Video Game: Dangerous Dave

Dangerous Dave is a 1988 computer game by John Romero. It was developed for the Apple II and DOS as an example game to accompany his article about his GraBASIC, an Applesoft BASIC add-on, for the UpTime disk magazine.

The object of the game was to collect gold cups to move on to the next level. Since the original 1988 publishing of Dangerous Dave on UpTime, there have been three ports of the original to other platforms. There is also a sequel, kind of, as that game is completely unrelated to the first in both story and gameplay: Dangerous Dave In The Haunted Mansion. The sequel itself has two other sequels.

The idea of Dangerous Dave came to John Romero under the influence of Super Mario. There are definitely similarities that are easily noticeable, such as the secret levels, the level design, the monsters, and the jumping. The mission is to guide Dave through ten levels, collecting trophies in the hideout of his enemy, Clyde. It is one of the earliest commercial PC games to support VGA mode.

  • Dangerous Dave, 1988, Apple II, 6-color, Up Time (the original)
  • Double Dangerous Dave, 1990, Apple II, 16-color, Softdisk (16 color port of the 1988 original)
  • Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement, 1990, DOS, EGA, non-published (the demo that launched Commander Keen and id Software)
  • Dangerous Dave, 1990, DOS (CGA, EGA, VGA), Softdisk (DOS version of the 1988 original)
  • Dangerous Dave GS, 1990, Apple //GS, never completed (//GS version of the 1988 original)


This Video Game contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name
  • A Winner Is You: the ending isn't all that different from the short end-of-level screen.
  • Big Bad: Clyde. Also qualifies as The Unfought and All There in the Manual; if you hadn't read the instructions, you wouldn't even know there was a big bad.
  • One Bullet at a Time: The Gun powerup only allows one shot onscreen. Fortunately (or not) for you, enemies can only fire one onscreen shot at a time, too.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: its surreal graphics and lack-of-a-plot are utterly different from the "sequels", which are about a shotgun-wielding redneck fighting zombies and assorted other monsters.
  • Every 10000 Points: You get an extra Dave (life) for every 20,000 points collected. You can get up to 5 extra lives this way (until your score caps at 99,999 points).
  • Expy: Dangerous Dave is based off of Mario. There is little similarity between them, though, other than that they're humans who wear a red cap and can jump high.
  • Excuse Plot: "somebody stole your trophies, go get them".
  • Fake Platform: Some purple metal girders are not actual platforms and you'll pass right through them. Level 9 in particular drops you right onto one at the start of the level, so you'd better have learned how to tell the difference by then (look closely at their patterns) Incidentally, it's easier to spot the difference if you set the display to 4-color CGA mode.
  • Flip Screen Scrolling: Approach the left or right edge of the screen and the game level will scroll in that direction by a screen.
  • Goddamned Bats: All enemies patrol fixed areas. Considering most of them move at a faster speed than you, this can make them hard to hit with your gun.
  • Jet Pack: One of the two powerups in the game. It allows you to fly in any direction, but has limited fuel (and, very importantly, powerups don't respawn when you die).
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Dave can't take any punishment. Fortunately, neither can any of the enemies.
  • Secret Level: Some levels allow you to walk on the ceiling, and walking off the side of the level in this manner transports you down a "warp zone" to a secret area which is just offscreen from another level, such as the Level 5 secret being on the opposite side of that "PGR" in Level 2.
  • Scoring Points: You get points for picking up treasure (including the trophy required to unlock the exit), powerups, shooting enemies, and completing each level. Note that it caps at 99,999 points.
  • Shmuck Bait: In level 2 you can see gems floating above fire and water. Does the game allow you to jump down and claim them? Why, yes ... if you don't mind losing a life for trying.
  • Super Drowning Skills: How exactly water tiles can "roast Dave very blackly" (as quoted in the game's builtin help) is a mystery, but either way, avoid it the same as you would fire (and purple weirdweeds).
  • Taking You with Me: Colliding with an enemy not only kills you, but them too. This can be useful in a few cases if you don't mind losing a life to do it.
  • Video Game Lives: They're identified as extra "Daves", and you start with three.
  • Wrap Around: Levels 8 and 10 feature open pits at the bottom of the screen that, when you fall through them, drop you atop the ceiling of the level. This is in fact necessary to complete those levels.
  • Warp Zone: Sure, there are secret areas called warp zones, but they don't really warp you anywhere, really; they're just hidden areas with treacherous platforms and bonus points, and they return you to (the start of) the level you were at upon completion.