Boulder Dash

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Boulder Dash
Boulder Dash Original Cover Art.jpg
Developer(s)Data East (NES, 1990 arcade)
Beam Software (Game Boy)
Designer(s)Peter Liepa
Chris Gray
Shingo Mitsui (hardware 1990)
Programmer(s)Kazunori Ishiguri, Toshiyuki Sakai, Hisatada Ohta (1990 arcade)
Artist(s)Miss Yamaguchi, Yukie Shiraiwa, Manabu Yokoi (1990 arcade)
Composer(s)Azusa Hara, Fuse (1990 arcade)
Platform(s)Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Android, Apple II, Arcade, Atari 8-bit, Atari 2600, BBC Micro, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, IBM PC, Intellivision, iOS, Mac OS, MSX, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, NES, PMD 85, ZX Spectrum[2]
March 1984
  • Atari 8-bit
    Commodore 64
    Apple II
    Amstrad, MSX
    BBC, Electron
    NES, Game Boy
    Atari 2600

Boulder Dash is a 2D maze-puzzle video game released in 1984 by First Star Software for Atari 8-bit computers.[4] It was created by Canadian developers Peter Liepa and Chris Gray. The player controls Rockford, who collects treasures while evading hazards.[5]

Boulder Dash was ported to many 8-bit and 16-bit systems and turned into a coin-operated arcade game. It was followed by multiple sequels and re-releases and influenced games such as Repton and direct clones such as Emerald Mine.

As of January 1, 2018, BBG Entertainment GmbH owns the intellectual property rights to Boulder Dash.[citation needed]


Rockford drops a series of boulders on butterflies which explode into diamonds and fall down the shafts.

Boulder Dash takes place in a series of caves, each of which is laid out as rectangular grid of blocks. The player guides the player character, Rockford, with a joystick or cursor keys. In each cave, Rockford has to collect as many diamonds as are needed and avoid dangers, such as falling rocks. When enough diamonds have been collected, the exit door opens, and going through this exit door completes the cave.


As an aspiring game-developer, Peter Liepa reached out to a local publisher called "In-Home Software". They put him in touch with a young man (Chris Gray) who had submitted a game in Basic, that was not really commercial quality, but they thought it had potential.[6] The project began with the intention of converting this game to machine language and releasing it through In-Home Software, but according to Liepa, it quickly became apparent that the game was very primitive.[7] He decided to expand the idea and bring some more interesting dynamics to the game. He started coding a new project in Forth,[8] which took about six months.[9] About the time it became clear that this was a shippable product, Liepa migrated Boulder Dash from Forth to assembler.[10]

Being dissatisfied with the lack of contact from In-Home Software, Liepa began searching for a new publisher.[11] His choice was First Star Software and according to him the company was very happy to publish the game.[12]


A port of the original title was licensed by Exidy for use with their Max-A-Flex arcade cabinet. This version released in 1984 allowed buying 30 seconds of game time.[13] This was the first home computer title to be converted to an arcade console.[13]


II Computing said that "Bright, colorful animation coupled with a breezy story line make this game more than just a momentary diversion."[21] Computer Games magazine called it an "incredible addicting maze game along the lines of Dig Dug, but faster and more exciting."[3]

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] The same publication reviewed the NES version favourably, stating that it was "an extremely impressive title" and "one of the greatest games ever written". It was given a 92% rating.[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]

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."[25]

Boulder Dash was included in the top 30 Commodore 64 games by c’t Magazin in Germany.[26]

The game sold more than 500,000 copies by August 1994.[27]


Following the original home computer title, other games in the series were published by First Star Software.

