|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: First Star|
|Pub: Kalypso Media|
|Release: July 13, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Cartoon Violence|
The second element of frustration is one you simply can't get away from. This is a game of speed and accuracy, and if there is any one thing the Xbox 360 D-pad is bad at, it's inputting directions quickly and accurately. Eventually, you will come to stages where you have to dig through very narrow passages in very specific ways or else boulders will fall from the ceiling, crushing you dead. You really feel controller woes when you get to this point. Neither the analog stick nor the D-pad allows you to play this game reliably. I eventually got used to it, but there were still points when I tried to go down and turned right instead, only to fall into a firey death trap.
Once you get bored of the Arcade Mode, Boulder Dash-XL has a few other modes to toss your way. Retro Mode puts you into an 8-bit (or fewer, in this case) world, in order to play the game the way you did in the original C64 version. These retro levels are actually quite fun, if only because they are simpler than the Arcade Mode levels. Retro Mode really gets you thinking like an old-school gamer, considering simple options like direction and distance, while Arcade Mode will have you struggling with one-way gates, telescopic robot arms, and enemies that are much smarter than ones who simply turn right and left.
My favorite mode in the game, however, is Puzzle Mode. It's unfortunately the shortest mode in the game, but it's the one that makes you think the hardest. Puzzle Mode levels are extremely tiny and require a very specific set of moves to complete. You basically need to collect all of the diamonds in these modes to unlock the exit, and the stages are so closely packed that getting each diamond is more of a matter of closely planning the route you will travel rather than speed. It lets you cope with the Xbox D-pad by slowly and pointedly pressing every direction, although I still screwed up once in a while.
Boulder Dash-XL has its ups and downs. Sometimes you'll have these awesome "Eureka!" moments where you figure out just what you have to do to get your next diamond, while other times you will feel as if the game is mocking you with its poor controls and unfair time limits. Still, this is a ten-dollar game, and you'll easily get more than ten dollars' worth of puzzling out of Boulder Dash-XL. Just know what you are getting into before you buy it and you won't be disappointed. However, if old school directional puzzles aren't your thing, or if you are easily frustrated by the Xbox controller, feel free to pass it up.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer