Look, the likelihood of a bona fide Romeroesque zombie takeover is slightly smaller than your odds of being struck by lightning, winning the lottery, or even being a victim of a terrorist attack. But forewarned is forearmed. Understanding the threat of hordes of the undead striking your village, town or city is the prerequisite for preparation.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, however. Two applications for the iPhone and iPod touch purport to offer lifesaving information and utilities in the event of a Zombocalypse, but each comes up short in key respects. At best, both apps should be treated as entertainments, nothing more.
Illustrated Zombie Survival Guide includes some very basic tips about fending off a zombie attack. Kenyeres notes, for example, that the slightest scratch or bite from one of the walking dead guarantees infection and demise within 12 hours. He also offers some fairly rudimentary self-defense tips that would seem to work as well against an FBI siege as they would against a zombie onslaught.
The Illustrated Zombie Survival Guide also offers a 10-question, timed exam that purports to test your knowledge of zombie survival skills. A passing grade earns the student a certificate, which you can save to your handheld’s photo album (I passed the test with a 7 out of 10, and I would dispute some of the answers.) But Kenyeres’s cartoonish illustrations undermine the seriousness of his project.
Even less serious is the Zombie Survival Kit by Sperensis. Anyone who uses this app to survive a zombie attack doesn’t have a brain worth feasting on. Instead, this app offers some zombie-themed amusements that might help pass the time when the undead day of reckoning arrives. Zombie Survival Kit features a “zombie translator,” which offers common phrases in zombie; a zombie song maker, which lets you mix zombie groans and grunts with some funky beats; a “zombie insulter,” that may also work on the living; “hypnotic zombie,” which works best with your volume turned all the way up; and “cube game,” which has nothing to do with zombies at all and requires an Internet connection to work.
I assume that when the Zombie Apocalypse does arrive, phone and Wi-Fi service will be spotty. So I don’t understand why I need a 3G, EDGE, or Wi-Fi connection to play a lousy cube game as I kill time between mowing down waves of the undead with my arsenal of pistols, shotguns and chain saws. But I suppose that’s a minor quibble.
Genuine zombiephiles may turn up their noses at these apps, which would profit from a potentially real if far-fetched threat. But these apps will provide no shortage of amusement for the less serious, more macabre-minded among us.
Illustrated Zombie Survival Guide is compatible with any iPhone or second-generation iPod touch running the iPhone 2.2.1 software update. Zombie Survival Kit works on any iPhone or iPod touch with the iPhone 2.x update.
[Ben Boychuk is a columnist and freelance writer in Rialto, Calif. Feel free to e-mail him.]