RunMan: Race Around the World

By: Derek Yu

On: October 2nd, 2009

Tom Sennett and Matt Thorson’s RunMan: Race Around the World elicits a kind of primal joy in me that I was worried had left long ago. It’s just a fun game, through and through, super-injected with whimsy, full of surprising moments and fun characters who feel like old friends. You can’t ever really die, but the game is challenging enough. Still, I imagine one could get through RunMan pretty quickly by playing straight through… but it’s so enjoyable to run, bounce, swing, and fly through some of the levels that I’m more than happy to play them over and over to improve my time or collect medals.

The game’s music warrants its own paragraph. Tom Sennett is fond of using public domain jazz and bluegrass songs in his games (most notably, the original RunMan’s Monster Fracas), and they really add to the charm. I’m pretty accustomed to hearing either chiptunes or orchestral music (or occasionally metal) in games these days, and it’s refreshing to listen to something that deviates from those genres. I like sitting around on the map screen just to listen to the music.

But yeah, this is by far my favorite of Tom and Matt’s games, and possibly one of my favorite indie games of the year. I’d love to see more collaborations between them in the future, ’cause this one worked out really well. Great work!

TIGdb: Entry for RunMan: Race Around the World

  • ChevyRay

    BRING ON THE MS-PAINT HATERS BABY, ’cause this game rocks!

    Personally love the levels way more than the bosses, which despite Derek’s comment in the post, you CAN die on (although you get as many tries as you want).

    Great job, guys! :)

  • trullz

    donated before downloading. so I’m a cool gut that support cool games. might donate more when i have played it.

  • The Monster King Ren

    Finally. I’m am downloading and playing this now. If ever possible you might see $$$

  • Mischief Maker

    Yes, yes, but is it art? What is he running from? Cancer?

  • n3rrd

    I love this. I have to download it and try it. The whole seems greater than the sum of its parts.

    It kind of reminds me of a kid’s drawing. The graphics, and presentation may not be the most technically significant around, but it has heart. Haha.

    Thanks for posting about it.

  • soundofsatellites

    No, no! The question is not what’s he’s running from, is what’s he’s running *to*!


  • Bob

    This game has a slight problem.

    It eventually ends.

  • robert

    This game is absolutely wonderful. Really great work. Fantastico!

  • Danman

    @Mischief Maker – oh, yes, it’s definitely an Art Game. By making it almost impossible to die, the *auteur* of this provocative piece is subverting one of the fundamental axioms of the traditional reward/punishment praxis, and as such is challenging the player to ask “what is a game?” and “why?”. This is reinforced by the pseudo-naive design aesthetic, which again forces the player to re-examine the ludological frame of gamerhood as one of the dominant cultaral identifiers in postmodern blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda.

    Seriously, though, it’s great to see a game with such a direct and shameless emphasis on fun, without trying to be sexy or clever or whatever.

  • Trotim

    Personally, I’m looking forward to the next patch! =P

  • poop

    man I am terrible at this game but when I play it I just cant stop smiling :)

  • Mischief Maker

    Just finished it. What happened to that “Chicken, oh chicken” song from the earlier preview vids?

  • RichardJ

    Has anybody else found that it’s impossible to progress through the sign at the start? I just get a thing saying ‘Running is easy!’ with a helpful thing telling me to press X to continue. Pressing X, or any other key on my keyboard, does absolutely nothing, and I have to task manager my way out of the game. I’ve tried re-unpacking and re-downloading.

  • Paul Eres

    did you try the arrow keys?

  • Elkovsky

    Sweet life! I have been waiting for this one for quite some time. Looking forward to trying it out… I’m a huge fan of YMM’s stuff, and seeing the Tom Sennett touch is pretty cool.


    cave story ripoff guys!

  • RazputinOleander

    I hope Matt and Tom are reading this, because this game is stonking great!

    I donated some money. It’s not much.. in fact, I’m a little ashamed of how little it is. To be fair, I haven’t had a job since June, so you know I think the product is great if I’m donating money I don’t have! :D

  • Sparky

    Nice work, you guys. You obviously put a lot of love into this, and it shows.

  • name

    I have no idea why they decided to go with B-Game graphics. This game would be a lot better with pixel art and could easily convey the same thing. MS Paint graphics are just sloppy and do a huge disservice to how much of a good game this is.

  • name

    look at Yoshi’s Island for example. they really should’ve gone with something like that rather than being lazy

  • nobody2

    Pixel art is overused and more annoying to my eyes. I prefer these ms-paint graphics drawn with a shaky left hand.

    Hi-res sprite graphics and vector art is a whole lot better than those two options, though.

  • Danman

    Well, fuck it, why not do the whole thing in full 3D, then, with particle effects and dynamic lighting, and cinematic cutscenes and everything? Oh wait, because then it would be a different game.
    You might not like the MS Paint-style graphics, and I can understand why you might not, but I don’t get the impression that it’s due to laziness or lack of skill. It’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the creators, one which, in my opinion, makes the game stand out amongst a plethora of generic, derivative platformers.

  • Derek

    “Oh look, DramaSource is ganging up people who disagree again!”

    Just wanted to get that out of the way so we could move on.

  • nobody2

    Again, I’m not complaining about these graphics. I think they’re fine. But saying that this was fully an aesthetic choice is probably completely wrong. Everyone knows that low res pixel art, screen shader-molestation, and purposely bad sprite art is also done because it’s “lazier”.

    Game development has limitations, and some developers choose to limit their art. Lets not delude ourselves into believing that low-fi graphics are always done for beauty.

