Do we really need Plants Vs Zombies on another platform? Hell yeah!
PopCap’s excellent take on the tower defence genre is now available for DS, both as DSiWare and in boxed form courtesy of Mastertronic, wrapping up the games’ availability on every platform under the sun. Surely there is no need for this version as pretty much everyone on the planet must have had the chance to play the game by now? Well, there are two points to make here. First up, the Nintendo DS platform is incredibly popular and, for the casual gamers at least, may be the only platform that the player owns. The second point that I can make is that Plants Vs Zombies is infinitely playable. I have played the game to completion on the PC, iPhone and Xbox360, yet still I found myself getting engrossed in the DS version and playing the hell out of it. So I, for one, welcome the game appearing on the Nintendo handheld.
For those of you who have yet to experience the joy of the main game, let me explain. Plants Vs Zombies is a variant on the tower defence genre with the player having to protect their home from zombies. The undead walk slowly along lanes towards the house and the player must protect their property by planting a variety of defensive plants. As the player progresses through the levels, different zombies will be set against the player and many different types of plants will become available with which to counter this threat. Plants have to be paid for using sun which falls from the sky or can be created by certain plants, adding a level of strategy to the game.
And with the DS version, nothing has changed in this respect. The player will still be treated to different types of levels and plants as they defend their garden during the day or at night, build defences in their pool or even protect the roof of their house. Each different environment will require different tactics or different plants, regular plants needing lily pads for planting in the pool, or plant pots for on the roof, and night time planting requiring a completely different type of plant.
As far as the controls go, Plants Vs Zombies really is the ideal game for the touchscreen handheld. Players simply drag and drop their plants, and tap to collect sun. The precision from the stylus on the touchscreen makes the game second only to the original mouse-driven PC game for ease of control.
But Plants Vs Zombies has never been just about the adventure mode. The survival and puzzle modes are also here on the DS, offering further extension of the gameplay, and the multiplayer versus mode, in which players go head to head as either the sunflowers or the zombies, adds a human element and a different way to enjoy the game. The Zen Garden becomes available, allowing the player to plant flowers and collect coins, and Crazy Dave is still willing to sell you some bizarre items from the back of his car. In this DS version, the player even gets four exclusive mini-games, which is certainly welcome. One of the mini-games sees the game make use of the DS microphone and will require a certain amount of shouting, perhaps not ideal for the long bus journeys, but fun nonetheless.
From a visual point of view, the game loses some of it’s quality. The game still looks good, but things are a bit cramped on the small screen and the fact that on occasion zombies can obscure the buttons that you need to press shows that PopCap really had to squeeze everything in. The top screen is not really used at all. The audio is as brilliant as ever and features the same “plonky” soundtrack as the other versions, alongside the occasional zombie declaring their fondness for “brainssss”.
Plants Vs Zombies is quite possibly the best tower defence game available and the Ds version is no different. The humour of the game, combined with the variety of gameplay and plants, and the sheer amount of gaming that can be had, all add up to a must-buy DS game for anyone who has yet to try the game. For those that have played other versions, it is up to you to decide if you are a big enough fan. Either way, this version of the game is great.