Have you ever looked at the things that inspire you and thought “I could do better”? That seems to be the impetus behind Woah Dave!, a new single-screen arcade platformer from Choice Provisions (formerly Gaijin Games).
Woah Dave! is a loving tribute to everything you love about the first generation of arcade games – especially if you’re a fan of the original Mario Bros. But its charming old school veneer hides something you would rarely find in the glory days of the arcade: a demand for a thoughtful mind in addition to a twitchy thumb.
While the fundamentals involve a lot of running and jumping from platform to platform, Woah Dave! is really about choosing the right time to throw the right objects at the right places.
Players will primarily concern themselves with eggs and skulls. Both fall from the sky, but while eggs will hatch an enemy after a few seconds of idle time, skulls will use that pause to build up a charge and explode. Throwing skulls at eggs will destroy them, but so will putting eggs near a skull’s explosion. Likewise, throwing eggs and skulls can take out a freshly hatched enemy.
With these basics, Woah Dave! weaves a challenge that’s easy enough to grasp but takes plenty of practice to master. Do you pick up a skull and throw it at eggs, over and over, dodging its explosion in the end? Or should you pick up every egg you can and toss them next to a skull, waiting for the big ka-boom?
It sounds easy enough, but with the fuse on hatching eggs and exploding skulls being incredibly short, and more of each being added to the mix constantly, you’ll find your mind forever on edge as you switch from decision to decision.
And lets not forget the coins! Each dead egg/enemy drops them, and coins are your only means of scoring in Woah Dave! So while you might be setting up a great feat on one side of the screen, you’ll want to do it without losing the coins that are still waiting to be collected on the other.
Such precise gameplay demands precise controls, and Woah Dave! delivers. While at first I found myself struggling, a quick visit to the options menu let me place the buttons wherever I found them most comfortable. I was also able to zoom in closer to the gameplay; if you’re on an iPhone, I strongly encourage this.
All of this is wrapped up in a presentation that’s straight out of 1983. Both the visuals and audio deliver perfectly. There’s even a “WOAH” block in place of Mario Bros’ “POW”.
Woah Dave! is everything you ever wanted from the early 80’s arcade experience, but better; refined. It has the speed of Super Crate Box, but without the built-in frustration. There’s an element of strategy, but it’s not so deep or complex that you’ll struggle to learn it.
This is gaming stripped down to its bare bones. Woah Dave! is the grunge rock of video games, and I’m loving every minute of it.
DISCLAIMER: Woah Dave! developer Choice Provision currently employs a former Gamezebo Editor. This is in no way influential in our choosing to review Woah Dave!, nor did it impact the score we gave it. This is just a tremendously good game, period.