Ever since a little Warcraft 3 custom map spawned a phenomenon and craze known as Defense of the Ancients, aka DotA, there have been many attempts to recreate it. The most successful has been League of Legends, and up until now, no developer has tried bringing this new found Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or, MOBA, genre to the consoles. Ronimo Games stepped up to the plate, and brought us Awesomenauts, a downloadable 2d '80s cartoon version of the MOBA genre for the Playstation3 and Xbox360. It features 6 available characters who all have their distinct look, play style and theme song. It does a great job conveying the throwback image, and the 2d character art animates nicely. The game itself even comes complete with it's own intro title song. Having a slick presentation is all well and good, but thankfully Awesomenauts also has spot on game play mechanics to complete the overall package.
The game plays out as a 3 vs. 3 team oriented race to destroy the opponents base. Players must control their character through platforming segments across the battlefield jumping and shooting at the opponents while using various power ups and grabbing health pickups.The aforementioned base also serves as a spawn point when entering the battlefield, as players are fired down in escape pods from a low orbit drop ship. Death can be frequent if you aren't a cautious player, but during this free fall through the atmosphere, you are allowed to steer your pod and collect extra points known as Solar used for your characters various upgrades. These Solar points are also acquired slowly over time, found in various places of the map, or stolen from other players upon death. The acquisition of these points are the main focus of a successful battle. As with all MOBA style games, 9 times out of 10 the winning side will be the team that upgraded the quickest and most efficiently. Because of this, some matches will seem horribly one sided. If a 3 man team truly plays well together, they will steamroll the opposition. The 6 playable characters all fill very specific roles to the team, and although a player is locked into their selection for the duration of the match, the character classes all feel balanced and useful.
Aside from the players and their base you are sent to destroy, there are large machine gun turrets and a constant stream of re-spawning attacking robots to contest with. You must break through these turrets in order to reach the base, and here is where Awesomenauts matches can last either 5 minutes or 30. It all depends on the competency of players to coordinate attacks in order to win. If a player constantly runs off to meet their maker, they won't be very successful, not to mention won't find themselves having a good time. Thankfully, the game supports 3 player split screen as well as a stable(results may vary) online mode. You can mix and match players too, so it's possible to play with a couch co-op buddy and a friend online simultaneously. It's quick and easy to jump into matches but just as easy to leave them. You can expect gamers who still care about things like leader boards to bail from a match if things aren't going their way. Thankfully this won't end your game, as the dropped players will be replaced by competent A.I. controlled bots. In fact, these bots will even fill the slots of any player not yet in the game, which means you can jump into and start a match without the time waster of waiting for a full house. This makes Awesomenauts very accessible for jump in and out gamers.
Unfortunately,with only 6 characters and 3 maps to play on, there isn't a lot of content to work with. The game itself may or may not have future downloadable content due to the company Ronimo Games financial troubles. Awesomenauts true replay value will come from how addicted one gets to this genre. The "one more game" mentality is high with this one, especially when playing with friends. It also features a level up system like the majority of our eras multiplayer games. Increasing your level unlocks characters and new skills that you equip to your loadout at the start of a match. These loadouts are what make your character of choice unique, and offer different strategies to experiment with.
Awesomenauts lacks content, but with its' low price point ($10.00) and fun multiplayer, I'd still recommend it. Bear in mind it's pretty much a multiplayer only affair, as I can guess singleplayer gamers will grow bored with it quite quickly. The action lends for a fun and fast paced 2d platforming MOBA hybrid. If that sounds promising to you then definitely check it out without hesitation. As of this writing the game is even free to download if you have a Playstation Plus subscription. This promotion will end June 5th, so you Playstation Plus members have nothing to lose. Invite your friends and take a step into what the MOBA genre is all about. I personally have never been a fan of games like DotA, but I find myself highly addicted to Awesomenauts. It has an excellent mix of old school game play and new age online multiplayer that mesh well. Now excuse me while I go play another round.