The fact that Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary exists as a stand-alone, new title in the long running series is a triumph unto itself. Imagine if Nintendo created a Mario or Zelda title just to specifically celebrate an anniversary. Man, one can wish! Seeing that BBG Entertainment went the extra mile to create a new game, and involve the original creator no less, is some special. Unfortunately, even with the hundreds of stages and many unlockables, there really isn’t any staying power and depth to keep 2020 gamers entertained for long.
Gameplay hasn’t changed much since the original a few decades ago. Playing as a miner, the player needs to navigate underground passages by digging through stone, avoid getting squashed by boulders, and collect gems before finding the exit. Unfortunately, this arcade-style of gameplay is fine for a few levels before boredom inevitably makes an appearance. The hook is to complete each stage with a 3-star rating which is used to unlock the next batch of levels and eventually new playable characters that have different abilities. These extras are a nice touch but the player is still doing the same thing repeatedly and only the most dedicated of players will want to see it all.
The presentation also feels like a budget title as this was originally released on mobile. The mobile presentation, such as the goofy character visuals and art style, also doesn’t feel quite right when using a controller. The loose play control almost becomes a moot point when compared to the audio department. After completing the first world, I thought it was strange that there was no music. It wasn’t until I jacked up the volume on my TV did I realize there actually was audio in this game. Even with the in-game audio sliders maxed in the options menu, it is nearly impossible to hear anything. Don’t be quick to turn up the volume, however, as the sound effects, like the super strange stage-ending scream, is pretty terrible.
It is nice to see a long running game series be celebrated with a new game but winds up being a shame when the package caves in. Even if the visuals and audio issues where fixed, there still is no level editor, no multiplayer, no online leaderboards, and no instant restarts. Without any modern quality of life features, Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary is a product of its time.
Don’t Forget About: Dig Dug Digging Strike (DS)
Also Try: any Mr. Driller title
Not To Be Confused With: Lode Runner