Ronimo Games are developing a reputation for delivering unique and interesting takes on existing genres. With a team comprised of developers responsible for the original de Blob PC title, the studio was born on the back of successful partnership with THQ. From this enterprising foundation Ronimo Games went on to create Swords & Soldiers, which is arguably one of the most inventive takes on the real-time strategy (RTS) genre in the past few years. Here with their latest title, Awesomenauts, Ronimo Games are attempting to bring their expertise to the field of competitive multiplayer gameplay.
Awesomenauts is a team based videogame featuring three-on-three gameplay. Selecting from the six available classes (once unlocked) players take to the battlefield with the objective of wiping out the opposing team’s core. On the way however, they will need to destroy a minimum of two turrets in order to reach said core. The turrets are highly dangerous automated foes, and so the player will have to use their automated droids – which are dispatched from near their base and march directly towards the turrets – as disposable armaments as they chip away at the turret’s health bar. This is, of course, while the opposing team is attempting to do exactly the same thing.
While that description may make Awesomenauts sound fairly simple – as in reality, that is the long-and-short of the videogame – the real tactical element comes in the form of using the different character classes. Each class has many unique attributes; it’s not a simple case of tank, long range and all-rounder. Every class has different movement, health and attack abilities, and more are unlocked as the player works their way through the level systems. In each match the player will collect Solar, which is the currency used for purchasing new abilities or upgrading existing ones, but only from those the player has unlocked for their chosen class in the overarching level system.
The structure of Awesomenauts is easy enough to understand, and once the introduction has been completed most players will be up-to-speed with the core gameplay. After the introduction level however, the only offline mode is labelled as ‘Training’, so much like the aging ShadowRun from the now defunct FASA Studios, don’t expect there to be much to Awesomenauts if you are looking for some single-player action. Taking the videogame online at this point is essentially jumping-in at the deep end, as the matchmaking system does just seem to drop you into any available match, rather than looking for opponents of equal skill level. It takes some work to get to the point where you can comfortably compete against players a dozen levels ahead of you, but that fact that most players will invest the effort to do so is noteworthy in itself.
The visual quality of Awesomenauts is clearly based on the familiar presentation of a 1980’s cartoon. There’s something a bit Bucky O’Hare about the setting, a bit Bravestarr about the character design, and something a bit Ducktales about the colour palette. Awesomenauts has clearly designed for a gamer of a certain age, though remains accessible enough for younger gamers too enjoy also. The sound quality is equally as commendable as the visual design, though is less remarkable in its presentation.
An entirely enjoyable experience, Awesomenauts’ biggest flaw is taking itself too seriously. It could be argued that for a videogame to succeed in the modern industry level systems and unlocks are required to keep gamers interested, but Awesomenauts taps into the same learning curve appreciation as titles such as Quake Arena Arcade, Counter-Strike and the aforementioned ShadowRun, all of which presented their many tactical options to the player right at the start and yet still encouraged them to play through an experience each at their own pace. In that respect, Awesomenauts feels somewhat confused as to where it fits in the online competition space, possibly deterring many potential players.