It’s true, I have found myself playing a lot of Awesomenauts lately. How I missed this little gem when it was first released, I do not know. Perhaps it had to do with the overly colorful and cutesy marketing of the trailers and screenshots. Many potential players dismissed the game as a simple kids’ title, myself included. But upon reading more about the game on various forums, I was surprised to learn that Ronimo Games had created a quite challenging and addicting entry into the Mutiplayer Online Battle Arena genre. I decided to give the game a try and downloaded it on the Xbox Live Arcade.
After a few rounds, I was absolutely hooked. Here was a very simple MOBA premise with exciting platforming elements incorporated. Imagine Defense of the Ancients or League of Legends as a platformer where all character movement and attacks are fully controlled by the player, and you have the gist of Awesomenauts. As a gamer who loves MOBAs, but is not quite adept at frantically clicking all over the place like my hand has Tourette’s, here was a game I could play comfortably with my controller. To make the the deal even more awesome, I was able to get my girlfriend (who absolutely detests games like League of Legends) to get into and actually enjoy playing the game with me. On the console version of Awesomenauts, there is a very simple couch co-op feature that allows three friends to go at it as a team. This ability to play a MOBA with your friends on the same gaming device is astounding and exciting for the genre.
And there, I believe, lies the charm of Awesomenauts, a game that takes a notoriously complicated genre and makes it accessible to all sorts of players. I mean, in what other MOBA do you do anything besides move your character around with a mouse? And what other MOBA could be mentioned int he same sentence as couch co-op? Ronimo games has really done something special here.
And to think, Awesomenauts almost never came to fruition. Shortly before the release of Awesomenuats, Ronimo Games’ German publisher, dtp entertainment filed for bankruptcy. It is hard to believe that such an important and innovative title narrowly avoided the chopping block due to publishing issues. It’s a concern that many gamers never consider or hear about, and it makes me wonder how many other amazing games never see the light of day because of some sort of financial issue or publishing concern.
And it reminds me that, if we as gamers want to continue to see fun, exciting, and genre-pushing games in our futures, we have to support the developers. Support does not just mean financial support (though that’s certainly important), but also letting developers and publishers know that the fan base is interested. It means community interaction and discussion as well as outreach. Most importantly, it means giving games outside of your comfort zone a shot. Investigation into indie games often reveals a vibrant community ready to bring you up to speed. Quite simply, gamers need to support good games.
As much as Awesomenauts is a fun game to play in its own right, I can’t help but feel that it points toward something even bigger. New concepts, when added to the MOBA genre, can really breathe new life into the games. Imagine a game like Awesomenauts with even more refined platforming, more characters and stages, and new gameplay elements. I’m excited just thinking about it, and maybe even more importantly, so are my MOBA-hating friends.
Ronimo Games should be congratulated for Awesomenauts, and the game deserves success and support. In a genre where clicking a mouse is all the rage, it is exciting and refreshing to pick up a game that can be played just as well with a controller and some platforming-savvy. Games like this should be supported and new innovations should be encouraged in all sorts of established genres. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes indie gaming so fun and exciting. Creative minds can come together to infuse their ideas with the tried and true gaming mechanics to make absolutely stellar titles.
If this piece didn’t convince you to go out and buy the game, then perhaps this trailer will.