Developer: Choice Provisions
Publisher: Choice Provisions
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Arcade, Action, First Person, Platformer
Release Date: 25th of January, 2018 (EU & NA)
Just when you thought the invasion was over, more aliens come-a-knocking!
I hope you’re ready for a single-screen galactic battle game that plays like a modern Space Invaders game, with old school graphics, because from the very same awesome studio responsible for the Bit.Trip games, such as Runner2 and the upcoming Runner3, Space Dave! is now available on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, but is it a game worth buying?
Well, how about we break it down and reach a conclusion together? Due to its Dave! name, you would be right to assume that Space Dave! is another title to come from Choice Provisions’ Mini-Divisions label, but instead of being a straight up sequel to Woah Dave!, it is a spiritual successor and is described as being “a modern take on the fixed shooters of yesteryear.” Only, if you’re assuming Space Dave! plays exactly like Whoa Dave! does, you would be wrong, for the two games, albeit they share the same hero as Dave Lonuts and a couple of other minor features, the two games are completely different and that’s a good thing because now players can experience an arcade game hero they know and love, in a different setting, which he feels right at home in!
Talking of a different setting, with no real story as such, other than aliens are attacking the earth it is down to Dave, or any of the other characters you choose to play as (8 in total, with Mr. Robotube, CommandGirlVideo and Dave!? among them,) Space Dave! is a game all about defending the planet earth. With 8 stages, with each one made up of 4 phases, your chosen hero must move left and right to evade the projectiles fired from various alien life forms that will come out at you, from all directions and shoot them down whenever possible by mashing the L/ZL and even Y, to shoot your own projectiles from your Jetblaster.
Failure to take them out before one or more of them decide to break away from the groups and touching the ground around you, will cause them to evolve into even deadlier aliens and cause a section of the ground to dissipate and be replaced with scolding hot lave that will kill you upon impact if you touch it and so will the lava monster that will pop out from time to time, so be careful jumping/hovering over the lava pit, because it only takes one bad jump into a lava monster, to cost you one of your three lives.
The good news however, is if you kill one of the evolved monsters, their skull will fall to the ground, which you can pick up and throw in the direction you’re facing. If you throw it into the lava pit, almost all of it will return, with a second skull restoring the ground completely. As for what happens when a third skull is thrown on the same spot, a Bonus Tree will sprout up and provided the tree is still present when the Phase is over, you can earn coins for every tree you have left. Now, you could try ignoring the gaping holes as they’re created and instead focus on shooting the aliens that are shooting at you, but should you survive long enough to reach the boss battle that plays out on every fourth Phase, you’re going to need as much ground as possible, to run across should you wish to survive, as every section helps.
Should you have very little ground though, and only one life left, victory can be yours, if you have the right stuff and by right stuff, I mean power-ups and something else, but we can get to that in just a second. Not only can killing aliens cause coins to be dropped, but so can power-ups that do things like give you helpful drones, to fight back with, a rapid fire power that makes you shoot even faster and a spread power-up that causes any and all fire you put out, to spread and hit more enemies at once, but where the real strength comes from though, is when the Space Blocks appear on screen, being carted around by your friend in a spaceship. Should you shoot it down, grab it and throw it underneath a mass of aliens, you can kill/capture a bunch of them and make them join your side of the battle.
Just like you, getting shot can kill them, but depending on their species, some can actually take a couple of hits before going down, so always be sure to make every second count, because when joined by others, even the toughest of bosses can be taken down in mere seconds. When the boss is dead though, there will be a coin shown on the screen, an alien will attempt to grab it and fly away from it, it is imperative you kill the alien asap and grab the coin (by jumping if you have to,) because doing so will unlock a checkpoint, so should you happen to die not long after and quite the game, you can always start again on the new stage you unlocked.
Now, while Space Dave! is game where the content itself won’t take you too long to beat the game, if you know what you’re doing and have studied the enemy patterns enough, there is something you do need to know about it and the thing, is it is HARD! I’m not talking your typical playable game on Hard mode or Mutant Mudds hard, but true arcade/NES game hard. Even when playing on Normal mode was enough to make me want to rage quit and break down and cry, so because I was clearly not the experienced gamer I thought it was, even when I wimped out and tried to play easy mode, it took me almost an hour just to beat the first 4 phases.
If you put the time in, Space Dave! can get good and easier with every time you play it, but the first hour of playing it is the most crucial, as it can and will put off many who try to play it, which is a great shame, but the good news, is that there is local co-op supported and co-op is fun! The coins you collectively earn can be used to bring your team-mate back to life after dying and the actual levels themselves feel easier to get through, so if you want a less taxing playthrough, having someone to play through is a must. But should you be more than well-versed in arcade games and can handle yourself and more than up to the challenge to try out Bonkers mind and find it way too easy for your tastes, at the end of every playthrough, should you set a new record, you can upload your score online to cement your status of a pro, or try your hand at completing each of the game’s achievements, but best of luck to you, because they will take a lot of doing.
Oddly enough though, the game’s difficulty is not Space Dave!’s worst fault and nor is its $9.99 price tag because, yeah the game might not have as much content as it could have done and has more levels for you to jump right into and play, without a new Dave Coin to save your progress, after you beat the final boss and watch the credits, but the rumble is. It doesn’t matter the rumble can be turned off, or feels lessened when playing with a Pro Controller, but when playing with the Joy-Con controllers with rumble on, the sudden excessively noisy vibrations can be often off-putting and distracting when you’re trying to be in the zone and kill everything that moves. Yes, you can turn rumble off like I’ve said already, but it would have been nice if you could lessen the effect of it, so you can feel it but not be pulled out of the zone because it’s too loud and interferes with the rather catching chiptune soundtrack that plays throughout. Other than that and no friends leaderboards, Space Dave! is a pretty enjoyable ride.
As with any game made by Choice Provisions, Space Dave! is fun, quirky and rather promising, but underutilised rumble, lack of a friends leaderboads and a long learning curve, are things that don’t do the game justice, because like with many arcade games, although Space Dave! is good and gets better, with or without a friend, unless you’re willing to put the time into it and play, you will never understand how good a game Space Dave! actually is. So unless you’re adamant you want to play the Woah Dave! successor or just enjoyed the original game, and need more Dave Lonuts action is in your life, than Space Dave! might not be for you, but you might know someone who will enjoy it instead.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Choice Provisions