"Dual Screen Zombies"
The Internet gaming craze turned PC game, turned cell phone game, turned Xbox LIVE Arcade game, turned Mac game, is now available on Nintendo’s DS / DSi handheld systems: Plants vs. Zombies. Packed with exclusive content and implementing touch controls, the DS version of Plants vs. Zombies is the biggest yet. Unfortunately, this edition also features downgraded graphics and a high price tag.
For those of you who don’t know what Plants vs. Zombies is, it’s basically a tower defense strategy game played out in an isometric view. The goal of each level is to defend your home from being overrun by zombie neighbors. But how does one defend their home, you ask? With plants, of course! Joking aside, these plants pack a powerful punch, offering unique abilities and attacks. By collecting sunshine that falls from the sky or is produced by special sunflower plants at set intervals, players purchase plants and place them on a grid in front of their home. Each time you place a plant, you are forced to wait to place another as its timer recharges, providing a good bit of strategy on when and where to place your plants in an effort to destroy any oncoming zombies.
- Very violent veggies!-
Plants range from peashooters that fire seeds, directly damaging enemies in front of them, to walnuts that act as protective barriers, to cherries that explode on contact like a proximity mine. As the game progresses, more plants are added to your arsenal and can even be purchased from a store using an in-game currency. Not every won or purchased plant can be used in a level, making it vital to choose the right plant load out according to the enemies that will appear in each level. Like plants, zombies differ in how they attack, from your standard, rambling zombie to quicker zombies that sport poles and can vault over certain plants. Like the iPhone version, the DS edition of Plants vs. Zombies solely uses touch controls and to great effect. Plants vs. Zombies has always benefited from touch controls and it’s no different here. Unfortunately, the DS’ top screen seems wasted, displaying a useful level progress map, but also a superfluous background graphic with close ups of the next enemy. The lower screen cuts off much of the graphics of the original game and the low resolution of the sprites and backgrounds makes this the ugliest edition to date.
The characters were never well designed to begin with, and they still aren’t here. Plants display a wide range of graphic styles that never look alike, and the zombies suffer from poor flash-style design and animation. It all becomes more glaring with the DS version of the game with its lower resolution screen. The sound effects and soundtrack are similarly butchered, sounding compressed. This zombie hasn’t aged well.
- Tons of zombie types will continually challenge you-
Fortunately, Plants vs. Zombies on the DS offers plenty of extras not seen in previous iterations. These extras come in the form of four mini-games that are entertaining distractions and add little to the package. These include a side scrolling shooter called Air Raid, a baseball-themed defense game called Home Run Derby, Bomb All Together in which you defend your home solely with bomb plants, and the voice command game Heat Wave. Plants vs. Zombies’ biggest offense is its $20 price tag. When you can get the same game with less content for one-tenth the price on your iPhone or iPod Touch, why pay more?
If it weren’t for the hefty price tag and low production values, Plants vs. Zombies would be easy to recommend for the DS. At the current price, it just isn’t worth it (unless the DS is the only system available to you), which is a shame considering the fundamental gameplay mechanics are addicting and entertaining.
GameDynamo's Score for Plants vs. Zombies (DS/DSi)
He's always enjoyed the artistic craft of video games and received a Bachelor in Fine Arts for Animation. He also creates his own games!
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