The MOBA (Multi-user online battle arena) genre has attracted great attention in recent years. Games like Smite, League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, and Dota 2 all follow in the footsteps of the original Warcraft 3 mod, DotA. The genre has garnered hundreds of millions of dollars and has brought esports attention to the public eye. However, those are the success stories. For each success, there’s a handful of failures, games that faltered or just didn’t quite make the cut. That’s what I’m here for, so welcome to the Lost Worlds.
Hello, readers. This week I had the opportunity to play Super Monday Night Combat. A third person MOBA created by Uber Entertainment in 2012 as a sequel to Monday Night Combat which released to great sales in 2010.
What is it? Super Monday Night Combat is set in a bloody futuristic combat sport. The player each take control of a Pro, an athlete with a variety of enhancements and tools that allow each of them to fill a certain role from offense characters who all focus on movement and getting to objectives in ways others can’t while laying down the hurt on anyone who gets in their way. Or defense characters who prefer to hunker down and hold choke points and objectives for as long as possible. The goal is to escort your robots to the enemy money ball so that they can lower its shields for you to attack it.
Building on a previous game gives you a lot of advantages in terms of development. You already have several completed character models, most of a game already built, as well as a solid aesthetic guideline That is what Super MNC, was ultimately about. Taking a game that had MOBA elements present and then converting it into a full on MOBA. This included elements like free to play. It released to mixed success in 2012, just around the time when League of Legends was getting really big. You know, that other game that has a stranglehold on the MOBA genre.
What can be said about Super MNC? There are no failings in gameplay. Most of it was farmed over from the original game so it is solid. It expands upon the ability based gameplay that MOBA players are used to by making the environment a factor. With jump pads and activatable hazards, like the ejector or the annihilator, you can pay the gold you earn from killing bots to turn the environment against the enemy. Additionally, there are map features like bot spawners and even kiosks that you can use to make yourself do more damage, heal yourself, or even give you damage resistance. There’s a number of AI controlled bots as well, with a variety of features and methods of engagement. Most just barrel down the lanes toward the enemy Moneyball. Some others actively seek out other players to eliminate. Variety is one of the strongest aspects of Super MNC and is what recommends it strongly. There are characters that you could never see in any other game. Like Leo, the literal reincarnation of Leonardo Da Vinci. Why he’s here is anyone’s guess but it’s great news that he is.
He focuses less on dealing raw damage and more on making his whole team around him better, including the AI controlled bots that are constantly walking down the lane. He rolls around on his globe-shaped unicycle using his Mona Laser (I am not making this up) to melt face and charge up a large healing field around him as he deals damage.
However, there are still plenty of factors that drive me away from Super MNC. Like its aesthetic. The concept of a banal future combat sport with heavy science fiction elements was initially fascinating to me the, however, the instant I was exposed to it the interest soured. What I thought would be colorful and inviting was far more dystopian and banal than I had expected. The characters, while unique, one of the characters is literally the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci, and very distinct from each other still feel uninspired because of their lack of interaction with each other. Much of the world’s characterization comes from the announcers, GG Stacks and Chip Valvano. The announcers have a great back and forth during the game and try to bring levity as the game progresses. Though most of this is on the topic of their divorces. When not talking about ex-spouses they also poke fun at all of the reprehensible activities that go on in professional sports, philandering, out and out cheating, use of illicit performance-enhancing drugs and so on. However, this narrative has definitely failed to age well despite only being four years old.
It is a shame that such an excellent setting and characters slipped through the cracks. Super MNC retains a tiny player base to this day, though that is all that remains. The developers have long since abandoned the project and the free pro rotation remains locked in place. Super MNC remains as a good idea, with the excellent execution just coming in too late and having to compete with one of the biggest games on the planet. Rest in peace.
About the Author: Joshua “MajorMineral” Sharp is a writer, blogger and aspiring Pokémon Master. You can follow him on Twitter @josharpicus. You can even see his blog where he complains about comic books and video games here: princeofinhumanity.tumblr.com