Dave Lonuts is not just how we insult Dave, in fact, it’s also the name of the blue pantaloon-wearing yellow man that stars in Woah Dave!, the latest game from indie wunderkind Choice Provision Games (previously Gaijin Games), the folks behind the insanely addictive Bit.Trip.Runner series.
Woah Dave! throws Dave Lonuts on a stationary screen and pits him against one-eyed monsters, lava, and UFO’s. Initially, eggs are dropped from above, which, if not thrown in the lava or destroyed with exploding skulls (more on this in a moment), will crack open and hatch a one-eyed monster. Each monster that isn’t killed and makes it way to the lava evolves into a different version of itself – sometimes a one-eyed flying beast, sometimes a faster-paced monster.
Onto those exploding skulls – one of the few ways to destroy monsters is by either throwing them into the lava at the bottom of the stage, or to throw a skull at them. These are timed ‘bombs’ that flash black-and-red for a few seconds before exploding and destroying whatever creature they’re next to – which may be a one-eyed monster or Dave Lonuts himself. These are essentially Dave Lonuts’ best defence, and defeating enemies is the only way to gain the precious pennies that the monsters drop. Gain over $1.50, and you unlock a faster-paced “Bonkers!” mode.
Back to those eggs for a moment. They’re really quite simple in design: a small white egg with a big green dot on them; not too dissimilar to Yoshi’s eggs from the Mario series. Another way to destroy monsters is by throwing a “WOAH” block on the stage. This works similar to the “POW!” blocks that featured so wonderfully in Super Mario Bros. 3’s battle arena.
What Woah Dave! essentially boils down to is a very basic score-chasing platformer. It recalls the score-chasing joys of Bubble Bobble, but unfortunately doesn’t transfer the same itch to best your previous high score. High scores here are calculated on a monetary scale. Every monster killed drops one penny; the higher level the monster, the more money dropped. For example, a one-eyed monster will drop one penny, but a flying eyeball will drop four pennies.
There is a challenge involving “monster managing,” where you can essentially hedge your bets and let monsters evolve into faster, more difficult types just to knock them down for a greater gain. This element of micro-managing your monsters to reach a greater score makes for a good challenge, especially when the screen fills up with UFO’s, who then destroy the platforms that Dave Lonuts relies on.
Woah Dave! feels like it would have made for a good arcade cabinet game. Not one that you’d line up to play, but one that you’d play because Pac-Man or some other better game was occupied. The score tally, among other elements, harkens back to the heyday of the arcade era. Other notable elements include the 8-bit look, which has become a kind of trademark style for Choice Provision Games, the surprisingly addictive chiptune music, the simplistic design of Dave Lonuts, and the design of the enemies.
It’s a game that plays like an homage to an era long past, and while there is a place for this kind of score-chasing game, Woah Dave! doesn’t do enough to stand out as something unique. It’s a mish-mash of a bunch of elements from games that have come before, all of which handled the same elements better.
The Playstation Vita and PS4 versions have a trophy list with set goals that might help with replayability, but I feel the game would have benefited greatly from including these goals within the game itself. Also, quite oddly, the trophy list demonstrates a comedic touch that the game simply doesn’t have – one trophy is gained by entering the name “POO” into the name field upon reaching a new high score, another has the title “Three Dollar Dave!”
Overall, there isn’t enough in Woah Dave! to warrant revisiting, unless you’re really into score chasing or topping the leaderboards. Even then, there’s a lot better score-chasing games out there on the market to revisit time and time again.
Playstation Vita version reviewed. Woah Dave! is also available on 3DS and iOS.