  • 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.[13]
  • Boulder Dash II (1985) – published under several different titles; Rockford's Riot on the MSX, Rockford's Revenge on the C64. The second release in Japan was titled Champion Boulder Dash,[13] but it is not a port of the western game.[28]
  • Boulder Dash 3 (1986 – Apple II, C64, Spectrum, PC) – monochrome space-themed graphics and poorly designed levels made this a critical failure.[13]
  • 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),[29] but was titled Boulder Dash IV – The Game for the Spectrum re-release.[13] 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.[30]
  • Rockford (1988 – Arcade, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Arcade, Spectrum,[31] Amstrad, C64)[13] - 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)[13]
  • Boulder Dash (1990 - Game Boy)[13]
  • Boulder Dash (1990 - NES)[13]
  • 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.[13]
  • Boulder Dash Xmas 2002 Edition (2002 – PC)[13]
  • GemJam Gold (2003 – PC) – the game's credits claim this is based on Boulder Dash, and is licensed by First Star.[13]
  • Boulder Dash – Treasure Pleasure (2003 – PC)[13]
  • Boulder Dash: Rocks! (2007 – DS, iOS)[13]
  • Boulder Dash Vol 1 (2009 – iOS)[13]
  • Boulder Dash-XL (2011 - Xbox Live Arcade, PC)[32]
  • Boulder Dash - The Collection! (2011 – Android)[33]
  • Boulder Dash (2011 – Atari 2600) - limited edition of 250 copies.[34]
  • 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.[35]
  • Boulder Dash (2015 – Intellivision) – Co-published by First Star Software, Inc. and Classic Game Publishers, Inc./Elektronite[36]
  • Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary (2016 – iOS, Android, Switch, Steam (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.
  • Boulder Dash Deluxe (2021 – Switch, Xbox, Atari VCS, Steam (PC and Mac), Windows Store and Mac Store) – developed and published by BBG Entertainment with a world designed by the original creator Peter Liepa and a Retro world with the 20 original levels from 1984.[37][38]


  1. ^ a b c "Year-End Index" (PDF). Computer Entertainer. Vol. 3, no. 10. January 1985. p. 156.
  2. ^ "Boulder Dash". First Star Software.
  3. ^ a b c "1985 Software Buyer's Guide". Computer Games. Vol. 3, no. 5. United States: Carnegie Publications. February 1985. pp. 11–8, 51–8.
  4. ^ "Interview with author Peter Liepa". Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  5. ^ "Boulder Dash". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved October 6, 2013.
  6. ^ Liepa, 7:05.
  7. ^ Liepa, 7:48.
  8. ^ Liepa, 5:09.
  9. ^ Liepa, 10:28.
  10. ^ Liepa, 5:15.
  11. ^ Liepa, 12:37.
  12. ^ Liepa, 14:00.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  15. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  16. ^ "Complete Games Guide" (PDF). Computer and Video Games (Complete Guide to Consoles): 46–77. 16 October 1989.
  17. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Boulderdash". Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  19. ^ "Zzap!64 100th Issue Pull-Out Special Page 5". Zzap!64. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  20. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  21. ^ Shapiro, Neil (Oct–Nov 1985). "Of Jewels and Ghouls and Butterflies and Strategies of War". II Computing. pp. 24–26. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  22. ^ Rignall, Julian; Richard Leadbetter (June 1991). "Boulderdash review". Mean Machines (9). Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2009.
  23. ^ "Boulderdash - Nintendo Entertainment System - Mean Machines review". Archived from the original on 2007-10-27.
  24. ^ Campbell, Stuart (January 1992). "The YS Top 100 Speccy Games Of All Time (Ever) - Number 24 to 2". Your Sinclair. No. 73. Future Publishing. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  25. ^ "Boulder Dash Review". 23 June 2009.
  26. ^ "C't-Auswahl: Die 30 besten Spiele für den Commodore 64".
  27. ^ "Video game industry set to out-glitz Hollywood". Edmonton Journal. August 25, 1994. p. 56. Retrieved August 24, 2021 – via
  28. ^ "Oh! FM-7 Museum". Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  29. ^ Boulder Dash Construction Kit manual page 6
  30. ^ "Super Boulder Dash Manual" (PDF). Electronic Arts. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  31. ^ "Rockford". World of Spectrum. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  32. ^ "Boulder Dash XL Announced". Bluesnews. November 9, 2010.
  33. ^ "Boulder Dash - The Collection for Android Announced".
  34. ^ "First Star Software's Boulder Dash Is Heading To The Atari 2600 | RetroCollect". Archived from the original on 2013-12-14.
  35. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (January 21, 2014). "Original Boulder Dash Creators Team-Up For Mobile Remake". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  36. ^ "Boulder Dash Officially Released for Intellivision 30 Years Later | RetroCollect". Archived from the original on 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  37. ^ "Boulder Dash Deluxe Launches First on Atari VCS | BBG-Entertainment".
  38. ^ "Boulder Dash Deluxe launches September 9 for Xbox One, Switch, and PC". 12 August 2021.


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