26 April 2010

Run, man!

The Summer of Freedom is nearly upon me! Another year teaching under my proverbial belt, a shiny new master's degree to add to my portfolio, no summer job awaiting, and the finale of LOST far behind me. With that in mind, I mean for the Summer of Freedom to be rich in literacy. I want to read more and write more, especially here. I want to play more games.

In an effort to fulfill this need, I have started writing for IndieReview.tk. It's a small operation at present but I'm glad to get in on the ground level and have a little professional, if voluntary, work to show. My first review is for RunMan: Race Around the World, a wonderful little game released last year. Check it out!


I have fond memories from my youth of blue hedgehogs going very fast. Then there was a fox with multiple tails and a red thing with big fists. Also, a bald man in various, strange-looking space craft with a pension for destroying small animals. Chili dogs have also somehow worked their way into that memory.

While comparisons with the classic Sonic games cannot be avoided, they are not entirely fair. Whereas Sonic was essentially a platformer with a few speedy twists and turns and loops here or there, Runman is strictly about running. Runman cannot die, excepting boss fights. He simply gets set back or jumps out of the precipice you just put him in. I love this approach because it makes the game more forgiving and the faster, uncontrollable parts less aggravating. They are, however, aggravating.

And that is my only gripe with the game: you simply want to go so fast that you can easily start to feel out of control. Oftentimes this works and the stage will carry you through many of its obstacles with only a few well timed jumps and you need never take your finger off the dash button. Other times, however, the obsession with speed steps on any platforming instincts you may have developed over the years (I have none).

Graphically, the game is brilliant in its simplicity. All of the sprites look as though they could have been rendered and designed in Paint, and they may have been. But the charm of the character design overcomes any want for richer graphics or environments. The same portends to the various worlds. Much like another classic game franchise, Super Mario, there are a set of worlds to work through, each with a varying number of stages that go with it.

The music in this game is very special as all of the songs are taken from the public domain. Most of them are classic American country or bluegrass songs which seem an odd choice at first but quickly begin to fit nicely into the overall charm of the game. If I haven't said it enough, the game is freakin' charming.  You'll want to keep going if for nothing more than the celebratory cheer of children's voices at the end of each stage. You'll want to push through to the next cut scene because it is so charming and fun. Racing around the world has never been so enjoyable.

RunMan: Race Around the World is available for download from the developers website.
http://whatareyouwait.info/ I have fond memories from my youth of blue hedgehogs going very fast. Then there was a fox with multiple tails and a red thing with big fists. Also, a bald man in various, strange-looking space craft with a pension for destroying small animals. Chili dogs have also somehow worked their way into that memory.

While comparisons with the classic Sonic games cannot be avoided, they are not entirely fair. Whereas Sonic was essentially a platformer with a few speedy twists and turns and loops here or there, Runman is strictly about running. Runman cannot die, excepting boss fights. He simply gets set back or jumps out of the precipice you just put him in. I love this approach because it makes the game more forgiving and the faster, uncontrollable parts less aggravating. They are, however, aggravating.

And that is my only gripe with the game: you simply want to go so fast that you can easily start to feel out of control. Oftentimes this works and the stage will carry you through many of its obstacles with only a few well timed jumps and you need never take your finger off the dash button. Other times, however, the obsession with speed steps on any platforming instincts you may have developed over the years (I have none).

Graphically, the game is brilliant in its simplicity. All of the sprites look as though they could have been rendered and designed in Paint, and they may have been. But the charm of the character design overcomes any want for richer graphics or environments. The same portends to the various worlds. Much like another classic game franchise, Super Mario, there are a set of worlds to work through, each with a varying number of stages that go with it.

The music in this game is very special as all of the songs are taken from the public domain. Most of them are classic American country or bluegrass songs which seem an odd choice at first but quickly begin to fit nicely into the overall charm of the game. If I haven't said it enough, the game is freakin' charming.  You'll want to keep going if for nothing more than the celebratory cheer of children's voices at the end of each stage. You'll want to push through to the next cut scene because it is so charming and fun. Racing around the world has never been so enjoyable.

RunMan: Race Around the World is available for download from the developers website.
http://whatareyouwait.info/

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