Holy nostalgia, Batman! It’s like I’ve been transported back to the 1980s, with its terrible hair, Miami Vice pastel suits and, crucially, addictive coin-operated arcade games. Who have I got to thank for this trip back in time? Why, Choice Provisions, the developer best known for the Bit Trip series, of course! Their latest release, Woah Dave!, has just landed on Playstation 4 and Vita, and is inflicting gamers with that well-known illness: high-score fever.
When his home planet comes under attack from aliens, Dave takes it upon himself to thwart their plans and send them back to where they came from. Woah Dave! is as pure a concept as any, taking cues from games like Joust and the Mario Bros arcade game to deliver concentrated fun – and at an affordable price. As the inaugural release for Choice Provisions new Mini Visions label, with which they intend to release smaller, more affordable games, Woah Dave! attempts to scratch that ‘pick up and play’ itch.
Just like in Joust you’ll be jumping around levels scattered with platforms, and ominous lava bubbling below. Your goal is to destroy aliens, as well as any unhatched eggs still on-screen, but there are a couple of caveats. You have a few weapons at your disposal to kill those nasty aliens, but they have some drawbacks of their own. You can destroy new hatchlings by tossing other eggs at them, but if you aren’t careful they might hatch whilst you are holding onto them, costing you one of your precious lives. Skull-shaped bombs are another option that can destroy multiple hatchlings and eggs at the same time, but they also have timers meaning that, just as with the eggs, you’ll need to toss them quickly and keep away from any bombs yet to explode. If things start to get really crazy you might also find yourself lucky enough to be in the presence of a Woah Block; similar to the POW block found in Mario Bros arcade, it can clear the screen of all enemies and create a little breathing room for Dave. Dave is rewarded for his efforts with money, well, one cent coins, but every penny is a prisoner! Your overall score is based on how many pennies Dave has collected over the course of a round.
The game’s basic arcade formula has a few nice twists that will keep you on your toes, sending aliens to drop platforms closer to the lava, or raising the lava closer towards you. If enemies fall into the hot stuff they will evolve to become faster and meaner, making things a little trickier. If you are really keen for a challenge you can also try “Bonkers” mode, which unlocks after you have managed to collect $1.50 in one round. This mode throws even more enemies and bombs at you, allowing you to indulge in your masochistic side, if you wish.
If you were never much into arcade games or high score chasing, this game will be unlikely to change that. But, if you enjoy the thrill that accompanies moving up in the leaderboard, or rubbing your new high score in your friends faces, you will find a lot to like here.
Woah Dave! is a strong first release from the Mini Visions label, and, barring any alien takeover or volcanic activity, I am, personally, looking forward to seeing more bite sized gaming goodness from them in the future.