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Rockfall

Rockfall screenshot

Rockfall is a Spectrum puzzle game written by Ian Collier in 1985 and published on a Crash magazine cover tape in 1990.

Rockfall is a Boulder Dash-style game: you move up, down, left and right in a scrolling playfield, digging through grass, dislodging rocks, and collecting enough jewels to open up the exit. You die if you are hit by a falling object or caught in an explosion, or if an alien catches you.

There are no random events in Rockfall, and the aliens move in predictable patterns. However, you must rely on incomplete information: the position of the exit — while fixed for each level — is concealed until you collect enough jewels, and you can only see about a tenth of the playfield at any time.

A sequel, Rockfall II, was released in 1991. This had slightly improved sound and graphics and included some levels designed by Crash readers. Levels 7 and 14 are my own.

Solutions

Rockfall has 28 levels, numbered from zero, and Rockfall II has 20. You can start the game from any level you've reached so far.

Generally, each level is made up of a number of small and separate puzzles, in contrast to games like Boulder Dash where levels are smaller and tend to revolve around a single concept.

Here's a recorded Rockfall solution (715 KB) in RZX format. This is the only time I've finished the entire game in one sitting, and I managed to do it without losing a life. I also recorded a rather less perfect Rockfall II solution (430 KB).

Glitches

Rockfall has some glitches, or strange behaviours, which you can sometimes use to your advantage.

Modifications

Rockfall III title screen

You can modify the levels and graphics in Rockfall if you have a little technical knowledge.

Here are my alternative graphics sets.

In 1996 I planned a sequel, Rockfall III, based on the Rockfall II engine, but it never came to fruition. Here are my levels (20 from the first draft of Rockfall III and 24 others; my sister helped with level 10) and three levels by Matt Westcott. You can play them in the Rockfall Designer — the numbers of jewels required are appended to the filenames — but be warned that most of them are unreasonably difficult.

A back door

Although it is a machine-code game, Rockfall has a BASIC control program, and there is a back door that allows you to break into it. At the level selection prompt, which appears when you have completed at least one level, type wIlBuR. (Ian Collier told me that Wilbur was the name of a similar game his friends were developing for the BBC Micro.)

Having accessed the BASIC prompt, you can make any changes you want and then resume the game with GO TO 1. (Don't use RUN!) The best way to cheat is LET BL=27, which gives you access to every level.

I discovered the back door when I was about 11 through an amusing accident. Frustrated with a difficult level, I typed garbage into the level selection prompt until it filled the entire screen, which somehow dropped me into BASIC — where I spotted the "wIlBuR" line in the program.

There is a similar back door in Rockfall II. It involves pressing some keys simultaneously (Caps Shift, S, E, 4, and 6) on the title screen. However, this was only used during testing. Rockfall II as released by Crash has no BASIC program at all, and pressing those keys will just crash the game.

This page was last updated 431 days ago.

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