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The multiplayer online battle arena genre, or MOBA, has completely passed me by. I have zero experience in the realm, having never played a game like League of Legends or any of the others. When I heard of Awesomenauts, a game bringing that type of gameplay to a console, I jumped at the chance to play. After all, I might as well try something new, lest I continue to be horribly misinformed.
Unfortunately, I found myself wondering what the point of the game was.
Don’t get me wrong, Awesomenauts is a fun game. The 2D shooter action is fast and frenzied, the ability to level up and gain new powers gives me more reason to play, and the constant struggle to take out the enemy’s base makes for some entertaining online matches. However, and this may be a slight on genre as a whole, but after a while I just didn’t want to play anymore. I had my fill, as it were, and I was ready to move onto something else. I was hoping Awesomenauts would give me a reason to want to venture into more MOBA games. Instead, I’m thinking that genre just isn’t for me.
This particular game reminds me of an 80’s cartoon, completely with a cheesy intro movie and plenty of colorful characters to enjoy. There’s Lonestar the rootin’ tootin’ cowboy, Leon the French chameleon assassin, and Froggy G the frog who looks like he belongs in a Grandmaster Flash video. Each character has their own attacks and abilities, and as matches are completed they can be upgraded to be even more powerful.
Battles take place on a large 2D plane with two major strategic points: the turrents protecting the opposing base, and the drill inside the base. The primary target is the drill, and I had to fight through the turrets and the opposing team to get through it. When I started my first match, the gameplay reminded me of NES-era Mega Man: jumping, shooting, and collecting power-ups. As I progressed, I realized that I’d need to be a little more strategic in my plan of attack than I ever was as the Blue Bomber. Dying meant I would lose access to some upgrades AND the enemy would pick up Solar (the in-game currency) to buy their own power-ups. I couldn’t just rush in all bull-headed, I needed to think about what I wanted to do. That’s the beauty of Awesomenauts: for all of its constant craziness, there is a constant strategy for winning that must be followed.
While I did have fun during my first handful of Awesomenauts battles, I found myself quickly growing tired of it. I just didn’t see a reason to keep playing. I knew I could keep leveling up my characters, I knew there would be plenty of matches online to join, I knew it all…and yet I still didn’t want to play. I can’t blame Awesomenauts for it, I feel as though it’s indicative of the entire genre. I’m the type of gamer that NEEDS a story to be told, that relishes a big reveal or plot twist. For me, story and narrative are one of the biggest aspects in games, and while there may be an over-arcing plot in games like Awesomenauts and League of Legends, the fact that I don’t get to see any of it rather than intro movies and victory screens is a bit of a letdown. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think MOBAs are for me.
That being said, I did enjoy my time with Awesomenauts. I liked the fast combat and flashy colors of the matches I did play. However, for a game that could have served as an ambassador for an entire genre, especially for console-centric gamers like myself, Awesomenauts did not live up to its potential. This could have been the game to establish a new favorite genre for me. Instead, because of Awesomenauts I can now say “been there, done that, not for me.”
If you’re the type that loves MOBAs, then maybe you’ll find more enjoyment in Awesomenauts than I did. Otherwise, this isn’t the game to make you a MOBA maniac. It’ll just solidify the fact that the genre isn’t for you.