The NES/Famicom version of the classic Boulder Dash was developed by Data East and published by JVC in North America and Data East in Japan in 1990.
It is distinguished from other Boulder Dash conversions by having completely different graphics and sound from the original.
Rockford is now a cute human character (wearing a mining helmet), and not an anthropomorphous insect, and the game in this case features themed worlds (Sand World, Ocean World, Relic World, Volcano World, Boulder World, and Ice World), each with four associated levels that are shown on a ‘world map’. So at least in terms of presentation and structure it is significantly different to the Atari 8-bit original.
Playing the game, it does at least feature exactly the same type of gameplay as the original: dig through the ground, negotiate the maze, collect the gems, and avoid getting squashed by falling boulders or killed by any of the other hazards.
The NES version of Boulder Dash features many of the same levels as the original, or at least similar to the classic levels of the original, but the game just looks so different to the Boulder Dash we know and love that playing this version is a bit of a shock. The boulders actually shake precariously in this version, which is disconcerting by itself.
Boulder Dash has a password system for accessing the twenty individual levels and these can be input when you first start the game. Also: if you get trapped by boulders and cannot progress a level you should hold down the A and B buttons simultaneously to kill yourself off and re-try.
Thankfully the developers didn’t try to change the actual gameplay or levels too much and at least managed to make a decent game of out it for Nintendo‘s 8-bit console. For some reason the game does feel a little easier than the original (possibly because some of the enemies don’t seem to instantly kill you if you’re next to them), but overall this jolly Japanese adaptation of the classic Canadian video game is a good one.
See also: Boulder Dash Special