Plants versus Zombies

All week long I meant to start my column and talk about Plant vs. Zombies. But one thing got in the way, namely Plants vs. Zombies, which is a little too much fun, making it hard to get anything else done. On the surface this is an incredibly simple game. There are zombies that want to get into your house and there are plants that protect it (and your presumably delicious brains). The plants come in a wide variety like peas, which shoot their legumes at the approaching zombies, or potatoes, which are bombs which explode with a delightful SPUDOW.

There are a few basic settings; your yard, your backyard, complete with pool, your roof and a couple of complications like fog, which make it difficult to see the approaching zombies and what kind they are. In order to put plants in the pool you need to plant lily pads first, which support the weight of the plants. Certain plants like the potato bomb won't work, I guess because it can't dig down under the lily pad. There is one plant that doesn't need a lily pad; a kind of tangle weed that is super awesome as it can take out a zombie all on its own and costs very little. Which brings me to the nitty-gritty – you have to pay for almost every plant.

Cash is not an acceptable tender in this game. Instead you need to pay with sunlight, which you mostly get from sunflowers. In general a level starts with fifty sunlight and the ability to buy whatever costs fifty or less. If you want to win the level you'd better spend the energy on a sunflower, which costs exactly fifty. (Some sun falls from the sky during the daytime levels but it's not nearly enough to get you anywhere. Nighttime levels come with a little sun emitting mushroom, which you can buy.) Husbanding resources is an important part of this game as sunlight can only accumulate so quickly and you don't want to get caught with no defensive plants and a horde of encroaching zombies. Your choices at the beginning of each stage will have a profound impact on your ability to win.

You want to buy as many sunflowers as you can, (I like two columns) but you need to balance them with plants that can defeat the zombies. It's also important to keep in mind that zombies will eat plants as soon as they can. If they aren't felled by something they'll start chawing down on your plants and eventually make their way into the house. It only takes them a few seconds to get past most plants, although there are a few that can last longer and work as excellent barricades. Walnuts fall into this category and are also the weapon of choice in the bowling game, where you knock zombies over before they can get in and devour your brains. As you begin the game you'll only have a few plants to start with, but you'll earn new ones as you advance.

The zombies come in a variety of flavors, from the simplest and easiest to destroy, to those wearing armor like traffic cones (a little protection) or football uniforms (lots of protection). There are even zombies that aren't fazed by being blown up. They just keep coming. Those are the super scary ones. Also frightening are the zombies that leap into the pool complete with dolphins, jump over all your defenses and are in the house before you even register they are on the screen. And to think I used to love dolphins.

There are four basic ways to play the game: adventure; puzzle; mini games; and survival. The game begins with one option, adventure, with the rest locked. The more levels you defeat the more of the rest of the game you unlock. For instance once you progress far enough in the adventure you'll unlock mini games, but not all of them. Win one and another unlocks.

You can also get special awards for various achievements, like getting to level 15 vase breaker in the puzzle games. That particular accomplishment has so far eluded me, despite me playing it virtually nonstop over the three day Columbus Day weekend. It's a lot of fun to play but it also makes me wonder if my head is going to explode.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Sweets and who wrote in to say, "How cute was Brennan in the Guido episode of Bones? Adorable!!" Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at