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Plants vs. Zombies (Nintendo DS) Review

You’ve got a problem, my friend. There are zombies–lots of zombies–and they are jonesing for a hefty slice of your brain. There are zombies in your front yard. There are zombies in your backyard. There are zombies in your pool. Oh, no! There are zombies on your roof! What. are. you. going. to. do?!? Ooohh, I know! Plants!
Plants vs. Zombies is a colorful take on the whole zombie apocalypse craze where players combat the encroaching horde of zombies with strategically placed killer plants. The game has been very popular since it’s PC release in 2009, and now Popcap Games has brought the action to the small screen. The Ds version contains all the features that made the PC version popular, and adds in 4 new mini-games as well as the use of the touch screen to combat those hungry un-dead.
The game begins as  you are shown your front yard. Your house is on the left. On the right–a horde of zombies. At first your yard is only a single strip of grass, and the only plants available to you are a single pea shooter and sunflowers. You must collect the sun from the sunflowers and the sky by tapping it with your stylus. Once you have collected enough sun, you can use it to buy pea shooters and other sunflowers to place around your yard. The more sunflowers you have, the more sun money you can collect to buy other plants. As you progress in the game, your yard gets bigger and more zombies approach. As the variety of zombies increase, so does your variety of plants to combat them. You are given a new plant a the end of most stages, and most of the time the new plants will coincide with a new zombie that requires that particular plant to kill it.
In the beginning, you simply have all the plants you have collected thus far available to you. However, once you collect a few more plants you find out that you can only equip 7 plants at a time. And so the strategizing begins. You’ll need a source of sun for every level, and you’ll likely need some specialized plants as well. What to choose?
Never fear! Your friendly neighbor Crazy Dave is here, and once you find his car key you will be given access to his shop. By clicking on coins that randomly appear during your epic battles, you can earn money to spend in the shop on various items–and these includes extra plant slots. There isn’t a ton of money released–and you’ll likely miss some in the heat of battle–but you’ll want to collect as much as possible because you’re going to need those extra slots as the stages get more complex and the zombies get harder to kill.
Each level consists of 10 stages of increasing difficulty. Each time you finish a level, your environment will change–day, night, fog, various areas of your home–and each change will require a shift in both your strategy and plants used. Some plants, like the sunflower, will not work at night. Others, like mushrooms,  only work during the day. All of the plants–and there are lots of them–have different functions. Most of them have somewhat descriptive names (tallnut makes a tall wall, torchwood lights thing on fire, etc.) but even so it can be difficult to keep them all straight. Early on in the game, you are given an almanac that you can consult about the various plants as well as the different types of zombies.  This will useful to you, as some of the zombies require specific plants to kill them.
All that planting and zombie killing is a lot of fun, but sometime you want a little variety.  The mini-games placed throughout the game add that variety in some unexpected ways. These are games your children will ask to play over and over, and they can be accessed through “mini games” on the main menu once you unlock them. Who wouldn’t want to roll large walnuts at a horde of approaching undead, or use a hammer to go at them in “Whack a Zombie”? Now *that* is fun for the whole family. There was one mini game particular to the DS version of Plants vs. Zombies that I found a bit….humiliating. In this one, your plants are very sleepy, so Crazy Dave advises you to yell at them to wake them up. Yep, you need to yell at your Ds–a lot–otherwise your plants won’t shoot any zombies. Don’t worry–you won’t look like an idiot at all. Reeeally. I recommend that you play this mini game in some sort of public place for maximum mortification. Also, be ware of cell phone cameras lest say, your husband was to secretly tape you screaming “SHOOT THE ZOMBIES!” at your Ds and post it on Youtube for the entire developed world to see. Jus’ saying.

One of the best features of Plants vs. Zombies Ds is that it is challenging and fun for old and young alike. With it’s colorful stages, fun mini games, and catchy music your kids are going to want to play it–and they can. Despite the whole concept of killing zombies, there really isn’t any objectionable content, and once the mini games are unlocked they can pick and choose the ones that suit their tastes. Everyone in my considerable household, from 4 year old girls to pre-teen boys to adults, loved this very addicting game.

Final Thoughts
Plants vs. Zombies is a great strategy game that is really lots of fun. While the gameplay gets quite challenging, the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously keeps the action light and enjoyable. Plants vs. Zombies is also one of those rare games that adults and children both like, and that will definitely increase the gameplay it gets if yours is a household with kids. The graphics aren’t quite as crisp as they are on the PC version but that is to be expected with a Ds game, and the use of the touch screen more than makes up for that.  I give Plants vs. Zombies a 9 out of 10, and recommend it to just about everybody.

About Amy

U.S. Senior Editor/Deputy EIC at BrutalGamer, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @MacAnthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)

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