A Multi-Decade Legacy of Dancing Plantlife

8 05 2009

They were in Super Mario Brothers, bopping along in the background and smiling and being all flowery — and now they’re back and ready to annihilate wave after wave of the shambling, abominable dead.

Yep, it’s Plants vs. Zombies, the latest Popcap addictive time annihilator. In this case, it’s the most adorable casual spin on the tower defense game ever. Your ‘towers’ are cute l’il flowers, which attack the waves of cute l’il zombies trying to break into your house and eat your brains.

You only get five ‘lanes’ to defend and a simple grid, with enemies approaching from one direction… and yet despite this simplicity, it dances nicely on the edge between casual-easy and hardcore-deep. And once you finish the mission mode, you’re off to the races with tons of minigames and traditional tower-defense survival modes.

There’s a demo up on Steam, and a eye-bleedingly precious little music video. Oh, and it’s available in Japanese pop flavor too.

Ever since I started IMing word of this game around, I’ve been seeing it pop up left and right on my Steam friends list. I think I’ve inadvertently addicted most of DFB Crew to this thing. Glad it’s a weekend.

I bring this up in my effort to highlight interesting indie games I’ve played lately — but does Popcap count as ‘indie’ anymore? Or are they some sort of Evil Casual Games Empire? They do make a crapton of money and are universally known, despite being largely the domain of small-scale downloadables. …know what? I don’t care. If they make fun things I can enjoy, I’m there. Period.

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8 responses

9 05 2009
raigne

I would say popcap’s up there with gamehouse and bigfish in terms of visibility int he casual gaming community. They’re one of the giants. If it makes you feel any better, they crank out so many casual games a month, they end up in obscurity pretty damn fast. :P
I also don’t care. The games are a perfect remedy for cabin fever. I’ll download five or six of the demos at once and spend the day playing them when I’m in a funk.

9 05 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

A lot of their games just don’t grab me — the concept is mildly amusing but not enough to play for hours, or the mechanics are kinda puzzling, or the aesthetics just don’t appeal. But when they DO hook me, look the hell out.
I need to get around to writing that post I was gonna write about Popcap and my mild, undiagnosed OCD. I can sit there plugging for HOURS at Bejeweled Twist’s Zen mode if I don’t stop myself.

9 05 2009
raigne

Few of them ever grab me for longer than it takes to finish the demo. Even fewer will get me to cough up money for them. Insaniquarium was one of them. That one had me hooked for a few weeks.
GemCraft grabbed me for a couple of days.
There is also my much lamented Knight Move, which was only ever released for Palm OS 3 and, I think, one of the early versions of Pocket PC. It was a cross between a CCG and Monopoly. I was obsessed with it until the screen on my Visor Prism broke. The company disappeared (and I mean, no one seems to know exactly what happened to them) and the game will not run on the newer versions of Palm. I still have my Visor in the hopes that I can one day make it work again and MAYBE without losing the game on it, since I have no clue what I did with the unlock code. :(

9 05 2009
ranneko

I’ve been away at a holiday house with a group of friends for the last week and one of us had pre-ordered this, so got it and started playing it. As a result of that I’ve been resisting the urge to buy it for myself for the last couple of days. I finally succumbed earlier today.

9 05 2009
kowh

Heh, I was wondering if I had caused a similar effect, I was the first person I saw playing it on my friends list. I had preordered and played it pretty much as soon as it came out.
I keep an eye on the games being added to Steam, and figured this one was worth a trial. I pass on most PopCap games because I get tired of them quickly, but this one looked like it would be worthwhile even if that happened. Turns out I still haven’t tired of it. :)

9 05 2009
keikotakamura

Need game help? Here’s a tip: You win the game when the zombies get to your house!
(#unhelpfulhelpscreenFTW)

10 05 2009
meagenimage

Tower defense as a genre has never grabbed me that much. I prefer pattern-matching games. (Puzzle Quest is on my list of “things to get as soon as I have the time and money for them”.)

10 05 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Go for the original Puzzle Quest, not Galactrix. Although I like Galactrix’s tile mechanic better, the game surrounding it just has too many annoyances.

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