Title : Boulder Dash
Publisher : JVC
Genre : Arcade Puzzle / Strategy
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1990
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $7-$10
A long, long time ago, there was a little game called Boulder Dash. A relentless puzzle game, that was just as frustrating as it was challenging. Sometimes, it was even a tad entertaining. You play as Rockford, treasure hunter extraordinaire, and a man with a name that drives women wild!
When I was first looking through my list of games, I thought to myself oh this must be a video game version of the table top game BALDERDASH. Now that game was insanely fun. Making up definitions of words has such a high entertainment value it drove me, my family and my friends into fits of hysteria. I still even have some of those cards saved. I digress, this game has nothing to do with that.
This game involves a whole lot of digging in dirt until you come upon some treasure. All the while you have to avoid the monstrosities that awaken in the deep when you disturb their eternal slumber. Vile spiders, and vicious bats aim to kill you for stealing their priceless jewels. At least that makes for a more interesting story. But pretty much all you're doing in this game is trying NOT to die from falling boulders. Which there are a lot of.
Boulder Dash has been around the block, and by that I mean it's been on a slew of consoles since the mid 80's. The question is, how does it hold up on the NES for a 1990 release? Does it entertain? Or should this thing be buried along with all the treasure this game has to offer?
You start each level off by digging your way into the depths of the earths with the intent on collecting the required amount of treasure before finding the exit. It sounds simple enough, but there are obstacles that interfere with your gold lust. You'll need to determine how to dig, and where to dig if you want avoid getting yourself killed.
And it isn't always easy. In fact, it gets to be downright annoying. Boulders fall, boulders roll, boulders seem to jump up and attack you as if they were alive. The game IS called Boulder Dash after all, and boulders are pretty much your main threat. As the game goes on though, Boulders are replaced by frozen Woolly Mammoths, frozen Easter Island statue heads, and skulls. Ooo scary.
For the first few levels, it's pretty straight forward. Grab the treasure, and get out before the time limit is depleted. Then things get a BIT crazy. But crazy in away where your mind just get's BLOWN.
That's how it starts. Simply collecting treasure...with "oo's" and "aah's" . But then there's the running..and the screaming (shout out to JP:LW). After a few levels, the puzzles become crazy, and the amount of monsters trying to destroy you practically quadruples. You're also tasked with defeating some monsters in order to get past certain areas. Like killing little critters trapped in the rocks. Why? I don't know. Because they deserve to die I suppose.
What you have to do, is either avoid the monsters which ends up being a tad risky considering they can chase you until the end of time and move at twice the speed that you do. OR, you can set it up so that a boulder falls on them and kills them. I wish you could just use your damn drill, but it's not that easy.
This is where the game turns into a combination of ADVENTURES OF LOLO and BOMBERMAN. You still need to complete your task of collecting treasures, but you also have to contend with the seemingly endless onslaught of critters. For me, this is where the game gets chaotically entertaining.
As the game progresses, it's pace increases. You are rushing around like a mad man for the most part, with very little time to figure out how to dig around boulders in order to get treasure and defeat monsters. You either a) have monsters chasing you b) are running out of time, c) boulders are falling everywhere and rolling into you d) you cant see the game through tears of frustration.
Ironically enough, the frustration is fun. The game provides a legitimate challenge, and I thought this would be something that would just irritate the hell out of me, but I genuinely enjoyed it. The puzzle aspect is well done, and while the game does get repetitive the growing challenge keeps you wanting to come back to see just how far you can get with this game.
I for one, cant' beat it. Some of the later levels are beyond impossible. I always find myself trapped between a rock and a hard place. HA! GET IT!? At least the levels are designed in a way that you don't get bored visually. They change it up between a few different settings such as desert, ice, woodlands, etc. Goal is the same, graphics are different.
Even the music is upbeat and entertaining. You'll find yourself bobbing your head as you dig through those tunnels. I'm not even kidding. The music is great.
If you enjoy puzzle games, with a huge deal of challenge, this is one hidden NES gem you may want to check out. Many people don't like it the way I do, but I have to say it's well worth the play through and extremely overrated. In my eyes, it's one of the most challenging, and well designed puzzle games on the NES.
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time. Keep on gaming!