Review: Boulder Dash XL (XBLA)

It’s possible that Boulder Dash XL’s release on Xbox Live passed by completely under your radar. With the release of Twisted Pixel’s Ms. Splosion Man and the upcoming Summer of Arcade promotion, this sequel/update of a classic 8-bit adventure didn’t take much effort to overlook. As is often the case though, the game with the least amount of hype can be the biggest surprise.

Boulder Dash XL is, in a word, superb. This arcade puzzler is simply packed full of content, and most importantly, quality content. The basic premise of the game’s two main modes is to collect all the gems/diamonds on a map and reach the exit before time runs out. The rest of the game functions in a manner similar to Dig Dug; you dig through dirt, avoid being crushed by falling boulders and, whenever possible, try to make various monsters/enemies get crushed by them instead. There are also power-ups and various other aspects that alter the game, such as speed-ups, the ability to extend your arm, teleporters, time extenders, etc. The combined result is often a race against time where you will be quickly dodging monsters and falling boulders as you attempt to reach increasingly elusive gems.

The game has several mode types as well. Arcade is the primary game mode with one hundred levels of cave-searching action. Additionally, the game offers a twenty-five level “retro” mode, which gives the game a 2D look, alters the gameplay a bit and offers a slightly more difficult challenge. There are also four “Score attack” levels and a “Puzzle” mode with twenty-five more levels where the time limit is removed and you must simply figure out how to make it through. The game also supports a “Zen” mode where you can play previous levels without a time limit. The various types allow you to hop back and forth, keeping the game fresh even after a couple of hours straight. Arcade and Retro are both tons of fun, but I found myself enjoying the puzzle mode a lot as well. Other than Zen mode, you’re going to really want to check them all out; they aren’t just cheap filler, they really add a lot to the game.

Everything else about the game simply works, although some things better than others. It has bright, colorful graphics that are admittedly a little too colorful and a little low-end, but they are acceptable. The soundtrack is nothing special, but it does capture the fun spirit of the game. The sound effects are mostly forgettable (not great, but you aren’t going to be noticing them much anyway). On the opposite side of the coin, the level design is superb. While it does border on evil at times, especially if you are determined to collect every diamond in a level, the overwhelming majority of it is light enough to not be frustrating and challenging enough to be fun. Lately, it seems many of the puzzle games I’ve played have had so many frustrating moments where the game felt cheap, so it was incredibly refreshing to play one that in no way feels like that. By no means will you fly through all the levels. Some will take numerous attempts with you trying different ways to make it through before finally finding a solution, but no level feels unachievable. Boulder Dash XL has a serious “just one more” effect that can and will keep you playing for hours at a time without making you want to throw your controller.

So if you are one of those people out there like me who weren’t familiar with the previous iterations and might have missed this gem then I recommend digging into your Microsoft points. Boulder Dash XL features some fantastic level design coupled with several different fun and engaging game modes to keep things fresh and entertaining. For only 800 points, Boulder Dash XL offers tons of gameplay and potential replay value. It isn’t often that I recommend a game at full price, but it also isn’t that often that a game surprises me so completely with how fun it is.

Final Rating: 9/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Approximate Time to Completion: N/A – Haven’t completed all levels yet
Gamer Score Earned: 40/200
Price Bought at: N/A – Review copy furnished by Kalypso/Catnip
Current Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)
Recommend Purchase Price: Completely worth the 800 points, should be an instant buy if ever on sale.

Contest Details

Of course, free is always better… That’s right, the makers of Boulder Dash XL have been kind enough to give us an extra download token (code) so that we can give one of you your very own copy of Boulder Dash XL! You can gain up to three entries, please read the details on how to enter below:

First entry: Boulder Dash XL is a sort of remake/reboot of a classic 8-bit game (technically it is a sequel), so we want to know what your favorite remake/reboot is.  It can be a game or even a movie.  Tell us in the comments below and you’ll have your first entry!

Second entry: Follow us on Twitter and send the following tweet:

@ClearanceBinRev is giving away Boulder Dash Xl for #XBLA #Xbox, Find out how you could win by going to:

Remember that you have to follow us; any winner we attempt to DM via Twitter who isn’t following us automatically forfeits their win. If you enter via Twitter, include your Twitter name in your post below. Winners who have their Twitter listed will receive their codes immediately after winning.



Third Entry: Like our Facebook page, and then simply like the post on our wall for this article. Simple as that. (Keep in mind that the article may take a minute or two to post on Facebook and that it may be lower on the page towards the end of the contest.)

Contest will go until Friday at 8pm CST. A pool of all eligible entries will then be randomly selected from and the winners will be notified. CBR reserves the right to disqualify any entry that we feel violated either the rules or the spirit of the contest, including attempts at duplicate entries. A winner selected with no Twitter name provided will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond. We do not announce the names of contest winners, but do encourage them to post about their win.


About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.