I’ll be your pocket Voltar!

It’s a MOBA! It’s 3 vs. 3! It’s…basically Team Fortress 2 arcade?

If you’re into action platforms that involve base defense and lots of fast-paced hacking, slashing, shooting, biting and/or blowing up enemies in an attempt to gain money (solar in this case) then you should definitely check out Awesomenauts. This game was recently released by Ronimo, and despite the developer having a very small track record (only one other game which I have never heard of), Awesomenauts may be their ticket onto the casual gaming map.

Awesomenauts is both challenging and silly in its design. There are nine characters that range between a French-speaking ninja lizard, jet-pack equipped monkey with a laser, foul-mouthed alien whose bite is full of poison, and a small alien who stomps around the map in a cat-shooting robot (yes, you read that right, you shoot CATS at people!).

Much akin to TF2 or Monday Night Combat, each character varies in whether they are fast or slow, melee or long-range attack, and each has three attacks to choose from. Within each of the three maps, it is your goal to break down giant bullet-shooting turrets to enter the enemy base and destroy what I can only describe as an arcade warp core. With the help of two other players and a small army of droids the goal is simple enough but the game has the potential to be both fast-paced and slow, depending on the group of characters and how they are being played.

What makes this game so challenging is that as you are trying to discover the strengths and weaknesses of each character, and how to design your load-out so you’ll be able to do a decent amount of damage, higher-ranked players will mercilessly slaughter you. For example, there are some serious Awesomenaut players out there who have “prestiged”- meaning they have reached level 55 and then started over again at level 1 – and have been rewarded with a shiny icon next to their name so as to warn all new comers that they shouldn’t feel so bad for getting killed constantly. This is why I strongly recommend you play this game with friends and invest some time in practice with bots (at least until you got your load out figured out). Since you don’t get a say in which online server you will be joining, and likewise, what kind of players you will be battling, its best to play this game with some ‘real’ allies so that you can turn what would be a slaughter-fest, into something semi resembling strategy. My husband and I like to pair up with one of the powerful, slow moving characters (such as Clunk or Derpl) and the healing brain-bot Voltar in the hopes that we can re-live our TF2 strategy of heavy and pocket medic. I’m still not sure if it works all that great, but at least we’re maintaining the idea of support (that, and I promised in my vows that I would be a pocket-med whenever he asked for it…).

Awesomenauts requires a lot of smart tactics. While the goal for some players is to hike up their kill per death ratio as much as possible, the smartest route is to retreat instead of sacrifice so that those annoying, kill crazy players won’t get your precious solar and upgrade (only to kill you that much easier). Staying alive means not contributing to the opposing team’s resources, and if you focus on turret breaking and defense, your droids will eventually get into the opposing base and blow up their warp core. Then you can tell those stupid prestige players that despite killing you 8 times, you still beat their shiny icon butts.

Despite all this, one of the greatest perks about this relatively cheap game, that you will likely get a lot of gaming time out of, is that Ronimo is continuing to release new characters into the game (much like hats in TF2), so that current gamers can salivate over the idea of new skills and dynamic play. It’s always great to see a greatly priced game continuing to get support.
So while Awesomenauts is a simplified version of your typical MOBA, a 2D arcade game with lots of shiny colors and what initially feels like a casual action platform, chances are you’ll find yourself addicted (or maybe somewhat rage-addicted) to the challenge.

Pick up Awesomenauts for $9.99 or surprise two of your friends and buy the 3 pack for $19.98. Available on Steam, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and Playstation Network.

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About Misa Winters

I am a molecular scientist who mostly studies ancient DNA and forensic methods. While this does take up a large part of my life, I have always found the time to play as many video games as possible. Being married to a avid gamer also helps to keep the passion alive, and so I spend a lot of time playing co-op games. My other hobbies include horse-back riding, painting, and belly dancing (got to keep a fit gamer body right?)

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