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Indie Nation #38: RunMan's Monster Fracas

6:20 PM on 10.31.2008 // Anthony Burch

In retrospect, I probably should have saved last week’s Indie Nation, Cottage of Doom, for today. Then again, I forgot today was Halloween until this morning, when I decided to dress up as Tim from Braid (this involves wearing a suit and jogging backwards a lot).

RunMan’s Monster Fracas is a beautifully simple game. The premise is incredibly simple -- run away from a Monster -- but surprisingly fun and addictive, given its great controls, fluid animation, and the sheer fun inherent in being chased. While exhibiting neither the mechanical nor artistic depth of many other Indie Nation titles, RunMan’s Monster Fracas is straightforward, undistilled fun.

Get the game for free here, or hit the jump for more of my thoughts on it.

The first thing that endeared RMF to me is the fact that its title includes the word “fracas.”

The second thing was the graphics. Though they look lazy and ugly in screenshots, the game is gorgeous in motion; the MS Paint-esque main character is animated with such care and fluidity that it becomes a joy just to watch him cycle through his various jumping animations. The titular monster, who only seems to have two frames of animation (“OM” and “NOM”), visually contrasts with the RunMan.

But that’s all aesthetic stuff. Irrelevant. What’s truly worthwhile about RunMan’s Monster Fracas, and what makes it so fun, is the elegance of its chase gameplay. By jumping over obstacles and sliding down slopes to gain speed, the game almost feels like a 2D, simplified Mirror’s Edge. That may sound ridiculous, and it kind of is, but RunMan’s Monster Fracas’s gameplay is just as focused on building a sense of momentum as the game whose demo you’ve probably been replaying over and over today. Every downward slope is a speed boost, every obstacle holds the potential to screw up your acceleration.

That said, the Monster speed, especially in relation to your own, can be a double-edged sword. The entire first section of the game is way too easy: so long as you don’t run into every obstacle you see, you’ll build up enough speed that the Monster will be roughly a mile behind you. The game only gets legitimately challenging once the sun sets and the Monster’s speed increases, along with the obstacle frequency. Rather than feeling like a constantly exhilarating chase with the Monster right behind RunMan, perpetually at the ready to gobble him up should the player make one mistake too many, you’ll probably spend around 80% of the game with the Monster nowhere to be found. That is, until the game turns to night and, whether due to boredom or carelessness, you hit a couple of obstacles and spend the remaining 20% of the game with the Monster a few inches behind you. That 20% will be sphincter-tighteningly intense, and I wish the rest of the game had a difficulty curve to match the pacing of that 20%, but considering the game’s simplicity, accessibility, and addictiveness, it’s an easily forgivable flaw.

It won’t change your life, but you might be surprised to see yourself playing a quick round of RunMan’s Monster Fracas in those oh-so-frequent moments when you want to play a game, but don’t have time to load anything terribly complex or resource-intensive. If you’re waiting for the bus or for something to finish downloading, RunMan’s Monster Fracas might be an entertaining way to fill the time.

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