Awesomenauts is a colorful and competitive arena game with some light platforming that feels like you’re in an 80s cartoon. Set in the year 3587, it’s got aliens, humans, and, of course, lots of robots. You play as the Awesomenauts, who are touted as the most powerful mercenaries in the whole universe. It’s a ragtag group, but when the goal is galactic conquest, you need the best of the best. While this game isn’t necessarily the best of the best, playing as the Awesomenauts can be a whole lot of fun.
Platforms: PS3 (Version Played), Xbox 360
Publisher: DTP Entertainment
Developer: Ronimo Games
Genre: Saturday Morning Arena Explosions
Release Date: May 1, 2012 (PSN), May 2, 2012 (XBLA)
ESRB Rating: Teen
There’s not much that’s complicated about Awesomenauts. The object of the game is to destroy the other team’s space drill. You have to fight through droids and turrets and, occasionally, creeps, which are aliens that aren’t on the other team… but aren’t on your team, either. Think of them as the natives that are stuck in the middle of your silly galactic war. You can collect Solar, which acts as money, that allows you to buy unlockables and upgrades. This is scattered throughout the level and is also dropped when you kill enemies.
For those of you not familiar with this type of game, the map is a mirror image. You have to fight your way through enemies and turrets to get to the goal, which is the space drill located in their base, and destroy that. There are environmental obstacles (the turrets), enemies (Awesomenauts like you but in a different color, with their own set of droids), and pickups, like health and Solar. There’s nothing more complex than that – honestly. It’s just about destroying the other team’s base before they destroy yours.
You can play as several different characters, and each one has unique abilities and unlockables. Lonestar is a pretty generic character – he’s a human cowboy with a gun. You can unlock dynamite (which you can also upgrade) that you can throw at enemies/turrets/space drills. Leon is a melee character with a slash attack who also has an awesome tongue grab that pulls enemies closer so you can slash ‘em up. Those are the only two that are unlocked initially, but there are several more characters, including Froggy G, who has a fun, damaging tornado move, and my personal favorite, Clunk – a slow-moving robot who shoots missiles, has a life-stealing bite, and a self-damaging explosion that takes out enemies around him.
I spent most of my time playing in Practice mode, trying to hone my skills so I would be good enough to play online. I found that even that mode could be challenging – it was a long grind to build up Solar, unlock and upgrade attacks and other features (like more health, faster shooting, etc), and then an even longer grind to actually kill the turrets. Playing as characters with guns made it easier – you could hide behind your droid as the turrets focused fire on them and shoot from a distance – but if you played as Leon, it was much harder to get in there and help take the turrets out. Once I got the hang of the flow, though, I found myself tearing through the turrets quickly and moving right along to the destruction of the space drills.
There’s not really much else to the game besides that, other than online multiplayer, which is basically just a harder version of the game. Hopping into an online match can be very frustrating because you’re likely playing with people who have been avidly playing the game since launch, and they will destroy you faster than you can blink. Things can get chaotic and frustrating very quickly, but luckily, you can hold down the R1 button to teleport back to base and recharge your health.
At first, I’ll admit it: I really didn’t like the game. I spent a little time in Practice mode and then moved on to the online multiplayer and kept getting mercilessly slaughtered. So I went back and spent some time grinding it out offline, and finally I was ready to get back into the online fighting. The longer I played, and the more I got used to the characters, the more I liked the game, to the point where I found myself saying “just one more match!” The gameplay is frenetic and fun once you get the hang of it.
I don’t usually endorse games that take some time getting used to, only because I feel like that time could be spent playing games you like right from the start. But sometimes you like a game right away and dislike it after you’ve played it for a certain number of hours, and that’s even more of a disappointment. While it might be frustrating at first, you’ll find that the more time you spend with Awesomenauts, the more time you’ll want to spend with it. This may not be a ringing endorsement, but for people who are just looking for something fun to play with friends online – or in some couch co-op – Awesomenauts is a great game.
Review Disclosure: A review copy of Awesomenauts was provided by Ronimo Games for the purposes of this review.