First Star Software recently released their second Boulder Dash title for the iPhone. This time, they’ve taken the 2007 Nintendo DS version of Boulder Dash Rocks and brought it to the iPhone. Whereas the original Boulder Dash [$4.99] had to live up to 20 year old memories of the original, Boulder Dash Rocks [$4.99] brings a revamped version of the game that may be targeted more to newcomers than veterans of the franchise.
Boulder Dash Rocks is still an action puzzler in which you play the earth digging Rockford who must collect a quota of diamonds to pass each level. Unlike the original game which relied on fast-paced joystick responses, Boulder Dash Rocks seems to be a much more forgiving game. As you dig under rocks, you have a very comfortable amount of time before the rocks come crushing down. Even so, death doesn’t come that abruptly. Instead, you have a certain amount of health that must be depleted before you must start over.
The game also adds a number of additional power-up tools and traps in the levels (such as lasers, tractor beams, one way doors), again focusing on puzzle gaming than on reaction gaming. The level designs also feel a lot more maze-like than the more open designs of the original.
The game contains 84 different levels across 4 different worlds as well as 20 different time trial levels where speed is the factor. The world designs carry different themes such as Jungle, Lava, Water and Netherworld and unfortunately feel like they are different for the sake of being different. While you can get used to them, the brightly colored artwork make it hard to discern what areas are digable vs not digable which can cause for some early frustration.
Each level is also rather strictly timed. While the time has always been at least some factor in Boulder Dash, the speed at which you must complete these levels constantly make you feel rushed, and will typically require multiple attempts to complete with the allotted time.
The game’s controls, however, are surprisingly strong with both virtual d-pad as well as swipe controls. As you can see in the video, Swipe controls worked very well and offers the ability to play single handedly. The game also seemlessly switches from landscape to portrait mode when you tilt your device.
Initially, I was quite enthusiastic about Boulder Dash Rocks with its good controls, large amount of content and interesting game elements. However, some of the later level artwork and timed gameplay elements have since tempered my enthusiasm. In many ways, Boulder Dash Rocks is still a rather solid overall title but in the end may appeal mostly to puzzle gamers who don’t mind constantly playing against the clock, and can look past the distracting artwork.
App Store Link: Boulder Dash Rocks, $4.99