The history of the MOBA genre is infamous for being difficult and inaccessible, thanks in part to an angry community and too many characters to choose from. I’ve heard more than a few stories about people playing a single game and never coming back. Smashmuck Champions minimizes all of that, making the goals more readily achievable and the characters easier to control. This is a game that takes the stress out of MOBA and should be massively suggested to those unable or uninterested in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Heroes of Newerth.
That’s Not All… - Of course, if it was just an “easy MOBA,” it wouldn’t be fun enough to warrant playing. The fun of that particular genre is in strategizing and learning the characters, so taking those two aspects away would not make for an entirely entertaining experience. To fill the gap left by reducing the focus on long battles with loads of objectives, the developers of Smashmuck Champions have looked towards simplifying the genre, making it more enjoyable to casual players, and they’ve managed it.
So Many Characters – There’s a lot of characters in Smashmuck, and although not all of them are massively unique, there’s an interesting backstory for each and every one of them. Each character has its own moves and voice over. In this sense, the game is very MOBA and all the better for it. Although only the most dedicated will use more than a few favourite characters, the fact that the choice is there should be celebrated.
Looking Good – The graphics for Smashmuck are more than passable – the sort of visual style that isn’t necessarily fantastic looking, but that suits the game and does its job – and look great with everything on full. If you’re looking for some influenced-by-Cryengine game, look elsewhere, other than that, enjoy the quirky art.
Given that Smashmuck seems at least loosely based upon the MOBA genre, I expected the worst from the community. It seems without the passion of a second-by-second fight for survival keeping emotions flared, people are much… well, quieter. There are people out there that will talk your ear off, but most people just want to play and be left alone. It’s better than being abused, of course, but it’s not all it could be.
Level Design – There are multiple modes to choose from, some of which are more fun than others. Most are fantastic, a few are a little dull, but you can choose which maps/game modes to participate in and that, of course, helps towards keeping you entertained. Whether you want 5v5 battles where you destroy enemy turrets or try to capture certain areas, or if you want to play the more easy-going Pluderball (a variation on Capture the Flag), the folks at Smashmuck have you covered.
Running Ads – The first time I played Smashmuck, I fell in love with the voice over. Many of the game modes have a commentator who, in classic fighting game style, narrates the match without specifically saying anything. There are some hilarious line sin there, but once you’ve played two or three matches you realize you’re going to hear the same pieces of commentary time and time and time again. That’s definitely not very amusing.
Lack of Choice – I write this negative in perhaps the most halfhearted way I’ve ever written an entry in this review structure at all. You see, Smashmuck is stuck between a rock and a hard place. MOBA fans will dismiss it as too simple, perhaps even childish (although I don’t really see the things that would lead people to say that as necessarily bad things). Non-MOBA fans will be put off by the lack of variety in the game modes and in the overwhelming amount of characters. There will be a pretty specific group that will manage to enjoy this game and play it constantly and it worries me that this might have a negative effect on the long term life of the game.
The VerdictSmashmuck Champions is a game that’s not only great fun, but it’s extremely clever as well. Like Awesomenauts, they’ve successfully managed to make a genre that is famous for being difficult to enjoy into something loaded with humour and quick action. The risk is that it’s a game for an audience that won’t ever look for it, and that’ll mean long time community prospects are fairly low. Still, for what it’s worth, it’s a great game to play today, you’ll find a game fairly easily and, chances are, you’ll enjoy it. What more is there to say?