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Boulderdash - The Atari Times


A Classic Gem
by Lawrence Armstrong

November 6, 2006
Boulderdash is a classic game loved by many--especially on the Atari 800. Most people consider this to be the best version of all. High replay value and lots of adventure make this game a favorite to this day. Featuring crisp, colorful graphics and nice atmospheric sound, Boulderdash is a joy to play. It will remind most players of Gauntlet or Dig Dug. Especially when they get crushed by a falling rock!

Colorful, high resolution graphics give the game an above average appearance on the 800. Detailed boulders and flashing gems are scattered over the playfield. The player character is detailed and animated. He blinks his eyes and taps his foot and makes gestures with his arms if the player doesn't move the controller as if the character is getting impatient. Featuring a wide variety of levels with varying numbers of gems and boulders, you will have hours of fun exploring this adventure game.

Sound is rich and has an ambient quality. Various sounds can be heard in the background as you start the game and wander around the large mazes. Boulders crash down around you as you dig through the dirt and collect the flashing diamonds. The music playing on the title screen is pretty good too.

Gameplay is fun and with many different levels the game never gets old. You have to be very mindful of the physics of the game as you dig the dirt from under and around the boulders. It is easy to get crushed when you dig dirt from beside a stack of boulders only to have the top boulder slide off to the side and bring the whole pile of rocks rolling down on you. It is pretty funny too, as the rocks blow up and disintegrate your character. You don't have forever to pick up the gems and go to the exit to get to the next level either -- there is a timer at the top of the screen. This game may remind many of Dig Dug because of the way rocks can drop when you dig the dirt out from under them. But the game even more closely resembles Gauntlet. Gathering treasure and getting to the exit is the primary goal. The levels also have a wide variety of layouts like Gauntlet. The game is not as intense as Gauntletbecause there aren't hordes of monsters chasing you, though. You only need to worry about the falling boulders and any flashing squares you see. Never dig one of these up, or it will chase you down and destroy you.

Control in the game is excellent. The joystick is very responsive and you can move quickly enough to get out of the way of falling rocks. Individual rocks can be pushed to move them out of the way if necessary. But you cannot push a pile of boulders and it is possible to get trapped in between rocks if you are at the wrong place when a pile of rocks collapses around you. Think of it as sort of a stalemate in chess. It is not a fun thing in either case.

First Star Software really scored a hit with Boulderdash. The game has everlasting appeal and endless replay value. If you have an Atari 800 or compatible, I highly suggest adding this game to your library. It will bring hours of fun to any game player of any age.

Oh, I get it. Ha ha ha ha. :-/
Argh... Dumb rocks will kill you quick. And they come outta nowhere!
The levels sometimes get segmented off!
System: 8-Bit
Publisher: First Star Software
Genre: Adventure
Graphics Score: 95%
Sound & Music Score: 90%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 95%

Final Score: 95%

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