Awesomenauts review for PSN, XBLA

Platform: PSN
Also On: XBLA
Publisher: DTP Entertainment
Developer: Ronimo Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-6
Online: Yes

Awesomenauts is a multiplayer online battle arena title (MOBA) from the developers of Ronimo Games, the fine folks behind Swords & Soldiers on a variety of platforms in the past. It?s scary to think that this game almost didn?t release due to the financial problems of publisher DTP Entertainment, because Awesomenauts is actually a pretty great 2D MOBA title, something that?s sorely lacking on consoles at the moment.

The gameplay revolves around six selectable characters, each with their own skills and abilities to help set them apart from one another. The motif of the entire game is meant to resemble something similar to old-school 80?s Saturday morning cartoons like Bucky O?Hare, C.O.P.S. and so on. You could totally see a toy line of these characters popping up two decades ago, and I think the developers really nailed that aesthetic here.

Awesomenauts is pretty much a multiplayer affair, pitting teams of three against each other on a handful of maps. These maps have a number of points to defend for each team, highlighted by turrets that will fire back at enemy forces attempting to destroy them. The first team that successfully breaches a base and destroys the opposing team?s drill wins the match. Besides the characters you and your teammate?s control, a number of robotic friendlies will advance from your base at intervals to aid in the attack. These robots also act as temporary shields against turret fire, and an effective strategy is staying behind your robotic friends in order to not get annihilated by enemy turrets.

Of course the other team is trying to do the same thing, and the whole mess becomes a battle of attrition, constantly pushing the line and attempting to put one over on your foes every chance you get. To help keep things from become stale, there?s in-game currency dubbed Solar that allows you to buy upgrades for your character through a store front near your spawn point. These upgrades are your key to victory, and knowing what to use and when to use it will make all the difference in a fight. Effective teamwork is also important, and you?ll quickly notice the difference between playing against groups of random players, and dedicated teams actually communicating with one another.

At its core Awesomenauts concept is simple enough, and certainly something that?s been seen in a number of PC releases, but MOBA style games haven?t made any real impact on consoles as of yet. Awesomenauts is certainly a step in the right direction though, and I found it to be incredibly addictive. It helps that the game seems to have little to no connection issues that I found, I never had any trouble finding a match and never experienced any serious lag or connection drops.

The six characters introduced here are all pretty much fun to play, and while it?s a bit early to see how balanced they?ll end up being, I found myself pretty viable with just about any of them. I have my favorites, sure, but I could jump into a match with most of the roster and figure out the basics of what made them work without much trouble. There?s some thought that the sole healer class is a little overpowered at the moment, but I?ve already seen some effective strategies on shutting him down.

Overall I think Awesomenauts is a really solid, fun take on a genre that hasn?t seen much face time on consoles. I really hope that despite the issues with the publisher Ronimo has a chance to support the game with future DLC, because it?s a title that could easily be built off of for months to come. It?s a game that definitely warrants the awesome part of its title, and even if you?ve never jumped into MOBA games before, Awesomenauts makes a pretty good place to start.

Grade: A-