PopCap games has always been known for the addictive gameplay that can be found in the most simplistic of game mechanics. With darling franchises under their belts such as Bejeweled, Peggle, and Zuma!; Plants vs. Zombies succeeds in hitting its mark, earning a place alongside these astonishingly successful games but does the recent port to the Nintendo DS live up to the standards of the original platforms?
For those who are not familiar with Plants vs. Zombies, the game revolves around the idea that the player is a homeowner attempting to protect his house from waves of invading zombie attacks. Using simple tower defense mechanics, players utilize different types of plants that act as towers. Each plant has different abilities ranging from firing seeds as projectiles, eating zombies, or simply freezing them in place temporarily. Some plants even explode when sown whipping out a multitude of zombies in a given area. Different zombie types also have different strengths and weaknesses, thus adding an extra layer of strategy to the game.
There are three different stages throughout the game, the front yard, back yard (which included a pool), and the roof. The utilization of the DS's touch screen allows players to drag the plants from the top of the screen down onto the yard; however the lack of the option to simply touch the plant and touch the location in which you wish to place it can lead to many frustrating moments. The touch screen is not as acutely accurate as one would wish, and can at times misplace vital decisions players make making simpler levels much more difficult.
The upper screen of the DS serves little purpose throughout the game. Granted it allows players to see how many waves are remaining in each level, but mostly it simply does a better job at amusing the person looking over your shoulder watching you play as the quirky animation of crows and zombies flit across the screen.
When Plants vs. Zombies was announced for the Nintendo DS, new and exclusive game content was promised to be included in this new version of the game. Unfortunately, these new features only include a handful of new level that utilizes the DS's microphone in which you have to shout at your plants to ward off fatigue, a ZOMBATAR! mode in which players are able to create their own zombie avatar, and a VS mode which was also featured in the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game. There are a plethora of different versions of the game that can be played with a friend in VS mode, granted your friend also has a copy of the game. However, if only one copy of the game is available, players can also the DS's Download Play ability which allows for a basic skirmish using the single cartridge. Every other mode of gameplay, survival, puzzle, mini games, adventure, and the zen garden, are all included in the game as well.
While the graphics in the game seem to have ported well to the DS, it is by no means any comparison to the HD version of the iPad, not to mention the steep price tag that goes along with it. In later levels or survival mode, the game bogs down tremendously as the screen fills with plants and zombies making it nearly impossible to do anything else aside from simply watching the attack unfold. While Plants vs. Zombies for the Nintendo DS does an excellent job maintaining the fun factor that keeps pulling that DS out of your pocket every chance you get, the game is simply available on too many other platforms and at a much lower entry price. Plants vs. Zombies is only for those gamers who only have access to a DS, in other words: if you own a PS Vita, Xbox Live, PS3, Android, or iOS device, seek this game on one of those devices before dropping the $20 to pick this up on the DS.
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