Plants VS Zombies: An Addictive Gardening Video Game

by Genevieve on August 22, 2009

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I think of video games as mostly time-wasters and try to avoid them, but every so often one comes along that is so extremely fun that it’s hard to resist. Plants VS Zombies hits two of my favorite things – the ridiculous charm and kitsch of zombies combined with the over-the-top sunniness of plants.

You start out in the game by choosing which plants you want to use to defeat the zombie hordes – among them the weak Pea-Shooters, the expensive Cabbage-Pults that explode cabbage leaves on their heads, or the concerned-looking Wall-Nuts which the zombies stop to munch on until some of the bigger plant artillery can turn the zombies back into worm food.

Plants VS Zombies seed selection

Then you start the level, and the zombies start lurching towards your home. It’s a race between you getting your plant garden growing fast enough and with appropriate defenses, and the zombie hordes that advance in greater and greater numbers as the levels progress.

Every level, you get a new plant or ability of some kind to try out, and the zombies get cleverer about ways to sneak past your cheerfully lethal garden and into your home to eat your braaaaaiiiiiiiins.

What I loved most about the game is the fact that it’s rarely so difficult that you actually fail, but it’s never so easy that you can afford to take a moment and think about something else, so it lulls you into this almost meditative state of collecting sun and planting plants and strategizing about the next move.

Plants VS Zombies Gameplay

There are like 30 different plant weapons you can choose from, and you get to pick a number of them each round, so the strategic possiblities are endless. I settled into doing things in a few different ways, then was shocked to watch my partner play using a totally different strategy, using the zombies’ hatred of garlic (“BLECH!!!”, as they say) to funnel them all down a few rows of heavy pea-shooting artillary.

Beghouled and other mini games I completed the game once, then started in on the mini games and the endless modes. You can play “Be-ghoul-ed”, like the game Bejeweled only with plants and zombies, and after you complete a lot of the levels, you get to switch things up by playing a mode where YOU get to play the zombies and the computer plants the garden and defends the homestead. Once you have the insights from playing the bad guys, you can whomp the zombies even better when you go back to trying to vegetatively clobber them.

This was a really simple, fun game with a deceptive amount of strategy and thought involved, and it’s really fun to play with other people, because you can share ideas and strategies. It’s a one-player game, but the levels only take a few minutes to play, so you can switch off turns pretty easily. I read online about a father and his six-year-old daughter playing together each night after dinner, and how much they enjoyed talking about how to beat the zombies and making bad jokes about braaaaiiiiiiins afterwards. There’s even a really goofy music video at the end when you beat the game. Yes, the song is now indelibly stuck in my head.

Viva Pinata If you liked Tetris and enjoy other games where you can dip in for a little while here and there, then give Plants VS Zombies a try. If you like plants and also enjoy video games, you might also enjoy Viva Pinata – as Fern over at Life on the Balcony says, it’s a “first-person gardening game”!! A good substitute for those of us who studiously avoid the first-person shooting games that the boys play.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah August 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

That is too cool!

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Iona August 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Love the post!! Looks like so much fun. Do they have 12 step programs for this type of addiction? I need to know b4 I start playing!! Love from SF. The new site layout is just gorgeous!!

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GardenMad1 August 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm

I don’t like video games but this did make me smile! My kids are addicted to another game/site: Farmville which is a facebook application I think. They choose crops to grow and have to tend them at specified times. Then the harvest them and sell them or even give them to other farmers. It sounds a bit like the old tamagotchees – gardening without the fresh air and getting out of bed!!

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Fern August 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Heh. I haven’t played Viva Pinata in awhile. I might have to dust off my xbox. I might have forgotten enough for it to be “challenging” again. I wish there was a more adult version. Maybe something like Sims Farmer…
.-= Fern´s last blog ..Twitter Updates for 2009-08-24 =-.

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Monica the Garden Faerie August 25, 2009 at 8:29 am

LOL, I’m just old enough that I never really got into video games, though this one looks awfully fun. Except I think instead of zombies they should have been invasive insects and plant diseases, but, yeah, I get that this isn’t a game for hort peeps! :)
.-= Monica the Garden Faerie´s last blog ..I’m back! =-.

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Susan (garden-chick) August 25, 2009 at 9:46 am

Could this video game be the solution to getting teen-aged boys interested in gardening?

FYI, if the game becomes popular enough that a client asks to include cabbage-pults in their planting plan, I’ll let you know.
.-= Susan (garden-chick)´s last blog ..Before and After – Starring Purple, Orange and Black =-.

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Genevieve August 26, 2009 at 8:15 am

Hey Sarah, thanks for stopping by!! You’ve got to try it, I know you’ll dig it.

Iona, thanks for your nice comments! I’m glad you like the new site layout – I was trying to make it easier to navigate for people, now that I’ve been blogging a while I want people to be able to find what they’re looking for! And – no, unfortunately no support group or twelve steps for the game. Just choose a week with nothing going on and install it on asll your home computers so the other half doesn’t get jealous!

Gardenmad1! Thanks for stopping by! I’ve actually gotten some farmville requests, but I usually delete all the application requests. But maybe I’ll try Farmville now I know what it is!!

Fern, I still haven’t bought Viva, but I just noticed it on xbox 360 for ten bucks. I might get it to play with on labor day!

LOL, Monica, yes, that would have been super cool – praying mantids of doom and evil stick insects and the like. But – zombies!!! They are cool as well.

Susan, unfortunately, I think the game only converts one way – from gardener to gamer.
If only we could buy cabbage-pults – the damn raccoons just ate all my yellow plums that were slated for liqueur and sorbet making!!! I’d like to whomp them good.

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Anna/Flowergardengirl August 26, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Oh no!!!! I’ll be hooked. I want an aphid eater in my garden of the cyber world.
.-= Anna/Flowergardengirl´s last blog ..Asclepias Monkey Balls ;) =-.

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Mr. McGregor's Daughter November 23, 2009 at 9:05 am

I was thinking this morning, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a video game where you had to kill things like slugs, earwigs & aphids to protect your plants. This game is pretty close to that idea. Monica (The Garden Fairie) sent me.
.-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..Adventures in Welding =-.

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