- Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac
- Developer: Ronimo Games
- Publisher: dtp Entertainment
- Release Date: May 2, 2012
- Price: $9.99
- Official: Awesomenauts
“The less stressful Moba of the bunch”
Defense of the Ancients (Dota) and League of Legends (LoL) may be the kings of the multiplayer online battle arena (Moba) genre, but they can also be two of the most intimidating videogames out there for newcomers. The times I have chosen to play games of Dota, LoL, or Smite online it is only mere minutes before the insults, curse words, and dumb internet slang get thrown at me and my “noob” skills. For some reason the Moba genre seems to be one of the most fiercest in gaming, and because of that, one of the hardest for any interested gamer to break into. The intensity by which these “hardcore” gamers play these titles can be crazy, and they will rain down hell on any they deem “inferior” to them. Luckily in came Ronimo Games, creators of the small title Swords and Soldiers, to bring some fun into this dark Moba thing.
Awesomenauts takes the craziness of 80’s cartoons, the platforming from 90’s videogames and the Moba idea’s from today, and combines them all into an extremely enjoyable downloadable adventure. As with other titles of its kind, Awesomenauts pits two teams against each other as they attempt to infiltrate the enemies base and destroy its core. Unlike most Moba’s however, Awesomenauts is played in a 2D sidescrolling manner, and most maps only consist of two direct routes to the enemy, instead of the usual three. This change is welcome and keeps the action fast and claustrophobic, with encounters and chaos at a constant high.
The first time you boot up the game you are treated to a ridiculously stupid and awesome intro, with a great 80’s theme song that lets you know this title has a great sense of humor. After the cinematic you are quickly plopped into a tutorial that gives you the basics and the goal; this is important because a tutorial for these kinds of games is sometimes an afterthought, another barrier to entry. The smartest move however is the change to the 2D plane, this makes the game far simpler to grasp and enjoy for any gamer. After the training you are free to continue playing Practice matches against Bots or join in an online match. Awesomenauts features drop in and out gameplay, allowing matches to play out even if everybody bails. These choices all blend together to create a stress free environment, a principle the game seems to adhere too throughout.
Another smart design choice is the manner in which you level up your hero throughout a match. Gone is the usual aspect of trying to improve a skill while out in the field, and with it the massive list of armor’s, weapons, and jewelry to purchase at the local merchant. Those two facets have been combined into one easy to understand vending machine at your home base. Each character in Awesomenauts has their own selection of ability improvements and miscellaneous clothing options waiting for them in the vending machines and it makes it a fun easy process to decide how you would like to level your character. You also get to select a load out for each character, and the game saves it for easy access.
After each round of Awesomenauts you gain experience for your global level. This means after a round you get a chance of reaching your next milestone, and by doing so a chance to unlock a new character, item, or stage for use in practice mode. This frequent unlock of characters and items keeps even the act of losing matches enjoyable, and once again makes the overall feeling one of casual fun. At the start you have a choice of three Nauts to use, a rapping frog, a cowboy mercenary, and a sword wielding lizard. The characters get crazier from there with the eventual unlocks of a jetpacking monkey, a ground skittering insect, and the gangster duo of a blowfish and his tiny fedora wearing buddy saddled on his back. The universe of Awesomenauts is an exciting place.
The visual spectacle on display is also a sight to behold, with the 80’s cartoon vibe captured perfectly. Thick black lines blend perfectly with colorful designs and well animated movements as they explore the large vibrant multitiered stages. Even when there is a large robot shooting rockets, a three eyed brain healing its team and a tentacled female alien flying around on her waveboard; everything blends together perfectly. The various voice actors also do a great job bringing these characters to life, even the YouTube personalities of Simon Lane (Honeydew from Yogscast) and John Bain (total biscuit or Cynical Brit) transform into their characters perfectly.
While the game is lots of fun, that fun is unfortunately reduced for console players who may be interested in this title. While the Steam version of Awesomenauts now features 12 unlockable characters, with more to come and new skins available for each, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game only feature the original 6 Naut’s and two additional characters that have come with a free patch. With the price of uploading additional content onto the Live and PSN services, it is currently unknown if any additional Naut’s will make their way to consoles. While 8 Awesomenauts is a decent number, a large part of the fun of the game comes with unlocking additional content, and that feeling is gone much sooner on consoles. This letdown is amplified with the knowledge that Ronimo have plans to continue to release content for PC players. The costs that Microsoft and Sony currently enforce on their marketplaces will hopefully lessen next generation, because this issue has cropped up far too many times and only serves to hinder the experiences had by those who choose a console as their primary device.
Awesomenauts manages to bring the depth and teamwork inherent in Moba’s, into a world without the overly complicated parts and the rude fanbase. Ronimo has found a nice middle ground with this title, and have found a way to truly make an original title in an overly crowded market. For 360 or PS3 players this may be their first Moba, and it is the perfect entry point. For PC players who are familiar with the concept but loath the hardcore nature of the other choices, Awesomenauts is the perfect atmosphere you have been looking for. While Dota and League of Legends are the Posh Country clubs of the Moba genre, filled with self righteous snobs; Awesomenauts is the exciting fun loving local club down the street, and it is a far better place to waste a night. -Chuck
- + A perfect mix of depth and ease of use
- + Cartoon style is terrific
- + Sense of reward and progression is great
- – Console players get slightly jipped
- – Amount of stages could be improved