Thanks to BBG for the review code
Title: Boulder Dash Deluxe
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 09/09/2021
In this new installment in the Boulder Dash franchise, you take control of Rockford, yet again setting out on another quest to collect beautiful diamonds in an assortment of caves! Like before, there’s not much of a plot here, but the game does feel like a natural followup to 30th Anniversary from a few years back.
Following a similar formula to Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary, a lot of assets from that game’s presentation (and respective Switch Port) carry over to Deluxe, though a few things have also changed, some for the worse in my opinion.
The biggest downgrade comes from the character designs, which go from the cute designs seen in 30th, to rather unsettling and generic ones that just don’t seem to fit the levels at all. You do get the option to customize your rockford in a variety of colors, which is neat, but even that doesn’t stop you from looking incredibly weird.
Thankfully, you can play as a voxel recreation of the C64 Rockford, and which it does clash a bit with the weird enemy designs, it fits the feel of Boulder Dash far better, especially taking into account the special world consisting of new stages in the style of the C64 games. Combine that with the C64 levels getting their own world (With a unique camera perspective accompanying it!), and thankfully Deluxe does offer a suitable alternative that at least shows that the developers were willing to give choice. Personally, I still find Boulder Dash XL to be the best the series has looked in a “modern” style, and wouldn’t mind seeing that used again the next time they take a crack at new worlds.
If you remember my old review for Boulder Dash 30th, then you pretty much know exactly what to expect here, as the entire game controls and plays the same as ever, which is a good thing! You have to collect a certain amount of gems to open the exit in each stage, with the more points you get determining the star ranking you obtain. With only the ability to move (unless you use powerups), it’s a simplistic yet addicting puzzler, with you having to take physics, enemy placement, layouts, and optimal routes into consideration, all leading to a blend that is still as enjoyable as any other version of the game.
Thus, there really isn’t much else to note here, since it’s just Boulder Dash: outside of the awkward presentation, you have a good set of new worlds to go through and enjoy, along with the two retro-inspired ones unlocked from the beginning, and there’s more than enough content to keep you busy, from multiple characters to unlock with their own attributes, along with 3-staring every stage. Considering how the new C64 inspired world will push your brain to the limits, that is not an easy feat, so if you’re a fan of this series already then you know exactly what to expect, and newcomers will be able to enjoy the pick up and play nature to jump right into this franchise for the first time.
With that said, there is a pretty odd elephant in the room, and that comes in the form of the powerup system. You have a limited amount of powerup items that can be used with the four face buttons, and they’re able to help you out in a pinch by blowing up irritating obstacles or dealing with hazards in other ways. Every stage is fully completable without them, but the method in obtaining more is completely bizarre, for you have to go to an in-game shop and exchange gold bars (gained for skillful play in the levels) to obtain them, the currency not unlike a traditional mobile game.
There’s no microtransactions thankfully, but it is a pretty bizzare design choice to see here in this console port, especially since the amount of gold bars to unlock characters and whatnot are rather high, so they’ll take you a good while. Thankfully, it doesn’t impact the design of the actual levels, but you do get a pop-up asking you to continue by using one of these gold bars upon death, which can become incredibly annoying and I couldn’t seem to find a toggle to disable it.
In conclusion, Boulder Dash Deluxe is a fun romp with plenty of puzzling stages to enjoy, but it does feel pretty similar to the last few games, to the point it feels like an odd level pack. Considering it also lacks the level editor from the predecessor, you’re basically just getting pure Boulder Dash action here, which is perfectly fine and still enjoyable! Alas, the weird presentation and mobile-esque design choices do lead to some irritations, but if you can get past that oddity, you end up with a perfectly fine version of Boulder Dash with a great new world from the original creator, one that I argue is worth the price of admission alone.
I give Boulder Dash Deluxe a 6 out of 10.