Boulder Dash

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This article is about the video game series. For the amusement park ride, see Boulder Dash (roller coaster). For the similarly named board game, see Balderdash.
Boulder Dash
Boulder Dash NES.jpg
NES box art
Developer(s) First Star Software
Designer(s) Peter Liepa, Chris Gray
Platform(s) Arcade (Max-A-Flex), Atari 8-bit computers, Apple II, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, ColecoVision, NES, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, PC, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, iOS, Atari 2600, Intellivision
Release date(s) 1984
Genre(s) Arcade
Mode(s) Single-player

Boulder Dash (バルダーダッシュ Barudā Dasshu?), originally released in 1984 for Atari 8-bit computers,[1] is a series of computer games released for the Apple II, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and ColecoVision home computers, and later ported to the NES, BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, PC, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Intellivision and many other platforms. It was created by Peter Liepa and Chris Gray, and on October 28, 1983, acquired and later published by First Star Software, which still owns the rights to the game. Boulder Dash inherits numerous gameplay features from the earlier 1982 arcade game The Pit, by Japanese developer Taito.

The game's protagonist is called "Rockford".[2] 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.

The Commodore 64 version of the first game was also re-released on the Virtual Console in Europe on September 19, 2008, and in North America on June 1, 2009, but was removed from the service in 2013.

On January 21, 2014, FirstStar Software and TapStar Interactive announced Boulder Dash - 30th Anniversary Edition, a freemium mobile title developed by SoMa Play Inc. for Android and iOS.

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.


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

  • Boulder Dash (1984) – the original Boulder Dash was published on multiple home computer and consoles.
  • Boulder Dash (1984) – it was then released on arcade console is called, Max-a-Flex by Exidy. This version was almost identical, but with coins buying 30 seconds of game time.[3] Historically, this was the first home computer title to be converted to an arcade console.[3]
  • Boulder Dash (1985 – Arcade) – in 1985, Comptiq released another arcade version on Data East's "DECO Cassette System", with improved graphics but a reduced display grid on a vertical monitor.[3]
  • 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, originally the game was going to be called pebbles, Reg Wilkins, Allan McInlay, Martin Brown and David Kivlin were on the design team). The second release in Japan was titled Champion Boulder Dash,[3] but it's not a port of the western game.[4]
  • Boulder Dash 3 (1986 – Apple II, C64, Spectrum, PC) – monochrome space-themed graphics and poorly designed levels made this a critical failure.[3]
  • 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),[5] but was titled Boulder Dash IV – The Game for the Spectrum re-release.[3] The title allowed players access to tools which allowed them to design their own levels.
  • Rockford (1988 – Arcade, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Arcade, Spectrum,[6] Amstrad, C64)[3] - 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)[3]
  • Boulder Dash (1990 - Game Boy)[3]
  • Boulder Dash (1990 - NES)[3]
  • 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.[3]
  • Boulder Dash Xmas 2002 Edition (2002 – PC)[3]
  • GemJam Gold (2003 – PC) – the game's credits claim this is based on Boulder Dash, and is licensed by First Star.[3]
  • Boulder Dash – Treasure Pleasure (2003 – PC)[3]
  • Boulder Dash: Rocks! (2007 – PSP, DS, iOS)[3]
  • Boulder DAs Vol 1 (2009 – iOS)[3]
  • Boulder Dash-XL (2011 - Xbox Live Arcade, PC)[7]
  • Boulder Dash - The Collection! (2011 – Android) "Boulder Dash - The Collection for Android Announced". 
  • 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 by TapStar Interactive, including the original creators (TapStar co-founder Chris Gray and programmer Peter Liepa), in collaboration with First Star Software (2014 - Android, iOS) - A freemium game developed by SoMa Play Inc. and Katsu Entertainment LLC[8]
  • Boulder Dash (2015 – Intellivision) – Programmed by Scott Nudds. Co-published by First Star Software, Inc. and Classic Game Publishers, Inc./Elektronite


Review scores
Publication Score
CVG 34/40[9]
Crash 93%[10]
Sinclair User 5/10[11]
Your Sinclair 8/10[12]
Zzap!64 97%[13]
Home Computing Weekly 5/5[14]
Publication Award
Zzap!64 Gold Medal

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."[15]

Compute! favorably reviewed Boulder Dash Construction Kit, noting that the sample game was much more difficult than the original Boulder Dash.[16] 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.[17]

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."[18]

The ZX Spectrum version was voted number 9 in the Your Sinclair Official Top 100 Games of All Time.[19]

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.[20]

Clones and similar games[edit]

See Category:Rocks-and-diamonds games.


  1. ^ "Interview with author Peter Liepa". Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Boulder Dash". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Oh! FM-7 Museum". Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Rockford". World of Spectrum. Retrieved November 23, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Boulder Dash XL Announced". Bluesnews. November 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (January 21, 2014). "Original Boulder Dash Creators Team-Up For Mobile Remake". Game Informer. GameStop. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Boulderdash". Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Zzap!64 100th Issue Pull-Out Special Page 5". Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved December 6, 2012. 
  15. ^ Shapiro, Neil (Oct–Nov 1985). "Of Jewels and Ghouls and Butterflies and Strategies of War". II Computing. pp. 24–26. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  16. ^ Anderson, Rhett (February 1988). "Boulder Dash". Compute!. p. 53. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  17. ^ Rignall, Julian; Richard Leadbetter (June 1991). "Boulderdash review". Mean Machines (9). Retrieved June 4, 2009. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "YS Top 100 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. September 1993. 
  20. ^

External links[edit]