I'll be honest, I hate Sonic. His games are one-dimensional and void of challenge; about the only thing they get right is their iconic cheery atmosphere. That, and the smug hedgehog's sense of speed. Because of these redeeming features there exists a subset of diehard fans that clings to the franchise, debilitating flaws and all. RunMan is what Sonic should have been -- a gamer's game. A game that gives you the same sense of speed as the Blue Blur, but also gives you engaging and fluid controls against a slew of superbly designed levels. A game that tests you, in the old-school way you grew up with and grew fond of. A game that's actually fun (and then some). The game you're envisioning right now most likely doesn't have blues, jazz, and other out of copyright tunes as a soundtrack, but yep, it's got that too.
RunMan has bright, cheery, and delightfully crude graphics that look like they were painstakingly made in MS Paint. The cartoony sprites and background take a page out of Mario's book by imposing smiley faces on anything and everything. This of course creates an odd rift between the game's sights and sound; a clashing juxtaposition of new and old culture. It doesn't make much sense, but it's an interesting mix. There is some semblance of a story behind all of this, but of course like most platformers it doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that RunMan does as his name implies, and does it well. The first two worlds ease you into the game and are low on difficulty. Obtaining a blistering pace isn't hard to accomplish in the early levels, and is extremely gratifying. Imagine having the same level of control as you do in N in a sidescroller setting. No mindlessly holding right in loop-de-loops here. RunMan emulates Yoshi's Island in terms of difficulty, given that with enough patience anyone can finish the game. You can't die in normal levels: Enemies only slow you down, and when you fall in a bottomless chasm it'll spit you back out. (Sonic attempted this half-assedly with its ring system.) Yoshi's game tacked on difficulty with arbitrary trinket collecting, but thankfully Runman takes a different approach that ties closely to the game's hook: speed.
Simply finishing a level isn't enough; to truly master it and earn medals you must beat it within a set time limit. To do so you have to react quickly and get the pattern recognition down -- again, the N comparison seems apt. Your reward is the blissful zen of maximum velocity, the act of gracefully propelling yourself to and fro across the course. It's a lot of fun. The difficulty ramps up nicely across the six worlds, slowly introducing new obstacles as you go. The only hitch occurs at the end of each realm, during your race with the 'boss' characters. Think of them as forced-scrolling areas, where one mistake leads to a death and an annoying restart. It's the only part of the game that forces you to be fast, which may put off some of the less-skilled players. Anyone who's scooping up medals shouldn't have a problem, though.
If you're a Sonic fan and want to relive that feeling of unbridled speed, check the game out and give the first few worlds a spin. If you're a platforming nut you'll love this, occasional frustrating sections and all. Personally, this is the most fun I've had with a platformer since Spelunky. I can't muster higher praise than that.