On the floor of the Indie Mega Booth at PAX Prime this year, MiniVisions had two physical arcade cabinets rigged to run Woah Dave!. They didn’t ask me to plug in quarters to extend my play session, but damn, they certainly asked for some arcade know-how.
While it’s unrealistic to expect a Woah Dave! cabinet to come to a (probably non-existent) arcade near you anytime soon, when it eventually hits the 3DS, PlayStation 4 and Vita, PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS, you best be prepared to throw down with its brutal difficulty and two-button control scheme.
Pulling from countless arcade titles of yore, Woah Dave! grants each player one life to use, and a chaotic number of ways to lose it at any moment. As you command your Dave to leap onto staggered platforms that line a static level, exploding skulls and alien eggs bursting to hatch fall from the sky. Dave picks up an object whenever you run over it, and unless you want an unmanageable horde of aliens trotting around the screen, you’ll want to push the button that isn’t “jump” to throw your payload and nip your infestation problem in the bud, lest the roaming aliens make their way to lava pits at the bottom of the screen and start sprinting around in pain.
It’s hectic and it’s difficult, but the simplicity of Woah Dave! is it’s appeal. If you get touched by an alien or if you’re holding a skull or an egg when it has flashed too long and explodes, you die. Thrown eggs can cream a single hatched alien, while thrown skulls will crush anything they touch that isn’t another skull. And if the screen gets too full, an occasional “WOAH” block might drop to relieve some pressure by clearing out the entire stage when thrown.
Juggling the time-bombs that Woah Dave! throws in your face could be just the on-the-go fix you need, and hunting down the coins that the explosions leave behind should sate most high score-chasers thanks to planned online leaderboard support. A two-player competitive mode also focusses on who can collect the most coins while sabotaging their opponent, so there’s plenty of local fun to be had as well.
For what it’s worth, I found the controls on 3DS to be most responsive for the mid-air skull-catches, and backwards egg-throws I tried to pull off, but the other platforms MiniVisions had on display controlled just as well as they needed to for an arcade title like this.