despite my continued attempts to explore the world of massively popular casual games (such as the infamous angry birds), they really just seem to serve as reminders to me that they’re meant for an entirely distinct audience. it’s a world that i can observe but never really quite comprehend. the latest case in point was plants vs. zombies, by popcap. i played the DSiware version, although it’s been ported to just about every current-gen system, including the DS, ipad/iphone, and PC/mac.
the game’s premise is simple: place plants in your backyard to fight an army of invading zombies. despite receiving rave reviews there are several obvious reasons why the game was so tedious for me. one is that it’s mind-numbingly easy, so much so that i had to struggle to muster up the motivation to play through even the first world (which come in sets of 10 levels). by the time i’d done so, however, i’d gotten to enjoy the game design more, and with new weapons and enemies becoming available after almost every level the game grew more interesting. sadly, this was not to last, however, and by the time i got to the fourth world (of 5, for a total of 50 levels) the game had more than worn out its welcome and even the deluge of new weapons and enemies wasn’t enough to keep me playing. the game adds even more distractions in the form of humorous plant and zombie descriptions in the extras and unlockable mini-games that are variations on the main game (some of which are quite clever, such as one in which the zombies have the same abilities as the plants that you’re using). but all this variety is just at attempt to cover up the fact that the core concept is incredibly weak: the “strategy” required is absolutely minimal (hence its popular appeal), and thus beating levels provides no sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. the game’s presentation is entertaining although not spectacular (it still feels like a flash game), and certainly not enough to keep me engaged. all in all, this game left me feeling like a zombie and loathe to play another tower defense game, with only the prospect of moving on to new and better games offering any glimmer of sunshine.
uproot some plants vs. zombies links:
– walkthrough at gamefaqs
– guide to all plants, zombies, and modes at IGN
– apparently there’s a plants vs. zombies wiki and a youtube channel (?!)
– entry at wikipedia
– this article at edge-online.com has some mildly interesting comments on how popcap creates motivation to keep playing the game, and says that according to popcap their sales of the game “are an equal 50/50 split between core gamers and broader audiences”. hmm.