Boulder Dash

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Boulder Dash
Boulder Dash NES.jpg
NES box art
Developer(s)Peter Liepa, Chris Gray
Publisher(s)First Star Software
Designer(s)Peter Liepa, Chris Gray
Platform(s)Atari 8-bit (original)
Arcade, Apple II, MSX, ZX Spectrum, C64, ColecoVision, NES, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, PC, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, iOS, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Mac, Xbox 360, Atari ST, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Android, PMD 85

Boulder Dash, is a video game released in 1984 by First Star Software for Atari 8-bit computers.[1] There have been numerous versions and sequels in this series for numerous interactive platforms including: Apple II, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, ColecoVision, NES, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, PC, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Intellivision, Mac, Xbox 360 and many other platforms. It also influenced other games in the rocks-and-diamonds genre such as Repton. The original Boulder Dash was created by Canadian developers Peter Liepa and Chris Gray, and on October 28, 1983, acquired by First Star Software, which still owns the rights to the game and the intellectual property, including the registered trademark: "Boulder Dash".[2]

The game's protagonist is called "Rockford".[3] He must dig through caves collecting gems and diamonds and reach the exit within a time limit, while avoiding various types of dangerous creatures as well as obstacles like falling rocks and the constant danger of being crushed or trapped by an avalanche, or killed by an underground explosion.

On January 21, 2014, First Star Software and TapStar Interactive announced Boulder Dash - 30th Anniversary, a freemium mobile title developed by First Star Software, TapStar and SoMa Play Inc. for Android and iOS. The PC and Mac versions of Boulder Dash - 30th Anniversary were listed on Steam's GreenLight June 24, 2016,[4] and released on September 14, 2016 on Steam.[5] The PC and Mac versions include a cave (level) editor which allows players to create, play and share levels on Steam's Workshop.

As of January 1, 2018 the First Star Software name and website are owned by BBG Entertainment GmbH which also purchased all intellectual property rights pertaining to Astro Chase, BOiNG!, Boulder Dash, Bristles, Flip & Flop, Millemium Warriors, Omnicron Conspiracy, Panic Button, Rent Wars and Security Alert.

Rockford, left, drops a series of boulders on a series of butterflies. The butterflies explode into diamonds, which fall down the shafts. Commodore 64 version.


Sequels, ports[edit]

The official Boulder Dash games started in 1984 with the original home computer title, and continue to be published by First Star Software, Inc.

  • Boulder Dash (1984) – the original Boulder Dash was published on multiple home computer and consoles.
  • Boulder Dash (1984) – a port of the original title licensed by Exidy for use with their Max-A-Flex arcade cabinet. This version was almost identical, but with coins buying 30 seconds of game time.[6] Historically, this was the first home computer title to be converted to an arcade console.[6]
  • Boulder Dash (1985 – Arcade) – in 1985 another arcade version was released on Data East's "DECO Cassette System", with improved graphics but a reduced display grid on a vertical monitor.[6]
  • Boulder Dash II (1985) – the second home format was published under several different titles; Rockford's Riot on the MSX, Rockford's Revenge on the C64 (with the former used with the ZX Spectrum's marketing, but the latter used on the cassette inlay, Reg Wilkins, Allan McInlay, Martin Brown and David Kivlin were on the design team). The second release in Japan was titled Champion Boulder Dash,[6] but it's not a port of the western game.[7]
  • Boulder Dash 3 (1986 – Apple II, C64, Spectrum, PC) – monochrome space-themed graphics and poorly designed levels made this a critical failure.[6]
  • Boulder Dash Construction Kit (1986 – Apple II, C64, Spectrum, Atari 8-bit computers, Atari ST) – this release included a small number of levels (12 caves and 3 intermission levels),[8] but was titled Boulder Dash IV – The Game for the Spectrum re-release.[6] The title allowed players access to tools which allowed them to design their own levels.
  • Super Boulder Dash (1986 – Apple II, C64, PC) – a compilation of Boulder Dash and Boulder Dash II published by Electronic Arts.[9]
  • Rockford (1988 – Arcade, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Arcade, Spectrum,[10] Amstrad, C64)[6] - Rockford was originally a licensed arcade game produced by Arcadia Systems, and later converted to various home computer formats.
  • Boulder Dash Part 2 (1990 – Arcade)[6]
  • Boulder Dash (1990 - Game Boy)[6]
  • Boulder Dash (1990 - NES)[6]
  • Boulder Dash EX (2002 – Game Boy Advance) - this one has a new "EX mode" and "Classic mode" which is a direct port of the 1984 PC version.[6]
  • Boulder Dash Xmas 2002 Edition (2002 – PC)[6]
  • GemJam Gold (2003 – PC) – the game's credits claim this is based on Boulder Dash, and is licensed by First Star.[6]
  • Boulder Dash – Treasure Pleasure (2003 – PC)[6]
  • Boulder Dash: Rocks! (2007 – DS, iOS)[6]
  • Boulder Dash Vol 1 (2009 – iOS)[6]
  • Boulder Dash-XL (2011 - Xbox Live Arcade, PC)[11]
  • Boulder Dash - The Collection! (2011 – Android)[12]
  • Boulder Dash (2011 – Atari 2600) - limited edition of 250 copies.
  • Boulder Dash-XL 3D (2012 - Nintendo 3DS) - 3D port of Boulder Dash-XL.
  • Boulder Dash-XL by HeroCraft (2012-2014 – iOS) - has a retro mode which copies the look of the classic Boulder Dash.
  • Boulder Dash: 30th Anniversary co-published by TapStar Interactive and First Star Software, Inc. with a world designed by the original creator Peter Liepa as well as another world by TapStar CEO, Chris Gray. This sequel was developed in collaboration by TapStar Interactive, First Star Software, SoMa Play Inc. and Katsu Entertainment LLC (2014 - Android, iOS) as both a Premium (paid) and a freemium game.[13]
  • Boulder Dash (2015 – Intellivision) – Programmed by Scott Nudds. Co-published by First Star Software, Inc. and Classic Game Publishers, Inc./Elektronite
  • Boulder Dash: 30th Anniversary (2016 – PC and Mac) – co-published by TapStar Interactive and First Star Software, Inc. with a world designed by the original creator Peter Liepa as well as another world by Chris Gray.


