Boulder Dash, Atari 2600

This Atari 2600 homebrew port of Boulder Dash was first revealed in 2011 and there was talk of releasing it as a cartridge, but I’m not 100% sure if that actually happened or not (I think it did, from what I can see online).

The only ROMs available online are a two-level demo made by the developers to show off the game, and that is what these screenshots are from.

Due to the complex nature of Boulder Dash the programmers, Andrew Davie and Thomas Jentzsch, used advanced bank-switching to get around the limited on-board memory of the 2600. The full version of the game apparently does feature all sixteen classic Boulder Dash levels (plus the variants based on the five difficulty levels), which is remarkable.

Boulder Dash on the Atari 2600 is a playable enough game, with responsive controls and typically challenging gameplay. The game has the 2600‘s characteristic chunky graphics, and the scrolling works well enough. There’s even a continuous tune that plays throughout, that the original Atari 8-bit version didn’t have, which is actually surprisingly good.

Boulder Dash on the Atari 2600 is one of the most sophisticated games ever written for the console and demonstrates what’s possible with a bit of persistence and ingenuity.

The levels provided in the demo (“Funnel” and “Apocalypse“) apparently show off all the features of the game, but to be honest the version I played had me scratching my head and I never managed to complete the first stage. It’s one where you have to clear dirt underneath a special wall and then drop boulders through it to convert them into gems. I managed to collect a few gems, but nowhere near enough to complete the level. I tried for a couple of hours and eventually gave up. It seems a bit counter-intuitive to me to put an almost impossible level first in a two-level demo… Why not show off all the features first, then focus on really taxing the player?

See also: Boulder Dash Special

More: Boulder Dash on Wikipedia

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