  • name

    “full 3D, then, with particle effects and dynamic lighting, and cinematic cutscenes and everything”

    yeah pixel art is sooo high tech. oh please

  • name

    bad art is bad art. i’m not talking about writing a renderer to display high tech 3D. the same graphics engine used to display half assed MS Paint graphics could be also used for some decent pixel art. just smooth out the outlines a bit and shade them accordingly. it’s not rocket science

  • name

    and Yoshi’s Island is far from a “plethora of generic, derivative platformer”

  • name

    and Yoshi’s Island is far from your description of a “plethora of generic, derivative platformers”

  • nobody2

    A donor-ware Yoshi’s Island is asking for way too much. There was obviously a ton of art direction and style going into that game way beyond just the quality of the graphics.

    Runman obviously is lacking both graphical quality and depth of style, but it’s mimicking a children’s mindset and a budget to match, which is why I give it a pass.

  • Danman

    @nobody2 – the reason I’m guessing that it was an aesthetic choice is that Thorson’s done several other games in a variety of styles, and the reason, I assume, he decided to work with Sennet on this one is because he liked the style of his artwork. Granted, yes, it’s a style that also has the advantage of not taking huge amounts of work to implement, but there are a bunch of other solutions to that particular problem (going super-low-res, black and white, etc), and the fact they went with this is an aesthetic choice.

    @Name – Yeah, Yoshi’s Island is an interesting example, and one which I probably should have paid more attention to when I first responded to your post. I read somewhere (Wikipedia, probably) that the reason YI looks like that is because Nintendo were pushing Miyamoto to make it look like DK Country, which was impressing everyone at the time with its graphics, and Miyamoto got pissed off with the emphasis on polish over gameplay and rebelled by redoing all the concept art in crayon. Don’t quite know who’s point of view that anecdote supports, but it’s interesting.

    Anyway, my point wasn’t that YI is derivative (although a game attempting to ape its graphical style would be, by definition). The plethora of derivative games I was referring to is the slew of indie or amateur games with boring, unadventurous sprite work. Better, in my opinion, to try something new and fail in some people’s eyes than to stick with what’s safe and been done a million times before. Isn’t that supposed to be one of the cool things about the indie scene?

  • Muz

    shut up and enjoy this game…. because i cant help but smile when im playing it :).

  • dg-studio

    funny game with funny picture. people can really make good game even though they can’t create good graphics. I think this is one of the example.

  • Derek

    Hmmm, I don’t know, @name… the RunMan art reminds me of Keith Haring:

    Fun, energetic, simple, with a consistent style. I can’t imagine telling Keith he was lazy and that he should have spent more time shading his artwork, and I can’t imagine telling Tom/Matt to do the same, either.

    Would I say Rembrandt had better technique and was a better craftsman than Haring? Yes. Would that technique have necessarily made Haring’s artwork “better”? No.

    Sometimes rough art works really well, and in this case, I think it does.

  • Farmergnome

    Awesome game guys, the art style works for me.

  • strong

    this isn’t an artgame but this game is art.

    and yeah, i think the art style works pretty well with everything else- it’s a very happy style for a very happy game.

  • Cliftor

    As someone said, Sennet and Thorson have already demonstrated the skill to do “more” in other games, so I think it’s safe to rule out lack of talent.

    More importantly, it works. I mean, it’s clean and easy to see, it’s lovable and vibrant- and the game is a blast to play. I love this game, one of the best indies of the year imo.

  • Tom Sennett

    I just have one thing to add to this discussion.

    My last name has two T’s in it! People keep messing it up, and it’s starting to get to me, man.

  • Radix

    Sennet can be your internet name.

  • Radix

    BTW your site seems to be blocked in China so I had to download it really slowly over TOR.

    Stop being an enemy of the People.

  • falsion

    this game is too happy. china does not want people to be happy. might give them the wrong ideas. you know

  • raigan

    Anyone who doesn’t like the graphical style is stupid.. it fits perfectly, it’s charming/funny, it works!

  • Danman

    @raigan – wrong, yes. Stupid, not necessarily. Some posters here have made some pretty well thought-out arguments as to why they don’t like the graphics. I still disagree with them, but I can’t say they’re stupid. I think there’s a lot of interesting discussion to be had about what the criteria are for “good” graphics in games, and I’m pleased that this game has provoked people into talking/arguing about this.

  • AmnEn

    Keep at it, maybe you can reach the Youtube-Comment Level yet! Well, comments and general forums are Tigsource’s weak spot. But it has got a saving grace, occasionally, there’ll be great informations amongst the “celebrate us” posts and every once in a while it draws attention to a great game – like this one.

    It’s a fun little game, although I can’t properly play it on my keyboard – the usual keyboard buffer problem. Luckily I’ve got my trustworthy gamepad around and will try that next.
    The look is pretty simple, that’s good in this case although slightly less jagged lines would have been better still.

  • AmnEn

    *long drawn out fart sound effect*

  • moi

    Best indie game of 2009.
    Now imagine this game with the graphics of Sonic.(Or Sonic with the gamplay of this game). It would be awesome! I’m crapping my pants right now!

  • raigan

    I guess I just consider it stupidity to not be able to see the merits of something that’s different from the usual, especially when it seems well thought-out and is put together in a targeted way that gels with the other elements in the game.

    The graphics may be MSPaint scribbles, but they’re not just random scribbles — they’re specific purposeful scribbles which work together to establish a visual style/attitude/flavour.

  • AmnEn

    Congratulations on faking me, a real feat in a system without a login. :)

  • AmnEn

    Wow, a lot of people trying to impersonate me these days. Especially comment number 47. That one almost even fooled me. Geeze…

  • Derek Yu

    Alright, let’s go there, sounds like a brilliant idea, really.

  • Davioware

    The graphics remind me heavily of yoshi’s story. Love em.