Review scores
Sinclair User5/10[16]
Your Sinclair8/10[17]
Home Computing Weekly5/5[19]
Zzap!64Gold Medal[citation needed]

II Computing wrote of Boulder Dash that "Bright, colorful animation coupled with a breezy story line make this game more than just a momentary diversion."[20]

Compute! favorably reviewed Boulder Dash Construction Kit, noting that the sample game was much more difficult than the original Boulder Dash.[21] Mean Machines gave the Game Boy port of Boulder Dash a score of 90%, praising it as "one of the finest video games ever written", describing the game as "one to buy as soon as possible" and noting its faithfulness to the original Commodore 64 version.[22]

IGN reviewed the Virtual Console release of the Commodore 64 version. Although the graphics and sound were both found to be dated they enjoyed the game stating that it "still feels as fresh as it did in 1984." They concluded by stating "though it doesn't look like much, Boulder Dash rocks."[23]

The ZX Spectrum version was placed ninth in the Your Sinclair Top 100 Speccy Games Of All Time (Ever) by journalist Stuart Campbell[24].

Zzap!64's reviewers gave a mixed response to Boulder Dash III. Gary Penn criticised the new graphics style but conceded that the gameplay was still enjoyable although not showing any real innovations from previous titles. Gary Liddon agreed that the game wasn't much different to its predecessors but remained good fun. Julian Rignall was the most enthusiastic about the game declaring it "the best in the Boulderdash series". Overall the game was given a 93% rating.[25]

The Boulder Dash Construction Kit earned a Zzap! Gold Medal Award.[26]


  1. ^ "Interview with author Peter Liepa". Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-02-09. Retrieved 2004-03-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Boulder Dash". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Campbell, Stuart (2008). "The Definitive Boulder Dash". Retro Gamer (53): 32–41.
  7. ^ "Oh! FM-7 Museum". Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Super Boulder Dash Manual" (PDF). Electronic Arts. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  10. ^ "Rockford". World of Spectrum. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  11. ^ "Boulder Dash XL Announced". Bluesnews. November 9, 2010.
  12. ^ "Boulder Dash - The Collection for Android Announced".
  13. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (January 21, 2014). "Original Boulder Dash Creators Team-Up For Mobile Remake". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  14. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  15. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  16. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  17. ^ "Boulderdash". Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Zzap!64 100th Issue Pull-Out Special Page 5". Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  19. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  20. ^ Shapiro, Neil (Oct–Nov 1985). "Of Jewels and Ghouls and Butterflies and Strategies of War". II Computing. pp. 24–26. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  21. ^ Anderson, Rhett (February 1988). "Boulder Dash". Compute!. p. 53. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  22. ^ Rignall, Julian; Richard Leadbetter (June 1991). "Boulderdash review". Mean Machines (9). Retrieved June 4, 2009.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Campbell, Stuart (January 1992). "The YS Top 100 Speccy Games Of All Time (Ever) - Number 24 to 2". Your Sinclair (73). Future Publishing. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Zzap! Test: Boulder Dash Construction Kit". Zzap!64. Newsfield (20): 176–177. 1986. Retrieved 2016-07-22.

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