Written by Chris Stone
Category: News and Other Musings
Published: 08 May 2012
I've always (unjustly) assumed that the communities surrounding popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as League of Legends are about as receptive to outsiders as groups frequented by characters portrayed by Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. Defending lanes of ever-progressing AI drones, smashing turrets, and new-player griefing seemed to be the common threads. But why the hell are they called MOBAs anyway? Isn’t everything that is both online and competitive considered a multiplayer online battle arena?
Degrees of specificity in game genre nomenclature notwithstanding, developer Ronimo Games has hybridized the console-unfamiliar concept of the MOBA with the 90s-style 2D action game that resembles Metal Slug with a Saturday-morning cartoon motif. Think of it as team-based, multiplayer Mega Man. In fact, Capcom would be well-served to take notice, rather than murdering the Blue Bomber and all of eighty of his robot buddies.
MOBA-style games are apparently about pulling your weight for the good of your team (lest you be called something racially insensitive). Awesomenauts is more than smart about fostering teamwork – and Ronimo didn't concede to plop it out into the digital distribution ether, either. Instead, our late-twentyish, early thirtyish collective man-child brains have been treated with something familiar to teach us something foreign. The lone wolf seeking the best kill-to-death ratio at the expense of his teammates is destined to hate this game.
It is obvious that Awesomenauts respects balance (though it doesn’t quite always achieve it without incident), but it also simultaneously allows customizable loadouts that give the player freedom to add his own personal touch (or stroke his propensity to min/max everything he comes in contact with). They probably do all these things in League of Legends, but League of Legends isn’t a goddamn fake cartoon.
Outside of fighting games, competitive multiplayer games that exist on two-dimensional planes have been largely irrelevant (or non-existent). As with anything competitive, there's a certain grammar required to completely understand underlying principles.
So thank you, Awesomenauts, for teaching me how to play as part of a superhero squad and not piss off my internet friends.