Video Game Thoughts: Plants vs. Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies was a 2009 tower defense game by PopCap Games for the PC. Plants vs. Zombies as the name implies was about a war between plants and zombies. Plants vs. Zombies was, in fact, originally designed as a casual game, but it turned out to have a lot of depth. The main developer, George Fan, was a traditional gamer but knew how to make a game that appealed to anyone. With solid gameplay and a tongue-in-cheek story, mainstream gamers fell in love with it. This was super rare because casual games tended to be simple, puzzle games without much depth to them. The game took itself seriously, but the players were in on the joke.

It became one of the few viral indie games. People started talking about it all over social media. The music in particular was loved by everyone. Many players posted their own renditions of the music. This being a low budget game, the music was actually composed by George Fan’s girlfriend, Laura Shigihara. She had composed for a few games before, but her new stardom launched her career to new heights.

At the time I regularly read gaming news, so I heard all about this new game and all the waves it was making. Still, it was not the type of game I would normally play, so I held off on buying it. After a few years though, I decided I would try out when it was on sale for half price. The game wasn’t perfect, but I really liked it. The player was tasked with protecting a house by planting special plants that could attack the zombies. There was a huge variety to the plants from “pea shooters” that had long distance shots to Venus flytraps that could actually consume any single zombie in close range. The zombies also had a large variety. The most common zombies were slow and mindless, but some could run fast and others could pole-vault over obstacles, among many other variations.

The plants and zombies were not all introduced from the start. The game did a great job of slowly introducing them as well as other game mechanics. Every level there was something slightly new to discover and master. The game never became boring. I especially liked the casual nature of the game. I could save the game at any point between levels. I never had to worry about losing progress because each level was no more than five minutes long.

When I heard that PopCap Games was making a sequel to the game, I was really excited. I hoped they would make an even better game. That’s what every video game players hopes in a sequel. The original Plants vs. Zombies didn’t have many bugs. It was pretty stable. A sequel just needed a few new mechanics and lots of new levels. Unfortunately, the game went in a different direction. Plants vs. Zombies 2 was released only for iOS and Android devices, which I don’t have. It also had a free-to-play business model that I avoid. The player had to either put tons of time into the game or keep spending money at regular intervals to make any progress.

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