Ronimo's DOTA inspired 2D tactical shooter has an addictive gameplay formula and a charming cartoon styling, but is marred by a few minor niggles
Posted by Matthew Sawrey (matski53) on May 7, 2012 - 8:22pm EST (May 7, 2012 20:22)
Dutch developers Ronimo Games are quickly becoming the masters of splicing disparate genres into uniquely addictive combinations. Their previous successful fusions, de Blob and Swords & Soldiers, managed to disguise a colourful puzzler underneath a monochromatic platformer, as well as bring the RTS genre into a 2 dimensional side-scrolling perspective. With their latest title, Awesomenauts, they have deconstructed the burgeoning MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre, combined it with a 2D platforming shooter and re-assembled it with a surprising amount of tactical nuance and RPG style levelling. It’s another complex equation, but one that Ronimo just about manages to pull off with a healthy mixture of accessibility and depth.
Awesomenauts has a single game type that can be played online or locally via split screen multiplayer. It pits two teams of 3 players against each other in a race to destroy the opposition’s planetary mining base. Blocking your way are a number of AI fortified turrets, a steady stream of tower defense style creeper bots and those 3 player controlled adversaries. Much like its fellow MOBA inspirations, Defense of the Ancients and League of Legends, you take charge of a single hero and attack the enemy’s structures whilst defending your own in a tug of war exchange of bullets and bombs.
These heroes consist of archetypal character classes moulded around some interesting cartoon designs – there’s the cigar chomping dynamite wielding explosives expert, Sheriff Lonestar, the floating cloaked brain in a jar healer, Voltar, and the stealthy chameleon who can blend into the background, Leon. It’s as if the cast of Team Fortress had wandered into a Saturday morning children’s show and been partially anthropomorphised. The whole visual design has something of the Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid about its styling too, with bright bold outlines and colours all making for a rather charming package.
Each character’s accessible tools and attributes are customizable in a pre-match load out screen and upgradable during battles through the micro-economy of a currency named ‘Solar’ (a precious liquid metal). Solar is automatically generated over time, collected from each stage and awarded for felling an opponent. It forms a major tactical component of skirmishes as your choice of upgrades can strongly affect the progression of events: you might want to invest in the range of your primary weapon, the ability to heal your teammates, or an attack that steals health off opponents, depending upon your current predicament. This all ensures that matches remain fresh and interesting throughout their length as some can easily extend into hour long skirmishes should evenly matched teams clash.