Boulder Dash-XL: Blast from the past gaming

Staying true to the original along with a little modern gameplay and flair

Boulder Dash has been around since the early 80's, and a new and improved version has finally made the jump over to Android for everyone to enjoy all over again. Retro game reboots are awesome, and they're even better when done properly -- and Boulder Dash-XL is a great example. It has walked that line of sticking true to the original concept while also making things fresh by bringing good controls over to mobile and adding new graphics, soundtracks and game types.

Ready for a little blast from the past? Stick around with us after the break and see how Boulder Dash-XL pays homage to the original title from the 80's.

Many may not have been alive and gaming when Boulder Dash was in its prime, but that doesn't mean there isn't some bit of nostalgia to be appreciated here. The developer, HeroCraft Ltd, teamed up with the original creators of the game to make something that felt and played very similarly to the original, but with appropriate updates in terms of gameplay and graphics. The result is a great game that feels new but is just building on the proven older game. This is evident right from opening the app, with neon graphics and basic sounds that help transport you back to a time of arcades and early consoles. When you choose your character and jump into the actual game, it adds just a few modern conveniences. Boulder Dash-XL has stepped up the graphics substantially as you would expect, with fluid animations of the blocks, boulders, gems and enemies.

The basic gameplay, if you're not familiar, is to run through a level filled with different objects to collect enough gems to open up an exit and beat the level. The number of gems you collect and how quickly you exit the level determine your score, giving you tough choices to make as you navigate around. A very small portion of the level is displayed on screen around you, and with no mini-map it becomes a mind game to remember where the gems are and what the best way to navigate to the exit is. As you progress through the levels you get new abilities but are also faced with new enemies and difficult obstacles to slow you down. The interface is pretty basic, with a D-pad control on the left for all of your navigation, and action buttons on the right for extra gadgets used throughout the game like your grappling hook. The gameplay is fun and easy to pick up, but will certainly benefit from a little bit of time getting used to the mechanics and advanced strategies.

Boulder Dash-XL goes beyond what is available in the original game with five complete game modes, giving you plenty of options. "Arcade Mode" will give you a standard gameplay, but you also get Score Attack, Puzzle Mode, Retro Mode and Zen Mode to spend additional gameplay time in. In these different modes you'll get to interact with the levels in different ways, such as having no time limit, different level objectives or new levels all together. It's part of the re-imagining of the original Boulder Dash game to give it new life and it's extremely well done.

We think that Boulder Dash-XL has done a great job of making a worth while reboot of a classic game. For the $2.99 price of admission you're getting a great arcade mode that builds nicely on the original game, along with four new game modes to keep you entertained for many hours even if you finish the main levels. It's hard not to recommend Boulder Dash-XL for anyone that appreciates a well-made retro title.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.