• Plants vs. Zombies


  • Tower Defense


  • PopCap Games


  • PopCap Games

Release Date:

  • May 5, 2009


  • Windows, iOS, DS, Mac, PS Vita, Windows Phone, Android

Box Art Credit:

  • Wikipedia

Systems Used:

  • Several--see below

On Wikipedia:

My gaming influence, mostly focused on Nintendo, was born and raised in my uncle's old house in Baton Rouge. It's mentioned in a number of "reviews" of mine already, like Mario Paint, Super Mario RPG, and Mario Kart 64 (though as of this writing, the MK64 review is still the old one). I'll probably mention it heavily when I finish reviews for Super Mario 64 and Wave Race 64 too. That's not to say that those are the only reviews, games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and to a lesser extent, Ocarina of Time are influenced by that too.

But in 2011, a shift came to unlock the PC gamer inside of me. My cousin, the oldest of the three that once lived there, was camped out in the living room during that last trip in May 2011. He was on his computer the entire time (there wasn't a whole lot much else to do admittedly, the classic Nintendo games were gone by that time) and doing two things...playing Plants vs. Zombies on Steam and watching Farscape on Netflix. Now, Farscape would come later for me, and that is a good show (though it ends on a cliffhanger and Netflix does not have The Peacekeeper Wars on the system).

Admittedly, PvZ slides to the more "casual" side of the spectrum and is quite popular on mobile systems, but it's one of the few casual games that's still fun, and along with games in The Orange Box and the Humble Indie Bundle, is one of the headlining games that defined the summer of 2011 for me (I'm sad to say that I first beat the game on the Mac side of Steam, but it was slow and even kinda ruined the ending sequence). I did install Windows XP on my MacBook, and that's where I continued to play it even though I lost the data on it (data losses would occur again when trying to move from a messed-up XP installation on a MacBook to a new PC with 7 on it, but by that time I had been so far removed from the game it was alright to start over again). It's basically a "tower defense" game where you put plants in grids while zombies come down the line to try to get to the other side (that would be your brain), though the scream is always male. Maybe for the ladies playing, that could be the husband/boyfriend screaming that his wife's brain is being munched on by the zombies?

Like any good zombie storyline, they don't waste time explaining how the zombie apocalypse happened, it just does. There's just zombies out there (even the college-based "Humans vs. Zombies" games, which involve Nerf darts, often involve a storyline, and speaking of which, I'm sure that HvZ is where the idea came from). All the zombies are male, as female zombies might be seen negatively, and besides, the zombies all have different techniques but makes similar grunts, so it's not really necessary. One Zombie type was removed, though...there's a disco-themed "Dancing Zombie" who will summon "backup dancers" that come out of the ground and eat plants. It's extremely frustrating to beat this guy the first time around. Originally, it was a distinctly Michael Jackson zombie in an homage to "Thriller" but after Jackson's actual death in 2009, the estate demanded its removal.

This is a good set-up for early levels.

The Adventure mode is what must be done before the mini-games and puzzle modes (which are actually pretty fun, though the vasebreaker levels get difficult on later levels), and it takes you through five worlds with two mini-games and 8 levels apiece, with the worlds being the front yard (day, pretty easy), the front yard (night, no sun falling from the sky, so you'll have to rely on mushrooms to help out), the back yard (with a pool and water-based plants), the back yard at night (challenging), and the roof (daytime, hectic, but not as challenging as World 4). There's no night-time roof level (it cuts straight to the final boss), but I think that it would be cool if there was, then have the final boss actually inside. On the other hand, a night-time roof level would be insanely hard, given that at that point, they start rolling out the really tough guys, like an ogre zombie that takes forever to kill, launches a smaller imp zombie, and instead of eating plants, just smashes them with a telephone pole or a road sign (or, more rarely, another zombie).

I was pleased and amused by the "Portal Combat" minigame, which in addition to the Mortal Kombat pun, was also a reference to the then-new Portal, which was alright since in 2011, both were relatively new to me anyway, making it timely even though in reality "The Cake Is a Lie" had long fallen out of fashion. Unfortunately, that was the year that PopCap Games was bought by EA, much to the collective grief of the gaming community, as everyone knew what happened to Westwood, Origin Systems, Bullfrog, and Maxis. The sequel, Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time, released in 2013, would be a mobile-only free-to-play gimmick-based cash-in "mission pack sequel", despite some new plant ideas.

This is just a mini-game. The main adventure mode isn't this hectic.

Honestly, if there was one real complaint that I had, besides the almost-endless ways you can spend money in-game (collected within the game, not real-life, as pre-EA PopCap didn't sponge customers for money at every opportunity), like growing the Tree of Wisdom or 10 slots for plants, would be a sandbox mode. Here, you would be able to put any zombie in for free and any plant for free.

February 22 2016