When it comes to the zombie apocalypse, you’ve probably got two options: fight off the undead hordes (preferably with Rambo-style weaponry, a handful of similarly well-armed buddies, and a fully stocked concrete bunker) or run like mad. (Remember, rule number one – “Cardio”) The developers of Zombies, Run! have taken the second approach to survival with a jogging app for the iPhone/iPod (coming soon to Android). With a story incorporated into an otherwise familiar style of application, this app is intended to help both the serious and uninitiated runner with their fitness. Story, simulation game, and jogging application are all merged together to entertain, encourage, and keep the runner informed without switching between different programs.
Here are the basics about this game/running app (without spoiling the story). Before you begin your jog, simply start up the application and slide the “slide to run” button. In the next menu that comes up, you will be able to choose any of your playlists and change a few settings. Then you simply walk, jog, or run while you listen to the story that will play between tracks. You can run wherever, however fast, and for as long as you want. At various points during each mission, there will be zombie encounters that force you to run faster for a certain amount of time (approximately a minute, but for an out of shape guy like the tester it seems like much longer). When you’ve finished, you get to assign items that you collect, which you grab automatically and are notified of between story segments, to different areas of your city in order to make certain buildings better. Doing this will unlock additional missions. Some of the items that you pick up will also connect you to different websites that give a deeper look into the story of Zombies, Run!
All of these elements were designed to hold your interest and encourage you to run more often, longer, and faster. Does it work? Overall, this app does a fantastic job of blending many different types of utilities together into one seamless program. While running, you find yourself anxiously waiting for the next story segment to begin or listening for what items you’ve just picked up. You’ll likely find that your desire to go running again does increase as well, mostly because you want to hear the next part of the story or gather some more supplies to level up your base. The zombie chase sequences are not as scary as we might have hoped, but they still do a good job of encouraging you to go faster. A beeping sound (think submarine sonar) lets you know if they are getting closer or further away, which can really encourage you to step it up a gear. And, when you’ve finished your run, not only will you get to assign the items you collect, but the data that it shows about pace and distance does a good job of letting you track your run (although dedicated runners may want a bit more information).
If you’re looking for a way to motivate yourself (or your teenage kids) to run more while being entertained, Zombies, Run! might be just the thing you’re looking for. At about $8 in the iTunes App Store, it is a bit on the pricey end of applications, but we think the novelty of it is well worth the money if it helps you get into or keep in shape. If you don’t have an iPhone, the Android version should be coming out within the next month or two. For more information (and for updates, as they frequently make this program better), check out the Zombies, Run! website.