By Anni Simpson on October 29, 2014 at 10:42pm
“Woah Dave” is an 8-bit arcade game where you control a penny-pinching character named Dave. It was published by Choice Provisions, formerly Gaijin Games, the developers who produced “BIT.TRIP,” a popular rhythm game available on Steam.
To be honest, the game pissed me off from the very beginning: it required a controller, looped the same 10 second “soundtrack” endlessly, and offered no settings beyond sound effects and music volume. We’re off to a good start.
The premise is simple: control Dave to grab pennies. While you’re snatching falling coins, eggs and skulls drop from the sky, as well. If the eggs hatch, one-eyed monsters replace them, which you can kill by throwing skulls or unborn eggs at them. Skulls explode them, which are on their own timer. If you manage to throw a “Whoa Dave” block, everything explodes into coins. Monsters have a range of abilities, which include increased speed and flying. If you touch one for any reason, you die and respawn. At three deaths, you’re done.
“Whoa Dave” very much resembles a classic, difficult-as-hell-to-beat arcade game from the 80’s, almost a modern homage to the old “Mario Brothers.” But that was sort of the draw – I had to show the game up. It made a fool out of me, so I wanted to make a fool back out of it. As time progressed and my thumb got sore from the d-pad (primarily a PC gamer, not console), I improved just enough to see the next level, which was more of the same. Think “Tetris.” It doesn’t change; it just gets harder.
JUMP AND THROW AND DON'T DIE! WOAH DAVE! “Whoa Dave” Website
However, if nothing else, the gameplay is consistent in its frustration – which meant it ceased to be frustrating. As I got used to how the game worked – jump, throw, survive – the ability to survive became easier, and I was able to pull off clever combos in such a way I had a few seconds of breather after all the eggs on the map had been exploded in a two-second round of skull shooting
Of course, there’s no introductory level. There’s no need. The game is an iteration of a decades-old genre that had no story, no special skills, and no “end game” so to speak. It was all incredibly intuitive, as long as you had a controller.
Arcade games don’t need high-level graphics to succeed in their gameplay. The 8-bit graphics were so appropriate here that I quit “seeing” them as graphics per se. It was just me and the monsters. While the art style was almost cute, it stayed simple, which was good. Had the graphics been fancier, it would’ve siphoned my focus. Again, think “Tetris:” a single, intense objective needs as few distractions as possible if it’s going to succeed.
The sound was appropriate, but I really don’t think there was anything more than 10 seconds of original score. Also 8-bit and appropriate for the genre, it would’ve done well to at least switch over to something else when the levels changed. Or something. Anything.
The game grew on me. The first 10 or 15 attempts were short-lived, frustrating, and filled with monsters. As I played it more – and you’re going to have to be patient here – it got “easier” to develop a strategy on the fly before an egg hatches or a skull explodes. Being able to strategize on the go, explode annoying monsters who can kill you by existing close enough to your character, and collect coins en masse became incredibly rewarding as I continued to play. It also brought out my inner early 90’s childhood, poking at arcade games with my friends at a restaurant that served the best pizza (and beer) in town. The ability to bring out that level of nostalgia is rare, and I have to give credit where credit is due.
“Whoa Dave” is available on many different platforms:
- Steam (PC, Mac): $4.99
- iOS: $1.99 (introductory price)
- Android: Coming Soon
- Nintendo 3DS: $4.99
- PlayStation (Vita, PS4): Coming Soon