Hands on with Boulder Dash - Rocks! DS

The latest rock-hard puzzler

Hands on with Boulder Dash - Rocks! DS
| Boulder Dash - Rocks!

Many of us at Pocket Gamer are old enough fossils to remember the original Boulder Dash, a puzzle game of block-moving and tunnel digging. So we've been suitably excited about getting our hands on the brand new 10tacle Studios release, Boulder Dash – Rocks!, which brings the idea right up to date and throws in a few extras along the way.

You take control of Rocky, a little blue chap who's looking to impress the lovely Crystal by finding her some gems. Unfortunately the local chain of Argos must be closed, because Rocky's ended up scouring the depths of four dangerous planets to find the biggest gems he can carry back to his special someone. That's good news for you though, because controlling Rocky on his quest turns out to be much more fun than standing in line at the Elizabeth Duke counter.

The version we've played is looking good: the graphics are bright and friendly, and the controls are very simple indeed. Rocky moves around the 2D levels, which are a mixture of hard, unmovable surfaces, and softer stuff that he can dig through. Digging usually allows the game's items and enemies to start moving around a bit more freely, exposing the gems you need to collect, as well as releasing boulders and blocking off entrances.

The boulder-moving mechanic is what really drives the game. Rocky can push boulders into empty spaces but he can't pull them or push them up without the help of his chargeable ray gun, which isn't always available. Falling boulders will hurt anything they hit, including Rocky, which means you have to be careful where you dig and what you push, as cascading boulders can stop you from exiting a level, or release some of the game's many enemies into the fray.

It's not all about block-moving, though. There are some fun boss battles at the end of each planet which mix the formula up a bit, as well as a Route Race mode and some limited multiplayer options. Route Race sees you using the DS' stylus to map out a route for Rocky through a level. This means you have to plan exactly where things will move and fall in advance, which proves very challenging.

If there are concerns, it's to do with the graphics which we're a little worried may be too busy. Some planets, for instance, have impassable terrain that looks oddly like the very stuff that kills you – and the time limit that chases after you on some levels is extremely punishing. But we're confident it won't stop Boulder Dash Rocks! from being a stone-cold success when we get our hands on the final release this December.

Mike Cook
Mike Cook
Studying Computing in London means that Michael looks for any excuse to get away from error messages and blank screens. Puzzling and platforming on the DS are his ultimate escape.