Zombies like to lurch– in fact, they’re famous for it. But a lesser-known fact about zombies (record this in your post-apocalyptic survival notebook, it may save your life) is that they can seriously book it if they want to.
ZombieRunnerZ is a game about zombies that simply cannot cool it: They must run, run, run. They run down streets strewn with objects, pits, and traps, and you must safely guide their flight. You can jump over pits and hazards, utilize springboards and fall to earth with a great big kaboom, and dodge armored soldiers who want to put an end to your godless existence. And, like most members of the undead, you’re pretty resilient but not bulletproof: One hit will cost you your arms, and after that, it’s game over if you don’t find a health power-up.
In other words, ZombieRunnerZ is a reflex-based “auto-run” game. The object is simply to get to the end of each level without turning into a bloody streak on the road. Then you can achieve a high score, share it on Openfeint, etc. There’s also an endless “Challenge” mode that lets you run as far as your decomposed legs will carry you. It’s pretty standard stuff as far as the App Store is concerned, but a few unique design decisions help ZombieRunnerZ stand out from the horde.
Moai brains, anyone?
The controls, for starters, are tilt-based. ZombieRunnerZ’s action takes place on a 3/4 plane, which requires you to zig-zag up and down the street in order to avoid objects and collect cash. You can tilt your iPhone up to run up, down to run down, and tap the screen to jump. The tilt option works surprisingly well and is pretty responsive. It also helps that you can reset your calibration with each new level, or each time you restart the game.
ZombieRunnerZ’s graphics are another feature that complement the game. They’re cartoony and well-animated, but still suitably gross. Blood and guts fly when appropriate, and there’s something cringe-inducing about sliding on your own blood after suffering damage.
Finally, ZombieRunnerZ’s crown is its “rage” feature. You begin a level at a slow jog, but eventually kick things up to a full-out sprint. As you progress, a meter fills at the bottom of the screen. Once it’s full, you become a flailing, drooling marathon runner of the dead, and you can run into cops and soldiers to infect them with zombie-ism. Once infected, the cops and soldiers will run with you like a pack of hell-wolves, clearing some hazards and grabbing power-ups. Experiencing a zombie rage is one of those little things that makes non-life worth living.
ZombieRunnerZ is fun, cute, and pretty difficult. If you like your running games hard, this one’s for you. Heck, if you just like running games, this one’s also for you. Just remember that zombies, much like crocodiles, are not nearly as slow and stupid as they appear.