Games such as, Defense of the Ancients and League of Legends have breathed life into what began as an optional mode in Warcraft III and turned it into a full-fledged genre. The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (or MOBA for short) has mainly been exclusive to the PC realm but Romino Games and dtp Entertainment have taken a bold step with their new game Awesomenauts. They take a MOBA game onto major consoles for the first time in a simpler manner and it does not disappoint.
Anyone old enough to remember 80´s or 90´s cartoons will feel at home with Awesomenauts. From the terrifically cheesy theme song to the graphical style of say a Megaman game, it is all here in its wonderful glory. Even though it only has three levels, the levels are intricately designed with their own follies such as a sandworm that can attack friend or foe if someone crosses paths with them. The main difference between this game and the others is the added platforming element. The levels are multi-tiered to provide various ways of attacking opponents and it also provides multiple scaling points and hidden viewpoints. For anyone not familiar with a MOBA game the premise of Awesomenauts is simple, similar to a more strategic version of “capture the flag” players attempt to destroy the other team´s base before they can destroy your base. In this MOBA there are A.I. powered turrets that protect the Mining Drill base and small A.I. controlled bots that serve as a distraction for the turrets, while the three other (either A.I. or human controlled) Awesomenauts either attack or defend the turrets and the base.
The game really has no story other than that the entire thing takes place in 3587 and someone has hired the Awesomenauts to take down each side of the warring factions. Players choose from three characters at the start, a melee combat chameleon namedLeon, a gun toting zany cowboy named Lonestar, and the rapping, splashing Amphibian named Froggy G. Each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses, and the nice thing is that when playing the game online or with two other friends locally, the characters cannot be duplicated, so it gives players a chance to familiarize themselves with each one. The characters also have their own special attacks, which are done with B and Y, while players can do their regular attack with X and jump with A. The special attacks, along with all the other upgrades are unlocked by buying them at an in-battle shop with Solar. Solar is the game´s form of currency and is littered throughout the levels. Solar is also gained by defeating enemies, turrets, bots, and most of all winning the battle (or even by losing too.)
The game also rewards players with three other characters and more weapons to unlock as they gain overall experience by completing battles. Players do gain levels in battle, but in-battle levels are reset at the end of every battle. In local and practice matches each person starts out at Level 1. When playing online, the level is adjusted depending on what levels the other players have achieved when you are dropped into a battle. The experienced gained in each battle is tallied at the end and an overall experience meter is filled. When players gain enough EXP points they will gain a level and either gain another character, better weapons, or a special upgrade. The other three unlocked Awesomenauts are well worth continuing to play rounds and rounds of the game for too. There is the destructive heavy robot Clunk, the healing alien Voltar, and the jetpack blasting monkey named Yuri. While there is an obvious bump in need for the latter three characters on a team, especially the healer Voltar, its not like Leon, Lonestar, and Froggy G become useless either. In fact, because they are quicker and have very good special attacks they can be just as special.
This is mainly because Romino games littered health pickups and a “teleport to base” function into the game, so players would learn that running is not a bad option. The game penalizes players for being gung-ho by delaying their ability to return to battle longer and longer every time they die. So, using the wise “hit-and-run” tactic is the best option because if it takes you 25 seconds to enter battle, somebody else may destroy your base by then.
The only issue I had with the game is that even though bots replace players that leave, if the host decides to rage quit anything you earned in the battle is gone. They could have at least let us had the EXP points we earned up until that point. It is made more infuriating by the fact that a lot of these battles take 20 or 30 minutes to complete. So it makes the fighting vain. This does not happen too often and it is something the development team can fix when they update the game with promised DLC characters and extra maps. Just to reiterate in case some people reading this are confused. You can play single-player practice matches against smart A.I. bots and gain experience that way. However, for those that do not like playing too much with others online, this is not the game for you. Playing online against others is the best way to hone skills and gain experience points too. The bots are unpredictable and are a good way to take a break from playing against people, but unless you have lots of friends to play locally, you must play online. There is no story mode or single-player heavy mode in Awesomenauts.
Hey, if anything, you should play the game for this awesome intro video and music:
Awesomenauts blends strategy gaming and the Saturday Morning Cartoon genre extremely well. Don´t let the childish façade fool you though; there is some great MOBA action to be had here. If anything, this game serves as a great starting point for anyone that is too intimidated to jump head first into Defense of the Ancients or even another title like Advance Wars. With the promise of more characters, maps, and other stuff it looks like the development team may have just begun bringing the fun to Awesomenauts.