Penny by penny
Fifty cents doesn’t sound like much, right? You could lose fifty cents in the couch cushion and not think twice about it. Well, I earned — that’s right earned — almost that much in Robotube Games’ Woah Dave!, and I was pretty damn proud of it.
Part of the reason for this seeming like such an accomplishment is because Woah Dave! doesn’t just give away money. It’s frugal. It makes you squeeze every cent out of it. But, most importantly, the gameplay makes it satisfying and rewarding to earn anything at all.
Woah Dave! is structured simply and familiarly. Set in arenas that are reminiscent of Mario Bros., the player (Dave?) runs around four tiers of broken platforms as enemies slowly swarm. It’s the way that everything is a threat that makes Woah Dave! unique.
The items that can be interacted with in Woah Dave! are eggs and skulls. Eggs, after a few seconds on the screen, hatch into monsters. Skulls can be picked up and thrown at the eggs (or monsters) to defeat them, but they’ll explode after a bit of time (there’s a blinking pattern to forewarn this) making them also dangerous.
The game quickly turns into a semi-cerebral affair of throwing everything at everything to try to simply stay alive. Eggs get thrown at monsters. Skulls get thrown at monsters. Skulls get thrown at eggs. Eggs get thrown at other eggs because you just screwed up and AHHHH THIS IS SO CRAZY!
Just because that wouldn’t be confusing enough, monsters evolve if you don’t clear them quickly enough. First, they just work their way downward. Then, they’ll make their way up the level, too. Eventually, they turn into flying eye-creatures that exist solely to hunt your ass down. Quick! Throw an egg at that bastard!
What’s this madness for, though? To make money, of course. Each time something’s defeated — be it an egg or a monster — they drop a penny. That’s right, a single coin. Once you clear thirty cents, a “Woah” block (that’s right, like in Mario Bros.) appears that destroys everything on the screen, providing a much needed reprieve.
Talking with the developers, they said that a really impressive run might take five minutes or so. I certainly didn’t make it that long. But, after exhausting my three lives, I walked away with $.49. It was good enough for the top of the leaderboard (even though PAX wasn’t open yet, and that score is almost definitely bested by now). It might not sound like much, but Woah Dave! made me feel like I earned every single penny.