Plants VS Zombies (Nintendo DS) Review

By Mike Mason 22.05.2011 3

Review for Plants VS Zombies on Nintendo DS

Plants VS Zombies has sprouted up all over the place since it was originally released on PC and Mac in 2009. It’s already wrapped its addictive tendrils around players on iPhone, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and now it’s the turn of Nintendo DS owners, both at retail and on DSiWare. Has enough been done to PopCap’s unique tower defence game to make it worthy of an additional release on Nintendo’s platform, or is this one hedge in need of a clipping?

Baseball bats. Hammers. Steamrollers. Chainsaws duct taped to rowing oars. All reasonably effective tools to deconstruct an approaching zombie. On a usual day, you’re not going to comfortably produce a bunch of posies in the face of a decaying monster that wants to sample your brain as an hors d’oeuvre. This is not a usual day. Plants VS Zombies’ flowers happen to be combat machines specifically designed to put the undead back in the ground.

In a grid-based garden, plants must be set into the ground over five or six rows to stop approaching zombies’ attempts to reach your house - and delicious brains. Before each stage a number of plants must be selected, each providing their own offensive or defensive benefits, to combat the ever-changing threat. Only a few plants are originally on offer, but with each successive victory a new one is added to your arsenal, and as they are different zombies will also appear, forcing players to switch strategies often - though that isn’t a problem, with dozens of blooming buddies to choose from. Should the wrong combination of plants be chosen at the beginning of the stage, it can practically be a loss straight out of the gate on latter stages.

Screenshot for Plants VS Zombies on Nintendo DS

Throwing seeds into the ground sounds like an easy way to escape a massacre, but there is a catch - plants can only be placed when you have gathered enough sunlight. Sun icons drop down gradually during play, but relying on those alone makes a tangible defence difficult; the solution is to plant sunflowers that regularly release their own icons to be tapped and collected. Solar energy is added to a meter at the top of the screen next to your plants’ seed packs, and each plant indicates how much of this energy they need to enter the field. The right plants and the right planting places may be chosen, but this means nothing if the flow of resources is not consistent, and if a balance between offence and defence is not struck upon. This constant bottleneck can lead to frantic moments, waiting for the amount of energy to just tick over so that an essential defence can be grown.

Plants VS Zombies’ story mode pushes players through several increasingly difficult scenarios, beginning with a plain grassy battlefield before switching through environments with extra restrictions. When night falls sunlight will no longer drop naturally, meaning that extra precious grid spaces must be used for energy production, while a whole new line-up of nocturnal fungi plants is made available, only to be snatched away again during proceeding day time stages. Ponds and roof tops are introduced, bringing with them the need to place down extra items such as plant pots and lily pads before any of your main plants can be put down at all. Boss battles, of sorts, act as breaks from the main action, removing the restrictions of normal stages and dictating new ones: only being able to knock down enemies by bowling rock plants, or only being able to use the seed packs that turn up on a conveyor belt, for example.

Screenshot for Plants VS Zombies on Nintendo DS

Players are not entirely alone, however, as the almost-as-creepy-as-your-enemies Crazy Dave crops up regularly to offer advice and access to his ‘shop’ - suspiciously ran out of the back of his car - wherein players can buy plants not usually available, extra seed pack slots so that more plants can be taken into each stage, and other goodies such as rakes that damage the first unfortunate rotter to arrive. Some stages also feature a lawnmower trap at the end of each row as a last line of defence if the zombies overrun; later levels require purchase of an upgrade for this, though.

There are so many things that can happen in Plants VS Zombies that it is a relief that things are taken so slowly, easing you in so that by the time it gets taxing players are already hardened against most assaults that the undead can bring to your doorstep. Great touch-screen controls also help, with direct control over everything allowing swift action should things go awry; clicking to plant, gather sun icons and coins is a doddle, which is a good job as things get pretty frenzied. Any pressure is lessened by the game’s off-beat humour, from the character designs through to the writing of Crazy Dave’s dialogue, notes from zombies, and the almanac that attributes bizarre little stories and quotations to all of the game’s plants and zombies.

Screenshot for Plants VS Zombies on Nintendo DS

If the campaign is not enough, there’s plenty more. 22 mini-games, 18 puzzles and other extras are included, with highlights such as a game where the zombies wear plants on their heads, taking on their powers and turning them against you, and the Zombatar mode that lets you create a zombified face avatar from piles of parts. Success in mini-games is rewarded by extra coins to spend in the story mode.

Not only that, but there is a plant collecting and caring mode, the Zen Garden. Looking after your garden well is, again, rewarded by coins. Survival and multiplayer modes also ensure that there is no need for Plants VS Zombies to leave your cartridge for a good while. Multiplayer is in both single-card and multi-card varieties; the latter was not testable for review purposes as only one copy was at our disposal, but the former is a fun mode that has one player controlling the plants, the other zombies. Zombies control in a similar fashion to plants, except brain power is used instead of sunlight to send new undead lurching towards the house, while plants try to destroy targets on the zombies’ side.

Screenshot for Plants VS Zombies on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There’s a huge amount of addictive gameplay on offer in Plants VS Zombies, all tied up in a humorous package that is perfect for short and long play sessions. Another success for PopCap that will keep many players busy for a good while, Plants VS Zombies is no weed.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date TBA   Australian release date TBA   


Fantastic and addictive game.

I tried the demo out on the PS3 and despite the HD/clean visauls looking better, I still preferred the DS one by far. The touchscreen controls are just a perfect match for the game.

I have it on my iPod Touch, and I have to say, it's the best game on the app store by a country mile.

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I've heard there is Plants vs Zombies game-of-the-year edition. The new version, I believe, has just been released; now without Michael Jackson as the zombie.

Thanks for sharing. Smilie

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