Boulder Dash - Rocks!

With a pinch of frustration.

Posted on December 19, 2007 at 12:59 pm by Ian Brown

There's been a massive increase in remakes of old gaming icons recently, and Boulder Dash Rocks is one of them. For many people, Boulder Dash means nothing, as this one off game from the early 80s was out before many of the reviewers here were born. But to others, this quirky little title was a welcome remake as the original game was a brute and this game is certainly living up to the Boulder Dash name.

Our protagonist, Rocky, has nothing that one would usually associate with a treasure hunter. There's no hat worn at a jaunty angle, there's no testosterone, and there's certainly no bulging muscles that helps get the smiling blonde at the end of treasure hunting movies. Yet even without the absence of the typical clich├ęs, Rocky does have a girlfriend, and a rather demanding one at that. Rocky has to go and find the biggest gem in the world, and collect as many normal gems along the way as he can.

To achive this he goes underground and has to try and work his way through the many zones and levels to get to the super-sized gem. Boulder Dash Rocks actually feels like many of the older Wario Land games, and will consist of many of the things that some of the older Wario games did as well, such as gathering gems and avoiding enemies.

However, how Boulder Dash Rocks differs from the much-loved Nintendo creation is that the game is more like a puzzle game than a side-scrolling title. To complete any zone in the game Rocky has to be navigated around a world that has enemies and obstacles at every turn, and this has to be done inside of a strict time limit whilst collecting the required number of gems as well!

Although this is easy at first, the game has a very nice learning curve and before long it's become an impassable maze where every time some of the debris is moved away, something lands on little Rocky's head and kills him. With enemies that will stalk the path that's been taken and others that will just take the same path over and over, Rocky's job becomes increasingly hard. With one way trap doors that restrict the path that can be taken and a limited number of routes to take the game becomes very frustrating.

To relieve some of this frustration, 10tacle Studios and EA have introduced a few new additions from the classic Boulder Dash game. These additions are a new little gun for Rocky, although he's managed to forget any ammunition, and there are now some boulders that are actually dynamite -- this will allow new paths to be taken. Fortunately for our hero, there are ammunition blocks scattered around different zones so Rocky's little gun can be used, but only sparingly.

With a rather extensive Story Mode, Boulder Dash Rocks also has two other modes to work our way through as well: Time Trial Mode and Route Race. Time Trial Mode is exactly as it's packaged. Rocky needs to be navigated around any of the completed levels as fast as possible making the fewest errors.

Route Race makes full use of the Nintendo DS stylus and it requires the route to be planned out in advance. After planning out the appropriate routes, Rocky dashes straight through the pre-defined plan, and if it's right, that's great. If not, Rocky will end up running head first into a boulder or enemy and end up dying.

Both modes are a welcome addition as the game could easily be considered a throwback to the old Nintendo days of ultra cute presentation with incredibly squeaky cute music but incredibly frustrating gameplay. Although the game has no real depth aside from a large amount of foresight, the time restraints and the fact that only one route can be taken in certain situations will leave many players pulling their hair out.

The only downside to the game really is that the graphics are a bit blocky. The game is presented very cutely(probably could go with a better adjective here or just phrase it differently), the music is squeaky and can easily trigger memories of early Teletubbies or Sesame Street, and the colours are vibrant, so the characters are cute to look at. Everything looks very much the same; however, the game really isn't meant to be visually stimulating, just challenging - and manages that very easily.

Final Verdict - 7/10

This game would be a great addition to any DS gamer's library. Don't let the cutesy packaging fool you. This game is challenging and would be a great (yet very selfish) gift to a younger brother or sister, as you'd spend more time on it than them. They'd give up owing to the very frustrating nature of the game.