The MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre is a tough nut to crack, especially when the title attempting to do so has particularly interesting ambitions. Developer Ronimo Games, responsible for the brilliant Swords and Soldiers, approaches Awesomenauts, a DOTA-like brawler in a similar fashion – taking conventions that would ordinarily seem confusing or inaccessible to players unfamiliar with the genre and fusing them successfully with the styling of a 2-D side-scroller.
Awesomenauts pits quite the varied team against each other, with crazy cowboys, menacing robots, and killer monkeys to round out the roster, each with their own arsenal of attacks and play styles. Teams are split into 3 vs. 3 for smaller scale, easier-to-follow combat. Each player is given full control over their chosen avatar, with two different types of abilities and navigation.
For example, one particular character can sling explosive projectiles and another can heal allies. You may only choose one of each to join your team, giving you plenty of reasons to adjust and expand your strategy instead of becoming comfortable with only one soldier – you want to try and think outside the box to achieve victory.
Once you’ve become acclimated with the soldier of your choice, it’s time to get comfortable with upgrading and obtaining new abilities. An in-game currency known as Solar allows players to purchase new abilities and augments after each match. Outside of battle, XP is earned for new heroes, arenas in which you may practice, and brand new loadouts. So despite the relatively short nature of singular battles, there’s more than enough reason to keep coming back and improving.
While typical MOBAs aren’t relegated to side-scrolling “lanes” and smaller areas, and the game works quite well with this setup. Scuffles are fast-paced and frantic, with a flurry of counter-attacks and offensives launched every minute. It’s similar to watching the antics of one’s favorite Saturday morning cartoon – bursting at the seams with character and energy.
Awesomenauts’ aesthetics works well with the punchy soundtrack (each fighter carries their own theme song) and cartoony vibe – it really feels as though Ronimo Games knows the style inside and out and was able to make it jibe quite well as a MOBA. It’s crazy, silly, and still accessible even to those who have never set foot inside any type of game remotely similar to DOTA or even the lesser Monday Night Combat.
Ronimo Games continues to lead the way when it comes to creating “party”-styled versions of hit games, and Awesomenauts is no different. If you’re looking for something a little different (perhaps something for multiplayer night that Minecraft didn’t suffice for) pick up Awesomenauts and prepare to blast off – you’re in for a real treat.