Bored of samey multiplayer games? Ronimo has the antidote. You may have attacked an enemy base before, but you've never done it as a floating laser-monkey backed up by a knife-wielding chameleon. Unless you eat a lot of cheese before bedtime, that is.
Awesomenauts takes the template of beloved PC strategy title, Defence of the Ancients, flattens it into a 2D side-scroller, and throws in a cast of colourful cartoon characters ripped from some great, lost '80s sci-fi cartoon. The setup is as simple as it gets: two groups of three players battle past a series of turrets to destroy their rival's base. But what happens next is anything but straightforward.
That's not to say its systems are complex. You collect money to unlock items from your base's shop, gradually increasing your offensive power. Destroying enemies and turrets nets you more space bucks to buy said upgrades. Dying gives your enemies a cash boost, but you can collect health orbs or shoot weak neutral critters to replenish your life bar. Turrets will chew you up unless you're wise and hang back behind the defensive shield of AI mini-bots waiting for your special attack to recharge.
Yet it soon turns into a feverish frenzy of action. The battlefields might be intricate and spacious, but you'll regularly get bursts of intense activity around each emplacement. You'll see a brain in a jar spraying health juice into a robot busy soaking up turret fire, while a dynamite-lobbing cowboy lets loose a holographic bull to push back incoming attackers. Between bases, you might seek out an acid-burping alien to farm for credits, or step on a button to launch a surprise attack from a giant worm nicked from B-movie classic Tremors.
The brilliant thing is how carefully stage-managed this madness is. Players are able to drop in and drop out of the game without any fuss, as bots fill in for any early leavers, while latecomers get extra credits to give them a fighting chance. Ronimo has promised more maps and characters in future DLC, but there's little wrong with Awesomenauts as it is. 800MP is a small price to pay for one of the smartest and most memorable multiplayer games on Xbox 360.
A bizarre but brilliant online brawler
- Gorgeous cartoon environments
- A range of weird, wonderful abilities
- Three-player split-screen support
- Cleverly constructed battle zones
- ...but there are only three of them