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Plants vs. Zombies DS Review - -

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 7.0
Sound 6.0
Value 8.5
Distributor: Mindscape
James Wright


Plants vs. Zombies

One of the most popular PC and iOS casual games of all time has finally arrived on the Nintendo DS with Plants and Zombies. Having played both the PC and iPhone versions of Plants vs. Zombies, I was actually quite eager to play this game again, especially with the stylus as its controller. Although graphically, the aforementioned platforms are far superior, the gameplay still works quite well on the DS, even though it is a tad cluttered at times.

For those who have never played the game before, Plants vs. Zombies is a classic tower defence game that puts the player in charge of a house which is about to be overrun by zombies. Your goal is to prevent an almost never ending hoard of zombies from entering your home and as opposed to shotguns, machetes or grenades, your weaponry is based on living and quite deadly plants. By strategically placing various plants around your home, this will assist in stopping the zombie invasion and more particularly... save your brain for the main course!

In essence, the game is almost identical to the original version of Plants vs. Zombies, however it is lacking the cooperative play mode, not that this is a must have feature. Another interesting aspect is that the top screen of the DS is used to display images, movies and statistics of your progress. Considering the concept of tower defence, the top screen is used well. The gameplay is relatively quite simple, plant plants in order for them stop the zombies.

With that said, the Nintendo DS version five modes of play that include Adventure (Campaign, 50 levels), Survival (see how long you can hold out), Puzzle (who doesn't love a zombie puzzle), Mini-Games and Zen Garden for the inner zombie within you. You can even make your own Zombie Avatar with Zombatar on the DS which I'm sure some adults will enjoy. Virtually identical to the PC, there is also a wealth mini-games, including a hugely addictive competitive mode.

Before starting the game, you need to select which plants you want in your arsenal and as you progress, additional plants are unlocked/purchased. As with the PC version, I found myself using certain plants to win and thanks to the almanac, you can see exactly what all the different plants (48) and zombies (26) can do. The gaming environment is also split into grids (think chessboard) that limits the number of plants that can you plant and adds an element of strategy. Needless to say, there are a plethora of plants up your sleeve and while some plants shoot (e.g. peashooters), others acts like rocket launchers and some are used to stop zombies for a short time. The most useful plant are the sunflowers which are used to purchase additional plants for your level. Between levels, you can also visit crazy Dave in order to purchase power-ups like additional plant slots or other goodies to destroy the zombies as you progress through the 50 levels.

Even though the gaming environments are quite limited, there are a few different places where you need to protect your house and one area features a pool area which means you need to plant water plants in order to stop underwater zombies. To add another element of confusion, some levels also require you to fight at night which means your tactics change again, especially when it comes to growing sunflowers as they need sun to grow. If one Zombie gets through, it's basically game over for the player.

Although Adventure mode is the highlight of Plants vs. Zombies, the mini-games do offer some additional fun to be found elsewhere in the title. The good thing about the DS version is that the developers have included four new mini-games with one using the in-built capabilities of the DS such as the microphone. By shouting into the microphone, this helps keep your sleepy plants awake. It's fun but just not something you would play in a crowded bus or somewhere else in public.

The competitive mode of Plants vs. Zombies is great and my only grip with this mode is that it only supports local play. Given that, one gamer controls the zombies and the other, the plants. It does open this franchise for some awesome gaming sessions, especially on the DS.

Considering that you're limited to 18 or so different zombies to create, it does change the balance of power and is a real hoot to play the zombies. There are also several different tweaks that you can change on the multiplayer game which makes for some interesting customisation options.

Graphically, Plants vs. Zombies on the DS is a good looking game that mirrors the original game well. The only issue with the graphics is that everything seems too squashed on the touch screen as you select your plants and grow them on the battlefield. Although it's quite tiny, it does not really create any real difficulties with the gameplay because the stylus controls work so well. Sound effects and music have been taken from the original game and all in all, Plants vs. Zombies comes together rather well on the Nintendo DS.

Final Thoughts?

In the end, Plants vs. Zombies is a very apt game on the Nintendo DS that successfully ports this franchise to this console. With perfect controls thanks to the stylus and the exact same gameplay you find on any of the other platforms, this is one game that DS users should investigate because casual gaming doesn't get any better than Plants vs. Zombies.


Review courtesy of Mindscape



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