Awesomenauts is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game developed by Ronimo Games. Ronimo Games, which was originally called Banana Games, were the developers behind the original de Blob before THQ bought the rights to the game, as well as the PC game Swords & Soldiers, which shares many characteristics with Awesomenauts.
At it’s core, it is simple game with the only premise being attack the enemy’s base and, if you’re lucky, destroy the drill core in the process. The MOBA title does have a small story to tie the experience together; the Awesomenauts are a band of mercenaries hired by spice miners to protect their valuable drill cores.
Awesomenauts seems to be as much about the kooky 80′s era Saturday morning cartoon art style as much as the fervent arena battles. From the eccentric characters, including a giant robot with a mohawk, an artsy girl riding a hover board, and a lizard with a french accent and laser arm to boot, to the colorful arenas that you do battle in, and the power-metal anthem that serves as the games intro, the tone of the game radiates a feel-good feeling.
As much as I want it to be though, Awesomenauts is about something else, the fight. You’ll always start the match by choosing the character that you want to play as. Each character has a specific play-style that’s just as varied as their personalities. Picking the one that meets your needs, you’re ushered in to the loadout screen where you can choose twelve power-ups to take with you in to the match that you can purchase from the in-match store. Choosing wisely is very important, as there is no way to change this after the match starts. The power-ups are purchased using Solar, the precious resource that the Awesomenauts are battling for control of. It’s gained by picking random drops throughout each of the stages or by defeating enemies.
After you’re dropped into the match, you advance steadily across the map vying for your ememy’s drill core. Along the way, however, you have to navigate through a maze worthy symmetrical map, avoiding enemies (or, killing them) and destroying the many sentry turrets placed along the way. There are always at least two sentry turrets that you’ll have to destroy before reaching your enemies base. A bit of subtle strategy is needed to win the difficult fight. Not only does the sentry turret do insane amounts of damage to your character, but you also have to defend yourself from the surge of enemy Awesomenauts who’ve been alerted to your attack. In order to get close enough to the turret to do any real damage you have to hide behind the shield of one of your droids, which your solar base pumps out faithfully. However, this strategy is more of a berserker method, because even though the droids have sheilds to hide behind they’re still shredded rather quickly by the turret, making you flee time and again only to return with your forces rebuilt.
Winning a match of Awesomenauts takes skill and teamwork. However, unless you have friends who you can party with, you’re likely going to be stuck with a bot for at least one of the two other players on your team. That was my experience anyway. Regardless, destroying an enemy drill core and hearing the power metal cry of, “Awesome!” still brings with it a sense of fulfillment and utter joy. Ronimo Games was able to bring a MOBA game that is accessible by players who are new to the genre or even new to PC games, in a market where other titles in the genre are known for their steep learning curve.
The Bottom Line: Awesomenauts combines a great art direction featuring insane characters and beautiful vibrant 2D battle arenas. Tearing down the barrier that Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game have long since had, Awesomenauts provides an experience accessible enough for someone new to the genre and just deep enough to keep the veterans around. While there are a few issues, including uneven servers and players who think it is a CoD Team Deathmatch game, it still justifies the tiny price tag by a long shot.
Nizulo rates this game 8/10
Awesomenauts is currently available for download on your Xbox 360 for 800 MSPs ($9.99 USD), Playstation 3 for $9.99 USD or free with a PS Plus subscription, or Windows PC via Steam for, you guessed it, $9.99 USD.