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Posted January 23, 2014 by Peter in Announcements
 
 

Boulder Dash revisited for 30th anniversary

Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary logo
Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary logo

If you wanted a sure test of a gamer’s age, you wouldn’t need to cut them in half to count rings (mercifully – although at least at 100 you’d be guaranteed an extra life). Instead, try naming key games from certain years in reverse chronological order until the misty eyed nostalgia changes from “intense” to “I don’t remember that one”. But one game that will be remembered by many is Boulder Dash, a classic puzzle game and one that will be making many gamers feel that bit older when it releases it’s 30th anniversary edition later this year.

Originally released by First Star Software, since 1984 Boulder Dash has appeared on so many systems that it’s almost easier to name the ones it has not been on (it’s even considered to be the first ever home computer game release then converted to arcades, as opposed to the more common other way around).
Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary screen
Controlling treasure hunter Rockford, you have to move through dirt, not get crushed by dislodged boulders, avoid monsters, and collect enough diamonds to unlock the level exits, which sounds simple in a way that you know it won’t be. It is a classic, and one that has an underlying set of mechanics that shouldn’t date badly at all, making the remake welcome.

Mostly.

TapStar Interactive, co-founded by one of Boulder Dash‘s original creators Chris Gray, have announced the welcome news that he has collaborated with Peter Liepa – the other key name of the original – to develop some all-new levels, as well as including a level construction kit.
Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary screen
There is also mention of new mechanics – diagonal movement is now allowed, there are collectable gem power ups and special moves, and “more advanced physics”. The part of me that played and loved the original – yes, I feel really old – reads this and worries that the lily may not be so much gilded as lost to gaudy decoration… although there is the hope that with the original developers present a whole new way of playing can be opened up that feels like a genuine progression.

The game (or at least, the iOS and Android version) will also be a freemium title, with “new worlds, additional creatures and features available as In-App-Purchases”. Hopefully this means something closer to a free trial with the bulk of the content then bought, rather than the whole game ending up an exercise in buying regular extras.

So, the excitement at revisiting a classic is slightly offset by worries that the game will not be the classic remembered, offset again by the hope that it may offer something new, and offset once more by the fear of that new content indirectly costing more than a usual game. But this is a matter of “time will tell” – we have waited 30 years to get to this point after all.

Boulder Dash: 30th Anniversary Edition will be released in early 2014 for iOS and Android, with version for PC, Mac and “select gaming consoles and handhelds” to follow.


Peter

 
Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.