Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Ah, Zombies, those shambling, mindless, wafer-thin analogs for the great mass of humanity one encounters on long bus and rail commutes. Movies and gaming will never tire of finding new ways for you to kill the relentless hordes. In perhaps the most adorable tower defense game ever, Pop Cap games lets you do the job with peas and sunshine.
For those that haven't played the desktop version of PvZ, Plants vs. Zombies is a cute and irreverent addition to the zombie genre—the graphics are cartoon-like, not ghoulish. Much like Rolando, the game gives you information as you go, pausing with tips so you learn on the zombie-killing job. PvZ's "help" icon advises you with LOLCat-like playfulness that "You win the game when the Zombies got to your houze." Signed, the Zombies.
PvZ doesn't make you bother with learning to move in various directions or aim your weapons; you're a plant. Well, you're a gardener. You plant the weapons, then they do the work. Like other tower defense games, you use the resources in your arsenal to combat the enemy. Unlike those other games though, Plants vs Zombie is simplified down to its essence—fewer resources, less strategizing and more comical corpses. It's casual.
The Zombies progress in straight lines from the right side of the screen, and you furiously plant aggressive pea-shooters or energy-providing sunflowers on a patch of lawn on the left side of the screen. The plants shoot automatically, and as long as you plant enough of them, they clear out the undead. That's it, until you earn more advanced weaponry, like cherry bombs that kill lots of zombies at one time, or until you meet a crazy neighbor who cracks some jokes and then advises you to bowl for zombies with wall-nuts.
Look, I didn't say it made sense. I said you get to kill zombies. Later, you get to kill more zombies, in slightly different ways. There are 26 different types of zombies in all, each with their own special skill to help them in their quest and advance ever closer towards your front door.
The sound effects are pretty varied and entertaining, particularly when the shambling mobs start chanting "brains."
PvZ is playable but not especially challenging. You get the hang of it quickly, and it is very hard to actually lose on a given level. Just in case you're close, there's a backup line of lawnmowers between whatever you plant and your house (the Zombies' "end zone.") Really, the fun in this game is in seeing what the next level will bring—new "bio-weapons," imaginative obstacles, or some as-yet unknown cannibalistic cuteness.
Plants vs Zombies has enthralled the teeming PC-gaming millions since its 2009 release. Plants vs Zombies for the iPhone is a well-packaged miniaturization of the original. No wonder it's a runaway best-seller in the App Store.
It just goes to show there's no accounting for taste, even the taste of fresh human brains.