It’s the year 7587 and things are pretty Awesome.
What do you get when you mix League of Legends with Mega Man? Ronimo Games are looking to answer that question, and to put a 2D twist on the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), with their newest game Awesomenauts. Despite any recent troubles you may have heard about with its publisher, Awesomenauts is jumping onto the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade as planned so grab a couple of friends and get in on the newest type of multiplayer action to hit consoles.
Awesomenauts, as I said above, is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena so, if you’re familiar with these type of games, the basic premise can be summed up by saying that this is League of Legends, or Defense of the Ancients, thrown into a classic 2D platformer’s body. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, picture a game like Mega Man only you’re on a team of three, fighting another team of three to destroy their base. In your way will be enemy turrets and drones, on top of the opposing team’s Awesomenauts.
The basic strategy of the MOBA translates very well into the Awesomenauts formula and veteran players will feel at home right away. You’ll use your team’s drones as cannon fodder to draw the fire of the turrets while you pound away on said turrets. All the while you’ll be fighting off enemy drones and players to defeat the turrets and expose the enemy base. In the case of Awesomenauts the base is the main drilling mechanism of a futuristic mining operation. The art style and general theme really reminds me of the cartoons of my childhood and even adds on a sweet opening theme song sequence in the same 80′s style. The colors pop and the characters are fun to look at. While the real focus is on the action, I have to say that Awesomenauts looks… awesome as well.
Each character in Awesomenauts plays much differently than the others and Ronimo has balanced them all well. Just when you think you might have the upper hand on an enemy player you’ll find yourself beating a hasty, tactical retreat to find some health. If you’ve spent any amount of time playing a MOBA you’ll quickly find your favorite character but I didn’t find that I disliked any one character greatly, so if you’re stuck using an Awesomenaut you aren’t familiar with it won’t be the end of the world.
Earning money within each match is the key to upgrading your abilities. Each character will be able to unlock two special abilities along with a number of other upgrades to health, damage and speed among others. Modifiers and upgrades can also be applied to your abilities but buying everything will take you a while so you’ll have to pick and choose, in each round, based on your play style. Outside of each game you earn experience that will unlock additional abilities for each character that you can setup in a loadout and make them available for purchase inside the game. I really liked that Awesomenauts had progression both inside of the battle, and out.
One issue I did have is that there isn’t a huge number of characters to choose from. Only three will be available when you start, with a few others being unlocked as you progress. Stategies can become a little stale because of this and it also makes it more likely that your favorite Awesomenaut will be in use when you jump into a game. On the flip side, Ronimo have addressed one of the peeves I have with other MOBA’s by having multiple maps. While each map may not look drastically different, the environmental hazards and native enemies are quite different in each. Not to mention the path you take between each turret. Some maps offer hiding places and others offer traps you can spring on your enemies. Awesomenauts is chaotic and fun, I challenge you to not have a good time.
While a single player practice mode is available, so you can battle against CPU bots, Awesomenauts was meant to be played online. The matchmaking system is speedy, even on day one, and I didn’t experience any lag issues. Teamwork is key as you’ll have to cover multiple routes into your base and back up your teammates. Multiplayer is the crux of any MOBA and Awesomenauts pulls it off like it’s no big deal.
Awesomenauts solves the puzzle of how to bring a MOBA to consoles with clever design, solid gameplay and fantastic balancing. This is the type of game that can bring out the competitive side of even the most docile gamer in a hurry. The progression system will keep things fresh and interesting and the action will suck anyone in. I dare you to not get hooked on Awesomenauts.