I love that there are developers like Romino Games stuff like Awesomenauts. They combined 2D platforming with a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) in a way that works really well. There is enough strategy that playing smart can offset a lack of platforming skill, but those double-jumping kings can hold their own as well. While many of the traditional MOBA elements are present like turrets, creeps and bases you don’t have to worry about things like lane control so much. Because of the fast paced nature of the 2D platforming you can easily move between the top and bottom lanes as needed. The matches play 3 vs 3 and can have as many bots as needed to fill the room. There is drop in/out play so you never have to wait for your friends to finish a match to start playing with them.
There are 6 characters currently in the game and there are definitely plans to add more down the road as the character selection screen list “more coming soon.” I’m curious about what types of characters the developers have in mind to add because the ones currently in the game are quite diverse but nicely balanced. There are fast, close range melee fighters, slower ranged attackers with powerful shots, support/healing roles and even a monkey with a jet-pack and laser. I’ve been pretty impressed with the AI of the bots in the matches. They don’t play quite the same as other humans since they can’t communicate with you what they are planning, but they play pretty smart. They will work with a team and used their abilities as the opportune time to be the most helpful for the team.
The graphics have a bright, colorful look that I really have been enjoying. Each of the maps has a different layout and while the color palate is similar throughout the game each level has its own unique style. I’ve found that I really like the leveling system they implemented in the game. Each match everyone starts with a level 1 character and they level in in-match as you play. At the end of the match the experience you earn is added to your profile and used to unlock additional options for the playable characters. However, you can only access 12 of your abilities/upgrades per match. So, having the higher level abilities unlocked does not guarantee someone a better character. Using those means you have to leave out some of your characters other abilities. While higher level characters do have the advantage of knowing the maps better a new player can still jump in with a low level character and not have to worry about being over-matched.
Before playing Awesomenauts I was concerned that my lack of platforming skills would lead to me sucking at the game. I quickly found that I can setup most of the characters abilities/upgrades to suit my play style. Having played with all 6 characters a few times each I quickly found a couple that I can use pretty effectively most of the time. Since the matches only have 2 other people on my time I’ve not yet run into a time where I did not have a character to play that I liked.
One important thing to note is that Awesomenauts is not an easy game. The controls are smooth and the tutorial covers things well, but it times some time to get use to the MOBA mechanics and pace of the matches. You will want to play at least a few matches in practice mode to unlock all the charters and become familiar with the maps and mechanics of the game. Still, for $10 Awesomenauts is a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out.
A copy of Awesomenauts for Xbox 360 was provided to us for review by Ronimo Games