Android App Video Review: Boulder Dash - The Collection

by Andrew Koziara

Boulder Dash is a series that any old school gamer should be familiar with. The game has sold millions of copies across its various iterations and re-releases over the years, and it's a part of gaming history. First Star Software has brought that history to modern android devices with Boulder Dash - The Collection, featuring the classic game play many gamers know and love.

The first game that you'll play is Boulder Dash M.E. Volume II, starting off with 30 caves, a.k.a. levels, and three difficulties. You learn the ropes as you deal with all the classic enemies and mechanics, along with some newer ones. The goal of each level is collecting enough diamonds to unlock the door to the next level. Although the game seems like a top down game, there is gravity pulling various objects towards the bottom of the screen. Each puzzle involves digging around, avoiding enemies and hazards, collecting power ups, and setting up chain reactions to get to your diamonds.

The retro controls work nicely after the touch screen conversion. Everything is tile based, taking up a single space. You access the pause menu to use your abilities and items. You have the ability to grab items or to kick them without moving your character, and you can pick up things like bombs, hammers, and a screen rotation ability that shifts the gravity around. Various kinds of creepy-crawlies patrol the levels. Destroying bombs or enemies will cause a nine tile wide explosion,  meaning you should proceed with caution. If any item falls on you from even one tile up, including the collectible diamonds, you'll die. You can play in Classic or Zen mode, the latter of which takes away the clock and allows you to take your time. The game really requires you to think about your next move before you make it, and it can be quite difficult at times.

Unfortunately, you only get one of the games, being M.E. Volume II, with your initial purchase. The other games must be purchased in-app for a dollar each, which is balderdash if you ask me. New levels and the new games will be consistently released through updates, working backwards through M.E. Volume I, Construction Kit, Boulder Dash Volume 2, and eventually the original 1984 classic. The retro graphics of M.E. are pretty good, though I'd much prefer to see the 80's style graphics. It's a real shame that you aren't actually buying the collection with your initial purchase, which is four dollars. Adding on all of the in-app purchase games, and you end up paying a pretty hefty sum as far as most Android apps go.

Personally, I feel that if you buy a "collection" of games, all the games should be available to you after that initial purchase, even if they are released through updates. Either way, the game supports OpenFeint leaderboards and achievements, has a pretty solid amount of content, and brings a classic game back as a mobile experience. If you aren't a fan of retro games or the difficulty associated with them, you should probably stay away, but otherwise feel free to give this historical series a shot.

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