Indie Review: Awesomenauts
What do you do
when the feeling has come over you when you have two sides locked in an eternal battle that must be won, yet no side ever falters or gives way? That's right, you call in the Awesomenauts.
- Worth The Time?No.
- Things LovedThe arcade feel. The visuals. The quirkiness.
- Things HatedThe clumsiness. The lack of maps and heroes. The matchmaking.
- RecommendationFans of the MOBA genre who also enjoy platforming titles should definitely check this out.
- Name: Awesomenauts
- Genre: MOBA
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online (3 v 3)
- Platforms: PC, Xbox360, PS3
- Developer: Ronimo Games
- Publisher: dtp Entertainment
- Price: $9.99
- Reviewed On: PC
Here in sunny South Africa we’re well acquainted with the world of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, be it recent (enough) offerings such as Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends or the game mod custom map… thing, that started it all; Defense of the Ancients. The genre fits into arcade gaming quite well since every game starts off basically the same way and a single session usually lasts less than an hour.
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So it was decreed that a new game be brought to the fore, a side-scrolling platformer that teams three human players against three other human players, or even the CPU if really necessary, in order to bring the MOBA gaming genre to a slightly different audience. And that’s pretty much Awesomenauts in a nutshell.
It follows strict MOBA rules with two sides locked in constant battle, the tides of which must be turned by special heroes who may equip themselves with special items sold at a shop in their respective bases which they may teleport to if necessary. And that’s about it really. Kill things, get credits, buy things, get stronger, kill more things, win. Or lose.
As you can tell from the pictures, it’s a really colourful and vibrant game from Ronimo, and like all MOBA offerings it gets suitably frantic at times as three players take on three other players in a battle for dominance. The visuals help to make things feel alive and important, even with the arcade nature of the title.
The heroes themselves each come with standard attacks as well as a special skill, let’s call it their ultimate. While there’s not many heroes on offer (it’s an arcade title after all) the ones that I did play with showed some good synergy with their attacks and skills and were interesting enough that I could enjoy spending hours on end playing the same hero without tiring of them, but I felt a few more wouldn’t hurt either.
The game’s side-scrolling nature is my only real issue. There is a map offset to your lower left but for the most part you’re not going to know where on Earth you are and because you have the loss of isometric movement with the planes being shifted to vertical, the result is a lot of jumping around and trying to ‘land’ skills with a keyboard and mouse combination that starts to feel a little clumsy after a while. Keeping at it does make things easy but the problem with this is it’s more a case of ‘I got lucky and hit something enough to kill it,’ rather than something actually reminiscent of skill.
Your enjoyment of this game will come down to two things:
First, how much of the same thing over and over again, you can handle. Keep in mind that not only is this a MOBA offering, but it’s an arcade game which features just a handful of characters for you to choose from and a really small map that has only a few alternative variations (three in total). So you will play the same thing over and over and over again. If you like that, all the better for you.
Second, how much of a fan of platformers you are. I’m talking something the likes of Contra. You will be jumping up and down and all over the place, around your enemies as you use your mouse to point attacks in their direction, while they attempt to do the same. It might start out as fun but after a few games I couldn’t help but feel it was getting a bit much for me.
Another point that bears mention is the matchmaking system. It’s not ideal. Going online took a while as players from entirely different locations were matched together, with different skill levels, and once in a proper online match I found that even for a side-scrolling platformer, it still suffers the kind of lag that makes MOBA games dreary and unplayable. Sticking to bots was one solution, however it could have just been my awfully slow internet connection. That said, Dota 2 games average 200ms for me. So why this game was laggy, I’ve no clue.
I should probably also say that it’s clear this game not designed for MOBA addicts because one of the really big things about the MOBA genre is that it hooks you from the absolute first game and does not let go of you until you’re a mere husk of a person. In that sense it’s kind of like an arcade version of an MMO. Awesomenauts was fun and enjoyable at times but it never gripped me. It never grabbed me by the balls and sat me down and said, “you will play this game forever.” That’s what’s required of a MOBA title, and I never quite felt it here.
In all fairness, the game is still a solid offering that wants you to play it more and all of the really prominent issues could be fixed with title updates as well as downloadable content that could add in more characters and a few different maps to spice things up. There’s also a persistent levelling system for players that tracks their games and awards them for levelling up. So Awesomenauts definitely wants you to keep playing it for a very long time. The only question then, is whether or not it’s awesome enough for you.