Saturday, August 18, 2012

Plants Vs. Zombies DSiWare Review

This review was originally written for DigitalSomething.com, but since that site is gone after seven years and I just downloaded the DsiWare title, I figured I would repost it on my new blog.

If one company was the master at casual games, PopCap would be it.  There are two games in particular that really sank their teeth into me and still have yet to relinquish their grasp, and both of them are now available on the Nintendo DS.  My favorite one, Peggle, was released in 2009.  I had just escaped from the clutches of the other, but it has shambled back into my life (and onto my 3DS) and started attacking my brain.  Now I am struggling to free myself from the zombie masses once again, so I figured it would be a good time to review Plants Vs. Zombies.

In Plants Vs. Zombies, your house is under attack by zombies who want nothing more than to break in and eat your brains.  They even leave little notes to tell you when they are going to attack.  Or, in one case, to invite you to eat meatloaf.  You only have one course of action: killing them with vegetation.  If your flowers fail, you are zombie food.  

PvZ plays like a tower defense game, so you are tasked with planting the seeds of various foliage to defend your precious skull candy.  The currency in this game is, fittingly enough, sunshine.  Yes, you collect bits of the nuclear power of the sun itself to power your army.  How else would you get a plant that shoots out softball-sized peas at the approaching undead?  Aside from the peashooters, you can also get your hands on exploding cherries, zombie-eating plants (think Audrey II), and giant wall-nuts.  During the nighttime levels, you can also have access to various deadly fungi.  

The stenchers come in a multitude of varieties as well, but unfortunately there are no Boomers, Smokers, or Tanks.  These zombies fall in the family-friendly category.  In this game, don’t be surprised to see undead football players, bobsled teams, bungee jumpers, dolphin riders, and disco dancers (replacing the King of Pop zombie).  

With all of that out of the way, I think we need to get more into the specifics of the DS version.  First of all, this version of the game has all of the same features of the Xbox Live Arcade version, minus the online multiplayer.  There is still multiplayer, but it is only local wireless.  On the plus side of that, there is download play.  That is always nice to see.  There are all of the other game modes as well, and there are even four exclusive mini-games including a shump.  

Now, with the porting of the game over to the DS, there were some things that were scaled back.  In fact, nearly everything in the game’s presentation had been downgraded.  The sprites are not as detailed as any of the other available versions, and their animations have been reduced.  The games sound effects and music were even scaled back a bit.  The worst part is the slowdown.  When you have a mostly full lawn (or roof), and things get really heated, things tend to get bogged down a bit.  It isn’t constant, but it is noticeable.  Honestly, it reminds me of a SNES game.  That isn’t meant to be a dis, the SNES is my all-time favorite system.  I was just expecting everything to look cleaner.

Even with the drawbacks, it is still the same game, and I have still been playing the hell out of it.  There is still that mild sense of panic you get when things start looking dim.  It is a disappointment?  Only a little.  Do I think you should buy it?  Yes.  Especially if you really want to have zombies in your pants.  

Final Score: 8/10