by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on X360
There just aren’t enough games that take huge robots, jet-packing monkeys, and space cowboys, and throw them onto the same battlefield. Thankfully, Ronimo Games’ Awesomenauts does just that. In a world where video games are evolving from pure entertainment to vehicles for emotional depth and complex stories, often times the pure “fun” of games past seem like a lost art. That isn’t an issue here. Nobody will ever accuse this game of taking itself too seriously, and the game is all the better for it. Somehow this love-child of League of Legends, Rayman Origins, and Saturday morning cartoons brings everything together into a more-or-less solid package.
The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre, or MOBA, is one that is exploding right now, yet Awesomenauts is one of just a few chances that console gamers have had to try it out. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, MOBA titles are a bit different from other multiplayer games. The objective is not to rack up a certain number of kills. Instead, each team starts on a base in a different part of the map. From there, automated unites march towards the enemy base, where the two factions inevitably clash into a stalemate. The role of the player is to take control of a special character and clear the path for their army to reach the enemy’s base.
While MOBA games can be anything from brawlers to first-person shooters, Awesomenauts creates a unique experience by being a 2d side-scroller. On first glance one could be forgiven for thinking that the game is some sort of expansion to Rayman Origins. Characters can move left, right, and jump, and the world is beautifully created with a hand-drawn appearance. While it would seem that being 2d would dumb things down a bit too much, I found it to strike a good balance between being enjoyably simple and providing enough maneuverability and combat options to keep things from getting stale.
The general thematic style, greatly influenced by the visuals and 2d layout, are one of my favorite parts of the game. I grew up in the early 90s watching all of the awesome cartoons that the world created before we were worried about trying to make everything educational. While playing this, I was brought back to those days. The characters could (and totally should) have their own show, and the theme song would be right at home among that of the Thundercats, Captain Planet, and the rest. The style works.
With the game’s over-the-top style, the characters are definitely a highlight that embrace the crazy. Each one has a distinct visual style that bleeds personality. The only unfortunate part is that there are only six of them. The possibilities for characters in a world like this are endless, and I would have loved to see the roster somewhere in the 10-15 character range.
Fun core gameplay, beautiful art style, interesting and unique characters.
Very limited characters and maps, a few balance problems, only one game mode.