Boulder Dash – XL Review
The original Boulder Dash was released way back in 1984 and was so successful it led to numerous sequels and ports on a variety of platforms. Boulder Dash XL is the latest sequel to this loved game for the Xbox 360 Arcade and brings with it all the original features that made Boulder Dash a hit plus adding a few new ones to add new life into this old classic.
The objective of Boulder Dash XL is simple: play as one of the loveable robots, Rockford or Crystal, fight your way through the dirt, look for diamonds and watch out for any nasty creatures that have it in for you. Oh, and of course watch out for the insane amount of falling boulders that are trying to crush you to death. On the surface, Boulder Dash XL does seem to be a very simple game with no real challenge but once you get around five levels into the Arcade Mode this soon changes. The Arcade Mode features one hundred very different levels in four different environments and rather than get angry every time you get squished by a boulder, you will find yourself becoming strangely addicted to this maze driven beauty. Each level asks you to collect a certain number of diamonds, usually less than there is available to pick up, in a set amount of time before revealing the exit to the next level. This is a leaderboard driven game so, staying to collect all the diamonds, killing as many enemies as possible and still managing to complete the level in the quickest time possible will help you rise up the ranks.
Aside from the main Arcade Mode there are also four other modes available to keep your hunger for diamonds satisfied. Puzzle Mode has twenty five smaller levels that require you to pick up all the diamonds before moving onto the next level. As these levels are super small in comparison to the Arcade Mode, they are a lot harder and every move is crucial to the completion of a level. Zen Mode allows you to replay any of the one hundred stages that are available in the Arcade Mode but without the time restraints so if you are having some issues with a level in Arcade Mode, you can hop on over to Zen Mode to work out exactly how to navigate through the levels and achieve the best score. Score Attack only has four stages but each is pretty large in size and full of diamonds. The objective here is simple: rack up the biggest score possible before hopping on to the exit platform. It’s a shame they only added four stages as this was actually a lot of fun but once you have played the levels a few times there is very little replay value. Lastly, we have the Retro Mode which is twenty five levels devoted to the original Boulder Dash in retro graphics but with a 3D look to make it a little more pleasing on the eyes.
All these stages feature an array of enemies that cause no end of problems, such as little bees that always move next to the walls and every time you remove pieces of dirt or move a boulder, they change their direction which keeps you on your toes, big bugs with a head full of radioactive goo which damages you if you are within a few squares of them and little pesky flies who although move just side to side, can get you trapped very easy. Aside from these enemies and many more that have equally annoying abilities to stop you from collecting your precious diamonds, there are also other challenges our little robots must overcome. Spread across the levels are various doors that are colour coded and require you to find the right key to open them, trapdoors that only let you go through them from a certain direction, sticks of dynamite waiting to be blown up and teleports that throw you from one side of the map to the other. With all these nuisances trying to get between you and your goal, it’s a good thing there are plenty of nice treats laying around for you to pick up such as extra time, health packs and your telescopic arm which allows you to move boulders or dig through dirt without being anywhere near it.
Boulder Dash XL is a very fun simple yet fun game and extremely addictive for those of you who love to keep improving your scores and getting higher and higher on the leaderboards. With a price tag of 800 Microsoft Points, it is definitely worth the cash and will last you a good amount of hours.