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Andrew Davie

I'll try and update the instructions/manual here.


There are 3 caves (A,B,C).  Each cave has 5 levels which share a basic "architecture" in that the levels look similar - but have different features (walls, creatures) and different goals.  You may select any cave/level from the menu screen.

This game auto-detects the region in which it is being played.  PAL (actually PAL-60) and NTSC are supported. Your TV must be capable of the 60 Hz frame rate. If you have a multi-mode TV, be sure to select the correct region on your TV for your '2600 so that the colours on the TV are correct.


Here we go.  Instructions are fairly important to read, as the button is overloaded with several functions during gameplay.

Firstly, it uses a new display system by default - Interleaved ChronoColour (iCC). This is an expansion of ChronoColour, but with rolling colours and much more vivid colours. But it's geared to display on a CRT, and there can be significant flicker problems on many displays. Best adjust the CRT for lower brightness to reduce the "shimmer", and if you can stand further back it makes a big difference, too.  But in any case, iCC can be disabled on the menu by setting "iCC SYSTEM" to "OFF". Me, I like it and use it all the time. But there are reports that it's horrible on LCDs, and some people don't like it at all. On emulators, if you turn up the phosphor blend, that can make it look better.

Boulder Dash

If you're not familiar with it, the basic aim is typically to collect a target number of diamonds before the time runs out. You collect diamonds by walking over them, or "grabbing" them using a direction+button.  Boulders and diamonds will fall if nothing underneath them, or roll off "hard" objects. If a boulder or diamond falls on you, you're dead.  There are other objects like butterflies, fireflies, and an amoeba. Drop boulders on butterflies to turn them into diamonds. Enclose the amoeba so that it can't grow, and it will turn into diamonds.  That's the basic gist of it.

Switching Views

During gameplay, there are three alternate 'views' into the playing area, each with a different magnification (think: zooming).  These are named NORMAL, MID, and OVERVIEW.  Gameplay starts in NORMAL view. As a point of interest, NORMAL uses 4-pixel wide "characters", MID uses 2-pixel wide, and OVERVIEW uses 1-pixel wide (!!) characters.  To switch between NORMAL and MID views, briefly press/release the fire button. To see the OVERVIEW, double-click the fire-button at any time, and from MID or OVERVIEW press/release or double-click to exit back to NORMAL.  You can fully play the game on NORMAL and MID view.

OVERVIEW has dual-function. Firstly it lets you see the whole cave and plan your attack. But secondly, it acts as a pause mode - the timer is halted when in overview. If you press the joystick it will show PAUSED. Press button to return to NORMAL view and continue play.


This is a "couch compliant" game. After inserting cartridge and powering on (or running the binary in an emulator), you can veg out on the couch and only need your joystick, from that point on, for all game selection/playing.  Power off/on, rage reset, and toggling parallax require pressing console switches.

The game should auto-detect the console type. That is, it is PAL/NTSC compatible.

Power OFF/ON = start at copyright screen
RESET (held) (during gameplay) = RAGE QUIT abort/boot to menu red screen of shame
RESET+SELECT (held) (during gameplay) = suicide (alternate: hold button for 10 seconds)

RIGHT DIFFICULTY - toggle parallax

Up/down = choose menu line
left/right = change selection on currently selected menu line

fire button = start game
  After you start a game, you will see a STATS screen just before each cave is shown.
  This stats screen shows the cave and level in numeric form. An icon-view of the cave is drawn to allow you to get a brief idea of how things are organised and what you need to do.
Underneath the icon view is a small text hint that may or may not be relevant to the level. ;)
fire button press/release -> switch between NORMAL/MID views
fire button double-click -> switch to OVERVIEW (pause mode)
in MID and OVERVIEW, fire button press/release returns to NORMAL view
in OVERVIEW, fire button double-clik -> switch to NORMAL view.

fire held ~10 seconds = suicide. (== SELECT+RESET held on console during gameplay)
when about to suicide (by button), player changes to skeleton. You can abort by letting go of button. SELECT+RESET suicide is nearly immediate.
RESET = rage quit

U/D/L/R = move through dirt

push against a boulder L/R to push it (if there's space to push into). Moves player to where boulder was. Hold button when pushing a boulder to push it, but NOT move into where the boulder was

button + direction = grab adjacent dirt or diamond in that direction

after you die...
you can still switch views as described above
U/D/L/R to scroll around and see stuff

"short HOLD" fire -> start next life
^^^^. this appears to confuse most users who DON'T READ THE MANUAL.  Remember, the joystick is overloaded. Fire button press switches to MID view. Fire button HELD --> next life.

There are several display modes
1) #diamonds required, and time remaining
When diamond counter reaches 0, it will start counting up to show how many extra diamonds you have.This is the default display. When the time is < 10 seconds, the display will lock to this view, even if you score points.

1a) Lives and time.
Number of extra lives left, and time remaining. Usually shown at start of a level/new life.
2) score
This will display briefly when you get points, except if the time is < 10 seconds

In speedrun caves, you do not need to get diamonds. You need to get to the exit ASAP before the timer runs out.


A bit haphazard, but basically collect diamonds for points. You are NOT CREDITED with extra diamonds you collect (above the required number) until/unless you successfully complete the cave. At that point there is a count-up of diamonds, time, and if you manage to get ALL diamonds on a level then you are awarded a PERFECT BONUS (and all subsequent scores are multiplied by a score multiplier which is initially 2x, then 3x, etc. for each PERFECT level you achieve).

Extra life is every 500 points. When a 500-point boundary is passed, the background of the screen flash and then sparkle for a few seconds.

Serial Number
Your Boulder Dash binary is encoded with a unique serial number generated when the binary was distributed to you. This is a requirement from BBG Entertainment for release of this version. Please do not copy, distribute, sell or otherwise share the binary with others.


Thanks for the updated manual, reading these is still part of the fun along with the necessity for a full experience.

Andrew Davie

Instructions updated to reflect new usage of OVERVIEW as a pause mode


Question about moving boulders. Sometimes, I am able to push a Boulder several spaces across the screen, almost like bowling. Other times, the boulder only gets pushed the one space. I read through the instructions and didn't read anything about there being a difference in boulder movement.


Moving boulders: That's right, I noticed that too. It should be (first contact to move it) always only one space but if you continue holding in this direction, it should be moving continuously in that direction. I think this should be the right behavior - it should be ,,precisely calculable" to move a boulder (at least for only one space).

Andrew Davie

Quote from: McCallister on 14 Jun 2024, 02:34 AMQuestion about moving boulders. Sometimes, I am able to push a Boulder several spaces across the screen, almost like bowling. Other times, the boulder only gets pushed the one space. I read through the instructions and didn't read anything about there being a difference in boulder movement.

1. When a boulder is on top of a "rounded object", it rolls off the object into a vacant space - provided the square alongside and the square below THAT is vacant or contains a squashable object (e.g., Rockford).  In short, boulders "roll off" other boulders when they can.
2. When you PUSH a boulder, it moves one (and only one) square in the direction you push it.

Now combine 1 and 2.  You push a boulder one square onto the top of another boulder. That boulder has a space beside it. So, the very next game frame (i.e, in 1/10 second or so)... that boulder rolls off the boulder you pushed it on to.  It *seems* to push two squares, but in reality it's pushed one square / pause / rolls off.

I don't have a ready "fix" for this, because I think the behaviour is correct.

Andrew Davie

I have implemented a solution for this, although not strictly "correct" it seems to work well.
Will release when next round of bug-fixes go out.