike the other modes falling diamonds will kill you just as dead as falling boulders. The exit is also hidden in this mode until the target number of diamonds have been collected.

Boulder Dash XL does a great job of bringing this 80’s classic up to date without adding too many new elements to the gameplay. In my opinion it is well worth the 800 Microsoft points for this little Live Arcade title.

9 head splitting boulders out of 10

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