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PSN Review: AwesomeNauts

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AwesomeNauts Heros

When you first play AwesomeNauts, you might think you accidentally switched the channel to a Saturday-morning cartoon. With a catchy, up-beat theme song, strikingly colorful illustrations, and a brief narration of the backstory, the intro fits the formula like a glove. But don’t be deceived by first appearances. Ronimo‘s newest game is catchy enough for kids but engaging for gamers of all ages.

Who are the “AwesomeNauts”?

Fifteen hundred years into the future, the universe is still racked with violence. The year is 3587, and huge robot armies wage galactic war with each other in the endless in search of “solar,” a valuable currency and energy source. Unable to gain victory on their own, the robot armies call upon the help of the “AwesomeNauts,” a group of mercenary astronauts (and the namesake of the game), to fight what is essentially a proxy war on behalf of the robots. 

AwesomeNauts is Defined by its Genre

The gameplay in AwesomeNauts fits the description of the its genre to a T. Ronimo’s documentation calls it a “multiplayer online battle arena” (MOBA), which is referred to elsewhere as action real-time strategy (ARTS).

There are four different game modes, but they are all based on the same battle setup. Every battle is a three-on-three, objective-based fight in which each player controls one character (six are available now, but more are said to be on the way) on a symmetrical battlefield. The first team that successfully destroys the other’s base–or “solar core”–wins.

Like other ARTS games, the bases are protected by defensive turrets, and each team’s base is constantly churning out offensive, AI-controlled droids to assist in the attack.

Solar is used in the battles as a currency to buy character upgrades. Each player earns one piece of solar for every second they stay alive in the game. Pieces of solar are also scattered across the levels, and solar bonuses are awarded for various actions such as killing opposing players or destroying enemy turrets. When players have enough solar, they can run (or teleport) back to their base to buy new abilities or upgrade the ones they already have.

Triumph through Teamwork

Because battles in AwesomeNauts are objective-based, the path to victory is teamwork. While it is possible to destroy turrets and the base single-handedly, it is astronomically improbable. Without the support of teammates, the enemy can easily wipe out solitary attackers. An announcement is made whenever a turret or base is under attack, so there’s no way to covertly sneak away from the action and accomplish anything. 

Players who strike out on their own will not win.

This mandatory reliance on teamwork adds an additional element of challenge to the battles  Additionally, though the objective of every battle is the same, variations in team composition and strategy make every bout different. 

Online 2D Console Gaming at its Finest

Ronimo emphasizes that AwesomeNauts is the first 2D MOBA game for consoles, but this is overshadowed by the ingenious online matching system. If you’ve played other multiplayer games online, you are probably familiar with the frustrating wait times in the game lobby as the servers look for more players. In AwesomeNauts, there is no waiting. If there aren’t six players ready, the game adds AI-controlled bots until more players are found.

This intuitive system also handles quitters well. If a player loses connection or quits early, a bot is added until another player is found. This way, there are always three players per team.

Because the experience is so seamless, it would be nice to see other games start implementing the same features.

Enhanced Engagement with a Multi-Leveled Gaming Experience

AwesomeNauts is more than just a battle. Of course the battle is central to the game, but it is just one aspect of the excitement. From each battle, players accumulate experience which unlocks new characters, abilities, and levels.  Then, AwesomeNauts also has trophies/achievements, just like all other PlayStation and Xbox 360 games. 

While each of these aspects is entertaining in its own right, the overall quality of AwesomeNauts is magnified by the relationship among these aspects and increases the potential fan base. By creating a gaming experience that is both fun and challenging at each turn, Ronimo has produced a captivating and engaging game.

The Value Proposition

AwesomeNauts is highly entertaining, endlessly replayable, and at only $9.99 on the PSN (800 MSP for XBLA), AwesomeNauts is a great addition to any gamer’s collection.

 

T for Teen AwesomeNauts is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood and Violence. This game can also be found in the Xbox Live Arcade

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About Stephen Lee

In addition to being an awesome web developer, Stephen Lee, aka SLee, is also a video game junkie and intermittent blogger. Click here to find out how he plays so many games.