RunMan: Race Around the World, by Tom Sennett and Matt Thorson, is a full-fledged follow-up to the RunMan series of speed-centric platform games. You control the titular RunMan who's really, really good at running. He's so good, in fact, he's entered a race to run around the world. Too bad everybody else quit when he showed up. RunMan is also an HonorableMan, however, and before he'll accept the winner's crown, he's going to earn it by running around the world on his own two little yellow feet.
RunMan is all about one thing: speed. If you slow down, you're doing it wrong. To get RunMan going, simply hold down the [right] arrow key. As the landscape slides by in a blur, tap [X] to leap over obstacles and avoid enemies. You also have a nifty Zoom command that gives you extra speed along with the ability to smash enemies and bounce off walls, both useful for keeping your momentum going and performing some neat tricks in the process.
RunMan is also about another thing: points. To get more points, you need to be both fast and thorough. While dashing across the varied countrysides, you'll see enemies and balloons, both of which are begging to be smashed. Popped balloons and felled enemies figure into your score, as does how fast you completed each stage. Sure, you can dash through each level and ignore everything you see, but you're also rewarded for going back and playing through stages. You can even race against your own ghost!
Levels are tied together by a world map that eventually leads you to an epic boss stage. Instead of locking horns with a huge baddie, you're running away from one. The same principals you mastered in the other stages still apply, only now one thing has changed: you can die. In other stages, whenever RunMan smacks into an enemy, you simply lose some speed and maybe a few points. Falling into chasms isn't a problem, either, as you simply hop back up and keep on your merry, running way. If you touch a boss, on the other hand, it's back to the start of the stage. Fear not, though, as you can retry as many times as you have the patience to do so!
Analysis: RunMan: Race Around the World was designed for the casual player. No deaths, infinite lives, and progressing to the next stage is a simple matter of dashing through a stage. Most of the levels don't present much of a challenge, either. That is, unless you want one. Sprinting through the entire game isn't all RunMan has to offer. Sprinting through the entire game while popping balloons and exploring stages, is.
There's a decent amount of content to enjoy in RunMan, including over 35 levels spread across six unique zones. You can even unlock hidden characters ("and probably some other stuff", the website teases) by collecting medals throughout the stages. Grabbing those medals is good incentive to go back and play levels more than once.
Old school gamers will immediately tie RunMan's gameplay to a favorite franchise from two decades ago: Sonic the Hedgehog. That little bit of nostalgia will induce more than a few "OMGTHISISFUN" moments, especially when you run into neat new things like the hanglider!
RunMan: Race Around the World is one of those rare games that dispenses the kind of fun video games were meant to. Enjoy it for its simplicity, enjoy it for its wackiness, enjoy it for the smiling mountains and bluegrass soundtrack. Or just enjoy the heck out of it because it's there!
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