It's insane how much Awesomenauts has changed over the years. I remember picking it up on the PS3 and wondering when any new characters were going to come, and given the update issues developer Ronimo had, they never did. It would have been a sting to buy the PC version if it wasn't on sale every other month, and the massive amount of updates and characters weren't free.
But alas, Awesomenauts was an easy sell once the support starting rolling in, and two years later the game is still trucking with its modest Starstorm expansion. The latest update is Penny Fox, who brings the game another much needed assassin.
Awesomenauts: Penny Fox (PC)
Developer: Ronimo Games
Publisher: Ronimo Games
Release: April 10, 2014 (with Starstorm early access)
Penny Fox is billed as an assassination character with a heavy amount of punishing potential, and it shows (since Leon is my favorite 'Naut, I felt right at home). She starts off with the power to use melee attacks with her claw which is harmless enough, but after grabbing a few upgrades and core abilities she's a force to be reckoned with.
For starters, she has a straight-up dash attack called "Pounce," which lets her spring forward with a powerful attack. Her other main special is "Energy Pulse," which is a short range (initially) blast that's easy to aim, since it just effects the area right in front of her. As a passive ability, Penny can triple-jump right out of the gate.
On paper, that sounds pretty bland, right? Many characters (like Froggy G) already have a dash move or a frontal cone, so what makes her so special? Well, once you start building her out things get a lot more interesting. Penny has a core power that lets her "stock" charges after attacking enemies. You can store up to four, and it directly influences all of her powers -- including her melee attack.
For instance, you can build Penny so that after storing a certain amount of charges, she runs faster, does more base damage, or even uses a ranged attack instead of her typical melee swipe. You can also build each individual ability to your liking, and after gathering charges, unleash a massive amount of burst damage on enemies.
What I like about this setup is that it keeps you active at all times, hunting down people (or mobs, and even healing mobs) to constantly refill your meter. Sometimes you'll want to conserve it to chase after someone, lay down a few swipes to knock off some of their health, and then blow your whole meter for a powered-up ability. It takes a short while to ramp up to that point, but once you do, she becomes a highly customizable character. Heck, she can even quadruple jump with the right item.
My only problem with Penny is that aesthetically, there's not a whole lot to her, and she isn't all that exciting characteristically. She only has one significant augmentation (her claw hand), but beyond that she looks like an anthropomorphic version of Raelynn, even down to the suit design. Her two costumes consist of a hit and a miss as well -- a droll cheerleader outfit coupled with a pretty nifty "Man with No Name/Clint Eastwood" homage. It doesn't help that her voicework is fairly vanilla.
Mechanics-wise at least, Penny Fox is unique and balanced addition to the Awesomenauts meta. I'm really enjoying her foray into the game, and I'm interested in seeing where Ronimo takes her in the future.