Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A few thoughts on Space Dave! now that I've put nearly 10 hours into it

I've got to be honest: my initial impressions of Space Dave weren't great.

You see, one of the things I liked most about this game's predecessor, Woah Dave, was its simplicity--and I mean that in terms of its graphics as well as its gameplay.

That's not how I would've described Space Dave's graphics and gameplay after booting it up for the first time a few weeks back. Actually, I'm not sure I'd describe them that way now.

After all, this Switch eShop game's visuals are a strange, and often kind of off-putting, mix of really blocky and somewhat less blocky backdrops and sprites. (Think Atari 2600 on the one end, and NES on the other.) Also, there's a lot more going on with Space Dave's gameplay than what was offered up in the relatively straightforward Woah Dave. (This is despite the fact you can boil Space Dave's premise down to "use whatever means necessary to clear each screen of enemies.")

Although it took me a while to develop an appreciation for Space Dave's looks, I came around to its deeper-and-more-strategic-than-it-first-appears alien-shooting action pretty darn quickly. In fact, just a handful of 15- or 20-minute stints was all I needed to realize it's not only a worthy successor to Woah Dave, but to the games--like Space Invaders and Galaga--that inspired it as well.

Here are a few reasons why I've since become so smitten with Space Dave that I've dumped just under 10 hours into it:

It's the perfect Switch game for when you've only got five or 10 minutes of free time--Sure, there have been times when I've spent 30 minutes or even an hour with Space Dave. Usually, though, I play it for 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. If that doesn't sound like much, consider that you can make a good number--five? maybe 10?--of high-score runs in those scant few minutes. Or you can if you're like me and you abort a run if you die or stupidly allow a descending alien (à la Galaga) to crash into the ground and create a lava pit before you reach a certain point.

Space Dave also is a great game if you want to forget about time completely--That's because it's one of those "just one more level" kind of games. Or maybe I should say "just one more run" kind of games--as in, just one more run at a high score. I don't know how other people are playing Space Dave, but for me, every time I hit "start" I do so either to move up one of its online leaderboards or to top my previous best effort. It's possible to "beat" or finish the game--at least I think it is; I've yet to conquer it myself--but seeing its credit roll isn't my main goal. And yet I continue to plug away at it, day after day. In other words, prepare to become blissfully addicted if you decide to plunk down some of your hard-earned cash on Space Dave.

Its soundtrack is sublime--And not only that, but it perfectly complements the game's frenetic on-screen action. Admittedly, Space Dave's soundtrack is so similar to Woah Dave's that I had to ask creator Jason Cirillo if the two were one and the same when I interviewed him a couple of weeks ago (related aside: they're different), but don't take that to be a criticism. For me, Space Dave's music is one of its many highlights. It (and its accompanying audio) makes me feel like I'm playing the game in a packed arcade during the 1980s--and that's only ever a good thing.

I've had a blast trying to discover all of its secrets--At first, Space Dave's gameplay can seem pretty basic. (Not as basic as Woah Dave, mind you, but still basic enough.) You can move Dave left and right, you can make him jump and even hover, and you can shoot at the aliens that flit and twirl overhead. Give it a bit of time, though, or "cheat" and do a little Internet sleuthing, and you're sure to discover some of the secrets that make playing Space Dave even more thrilling--and strategic--than it was initially. One example: if you leap into the wave that erupts from one of the game's POW-like "SPACE" blocks, it'll temporarily make you invincible as well as boost the power of your weapon.

If you'd like to know about more of Space Dave's secrets, tricks, tips, and advice, by the way, stay tuned. I'm prepping a blog post that'll cover all four.

In the meantime, I'd highly recommend buying Space Dave if you've got the dough ($9.99) and if you've got room on your Switch. It's a wonderful evolution of single-screen arcade shoot 'em ups like Galaga and Space Invaders. Plus, if you're like me, you'll probably still be playing it this time next year. How many games can that be said about these days?

Note: both Woah Dave's and Space Dave's names actually end in an exclamation point, like this--Space Dave! That can make writing about either game a bit of a nightmare, though, so in an attempt to make my life (and yours) a little easier, I axed the exclamation point throughout this post.

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