From Dig-Dug to Minecraft, it’s been clear from pretty much the beginning that mining has a permanent place in gaming’s heart. Boulder Dash-XL takes a decidedly old-school route getting there, with plenty of puzzles, bad guys, and robots being crushed to death by boulders along the way. It’s not a perfect puzzler by any means, nor is it likely to hold your interest for too incredibly long. Is it a good game, though? Absolutely. There’s no denying that. After my last review, I was just glad to pay a little up front not to have premium content or cooldowns galore shoved down my throat.
Push Them Rocks
As one of Boulder Dash-XL’s two diamond-grabbin’ robots, you’ll spend much of your game time doing just that: collecting hundreds of diamonds across the game’s multiple levels and modes. There’s a little something for everyone here. Puzzle mode, for instance, has you solving tons of environmental puzzles to grab all the diamonds you can before the time limit expires, while arcade mode is less about technique and more about furious gem-nabbing. True to the old-school angle dev/publisher HeroCraft pushes from download screen, there’s even a retro mode with 8-bit graphics and increased difficulty levels.
The game is easy to control, but the gameplay itself — which apparently requires a 32-page in-game manual to fully grasp — can be a little confusing for those who like to jump in with little instruction. I didn’t know my mining robots had telescopic arms until a friendly load screen clued me into the fact, for instance; I can’t say it’s fully the game’s fault, since I could have gotten off my proverbial keyster and looked for myself, but I also felt like something so crucial bore mentioning a little earlier on. Don’t cry old-school either. Lots of games make things perfectly challenging and manage to pack in a tutorial level at the same time. Going back to the old days is great. Keeping the worst traits of old games, on the other hand, is not.
Turn Down The Volume
I don’t have any complaints about the game’s visuals. The robots are sufficiently charming without being annoying, and the backgrounds all look sharp enough. As far as the sound goes… yeah. The overly-cute, repetitive music, shrill sound effects, and godawful you-wom-the-level music enough were almost enough to get me searching for the earplugs. Why not just mute the game? That wouldn’t be dramatic enough, of course.
This is a good puzzle game at a good price. You’ll undoubtedly get your buck out of it. Just turn the music down if you’re not a masochist: I can’t get the theme music out of my head and I promise you I don’t want it there. No sane person would.