PopCap Games delivers a faithful Nintendo DS translation of the incredibly addictive Plants vs. Zombies strategy game. Because of the limitations of the DS display resolution and audio, Plants vs. Zombies on the DS has noticeably compromised its audio and visuals. PopCap Games has obviously opted to bring as close a Plants vs. Zombies gameplay experience as on other platforms instead of creating a version crafted to take advantage of the DS capabilities such as dual screens. Still, under those limitations, Plants vs. Zombies is addictive, plays snappy with touch screen controls and offers plenty of bonus extras, versus gameplay and achievements. Seasoned planters may want to wait for the DSiWare release for the Nintendo DS exclusive content. Hungry and faithful followers or new players to Plants vs. Zombies will have plenty of meat to chew on.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Plants vs. Zombies review
By now, most gamers should be familiar or had some time with the charming undead fun of Plants vs. Zombies (the uninitiated should look here for a summary of the game). The strategy defense game has spanned successful PC, Mac, iOS, Xbox LIVE Arcade, and even online competitive releases since mid-2009. Nintendo DS gamers finally get a version of their very own with Plants vs. Zombies for the DS. So how does this version stack up among the family of Plants vs. Zombies game releases?
PopCap Games has gone for a DS version as true to the Plants vs. Zombies game on other platforms. With the Nintendo DS resolution at 256 x 192, this meant a compromise in the typically crisp visuals. Still, the pixel plants and zombies hold up very well and are still as vibrant (and lovable) as ever. The stylus touch screen controls work out excellent and snappy on the DS. I never noticed a slowdown in visual performance, however the audio was noticeably stripped down in comparison to other versions and at times sounding laggy. To me, the difficulty level seemed easier on the DS version. I have to note that I have played all the other versions of Plants vs. Zombies, so it could very well be that I’ve got the game’s formula down. I was hoping the top Nintendo DS screen would be used for something more than just secondary visuals. The top screen displays more detailed, close up animations of zombies that serve as a bit of a distraction rather than adding a new function. The DS microphone is used in a limited capacity as well, to “cheer up” plants on some game types.
In addition to the 50 levels in the single-player mode, there are plenty of game features to keep players busy. Other gameplay modes include Survival, Puzzle (20 variations), Mini-Games (22 variations, with 4 DS exclusives) and the Zen Garden. Those modes are unlocked as the player progresses through the single-player mode and picks up gifts along the way. Trying to get all the in-game achievements and unlock all the puzzle and mini-games offer many hours of additional gameplay.
The Zombatar feature, where you can custom create your zombie, is fun to play with for a few minutes. It’s too bad that you cannot save your Zombatar to an SD card for use outside the game. Wireless play is supported, so you can compete with a friend via Single-card or Multi-card play. This is one of the highlights of the Plants vs. Zombies DS release, allowing players to go head versus head as either plants or zombies.
The Nintendo DS retail package features a nicely embossed slip cover (complete with zombie bite) and a manual with some of the zombie’s own humorous corrections. Diehard Plants vs. Zombies fans will want to add the DS package to their collection for the modest $19.99 MSRP. If you are only looking for the DS exclusive features, PopCap Games will be releasing a DSiWare version that offers that. So the verdict is, if you have never played Plants vs. Zombies and only have a DS/DSi/DSi XL or are a Plants vs. Zombies addict with undying hunger for more, get the DS retail release. If you only want to enjoy the DS exclusive features and have a DSi or DSi XL, wait for the DSiWare release.