17 August 2012

Should I buy the Zombies, Run! app?

Zombies, Run! -- not to be mistaken for the multitude of iOS and Android apps that have the words "zombie" and "run" in the title -- is a unique fitness app. In between songs on your exercise playlist, you get bits of a story about a city that has become overrun by zombies. You aren't a passive listener, though. You are Runner 5, someone who has been sent in to help. Before you can do anything, however, you've got to make it into the compound. As you run (or in my case, walk) you will pick up items that may be useful. When you hear "Zombies Detected", you need to pick up speed to avoid them. Get caught too many times and you will fail the mission. Once you finish your exercise session, you use the items you picked up to level up buildings in the compound. The game starts with three episodes unlocked, and you get more as you level up.

There are a lot of things to like about Zombies, Run!:

--While there are plenty of fitness apps that cater to those who enjoy earning achievements and beating their friends, this app also provides something to do while you are exercising. If you dislike exercise as much as I do, you will grab onto anything that makes it bearable.

--You use your own playlist. This is big for me because one of the Wii games I really liked, Walk It Out, started to bore me before I unlocked everything in the game because of the limited playlist. I would have finished that game if I could have added my own music.

--You can use Zombies, Run! outside or inside. Other apps record your exercise session by using GPS to track your route, so they are no good if you walk on a treadmill or if you are using a device like an iPod that doesn't have phone service. With this game you have the option of using the accelerometer, which the iPod does have, to count your steps.

--You can go at your own speed. Despite the title, you don't really have to run. As long as you speed up when the zombies start chasing you, it counts. I started at 2 mph on the treadmill and bumped it up to 3 mph when the zombie horde came after me. That may not sound like much to you, but 3 mph at my fitness level causes me to break a sweat. I still managed to evade the horde.

If there are so many things to recommend this game, then why am I hesitating to get it? Frankly, it is the $7.99 price tag. Before you reach for your mouse to click the Comment link so you can lecture me, let me save you the trouble. I do believe that creators deserve to be paid for their work. However, it is difficult to pay $7.99 for an app when the most I've paid is $2.99. I even had trouble paying that since I usually stick to free apps. Another reason for my hesitation is that I already bought the app for my daughter M. She did such a great job devoting her summer to fitness and getting rid of that "freshman 15" she gained at university that I wanted to reward her. Now I'm having trouble making myself buy the app a second time.

For those of you who don't have my spending phobia, I recommend Zombies, Run! as a way to get you off the couch or spice up your existing exercise routine. It is available for the devices you are most likely to carry on a run: iPod, iPhone, Android phone, and even Windows phone. If you get it, let me know what you think of it.

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