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RunMan: Race Around the World - Indie Game Review

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Sonic, eat your heart out.

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    Fast-Paced 2D Platformer - RunMan: Race Around the World Review

    RunMan: Race Around the World 

    It never ceases to amaze me just how impressive indie developers can be. I first played RunMan: Race Around the World shortly after it launched nearly two years ago. Since then, I've found myself playing it every so often, and enjoying it greatly every single time. Some people will say that RunMan takes the Sonic the Hedgehog formula and perfects it. Others will say it takes said formula and makes it relevant. I strongly believe that RunMan grabs the Sonic formula by the throat and makes it its own.

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    RunMan: Race Around the World Gameplay

    Sonic chose to ignore this race because he knew RunMan would be there. 

    You play as RunMan, the titular character and one speedy dude. A race aound the world has been set up, and various contestants have entered. Upon witnessing RunMan, however, they all flee the scene. So our hero takes off, to run the race on his own. As RunMan, it is your job to tackle each of the game's six zones, each with its own set of varied levels.

    Like Sonic, RunMan requires you to race through its multiple stages, with a major emphasis on speed. And that's where the similarites end, really. There are no loop-de-loops here. There aren't any power-ups. And there isn't any emphasis on exploration for secret paths. RunMan is a fast-paced platformer, but unlike Sonic, you're racing as fast as you can, knocking over bad guys by running into them, and wall jumping like crazy to navigate certain areas within levels and reach great heights. By hitting the dash button, you can run right through enemies and stone walls. There are, however, baddies that slow you down upon touching them, and fiery walls that will knock you back, so the challenge lies in figuring out just how to approach the levels.

    In order to succeed, you do more than simply race through levels--you get around hazards and time jumps properly. There's no penalty for going down pitfalls. Instead, you are just launched back into the level. This keeps the game going and keeps things from getting frustrating. At the end of each zone, you will take part in a boss race. These are especially challenging, and they require perfectly timed jumps and a constantly high running speed.

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    RunMan is one speedy dude. 

    RunMan has possibly one of the greatest, most compatible control schemes I've ever had the joy of experiencing. Everything is very simple, with intuitive actions for running left, running right, jumping, dashing, and falling downward. But one thing I've noticed with games in the past is that they often feel better when played with a specific controller. The keyboard is good for some PC games, while traditional gamepads work better with others. Over the course of the past two years, I've played RunMan using the keyboard, a Logitech controller, and an Xbox 360 controller, and they all work equally well. There is literally no wrong way to play RunMan, which makes the game even easier to love.

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    The star-shaped racer can break through walls and take out enemies on the fly. 

    Developers Tom Sennett and Matt Thorson have sculpted a beautiful world for RunMan to run through. The entire game has a picturesque Microsoft Paint graphical style that's cheerful and effective. Everything--and I mean absolutely every single little thing--looks brilliant. The game bleeds pure indie charm, and you'd have to be a cold-hearted minion of Satan to find fault in the game's art style.

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    Boss races are extremely challenging ... and fun. 

    To accompany the game's perfect art style is a great soundtrack consisting of old blues and folk songs. These tracks blend surprisingly well with the action onscreen, and they're a perfect fit for the fast-paced antics of the titular racer. You can easily turn off the game's music and use your own custom soundtrack, but after experimenting with this method, I found myself missing the game's cheery music.

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    Overall Score

    You can probably get through RunMan's six zones in one sitting, and because the game is so addictive, you probably will. Even after you've played through the entire game, however, you're encouraged to play through stages all over again and attain gold medals. The challenge here alone will keep you playing for a long time, but the sheer enjoyment you can squeeze out of this colorful game will have you returning back for more numerous times.

    To call RunMan: Race Around the World a Sonic clone would be utter blasphemy. Not because Sonic is bad or anything of that nature, but because this glorious indie gem is a game of its own with its own take on speedy platforming and nearly flawless execution. RunMan has been available for two years, and if you have yet to play it, you've been missing out this entire time.

    Download RunMan: Race Around the World this very instant and enjoy it for what it is: a stylish, kick-ass side-scroller.

    Oh, and don't be cheap. Donate some money to these developers. They definitely deserve it for making this awesome game.