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Why can’t Sonic games be more like Runman?

I must confess that, despite my love for Sega and platform games and all things big and glorious, I have quite a soft spot for indie games, especially of the $free.99 variety. Therefore, I was already sold when a friend brought up Runman: Race Around the World as a title worth checking out. The game, developed by Tom Sennett and Matt Thorson, has a simple enough premise: Runman, a star-like creature, enters a contest to be the fastest creature in the world; when the other inhabitants of Runman’s world see he’s signed up, they all drop out and Runman is the winner by default. However, our protagonist, not content to win on technicality, sets out to prove that he’s the fastest guy out there.

The basic premise of the game is for Runman to clear levels in a variety of locations as he races around the world. Gameplay is quite simple: players use directional keys, along with a jump and boost button, to navigate through the stages, but the sheer variety of obstacles, enemies and hazards lends to a speedy mix of play: wall-jumping to launch to higher areas, using strategically-placed balloons to take air routes, or sleeping enemies that players must slow down to pass are par for the course. Though the game has “bottomless pits,” the play mechanic bounces Runman back out at the cost of his speed–an effective solution to a problem encountered in Sonic games. Giant monsters chasing you? It’s got it. Icy terrain? It’s got it. Crazy vine-swinging antics? It’s got it.

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