The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
There just isn't that much to say about Plants vs. Zombies on the DS. It's the entire brilliant game that we first saw on PC in 2009, and it works on a DS. Everything tangential to the gameplay, from the music to the graphics, has taken a hit in the process. On the other hand, the whole thing is here – from Crazy Dave's mad interjections to the brutal challenge of Endless Survival mode.
For those sequestered in the remote mountains of Chile who have just now heard of this Plants vs. Zombies thing, this is a lighthearted real-time strategy game that has you defending your lawn (and brains) against stumbling zombie hordes with a plethora of powerful but immobile plants. Spikeweed damages everyone who walks over it. Snow Peas slow down their targets. Cherry Bombs are one-shot explosives that reduce all zombies in a 3x3 square to ash. Experimenting with the dozens of plant types against the constantly shifting challenges of the main game's 50 levels, as well as the minigame, puzzle, and survival challenges, is one of the most refreshing and purely fun gaming experiences to be found in recent years.
As impressive as fitting all of this on a DS cartridge and maintaining a stable framerate on the aging handheld is, I strongly recommend picking PvZ up for a different platform if you have the choice. The PC, iOS, and Xbox Live Arcade versions (all of which I've bought separately, because the game is that good) all feature dramatically better presentations and interfaces.
The minigames exclusive to the DS version are five-minute distractions at best, just like the rest of the minigames. The best of them, Bomb All Together, throws waves of zombies at you and gives a limited supply of bomb-type plants to deal with them. The lamest, Heat Wave, has you slide around limited plants and (sigh) shout at the microphone to inspire them to greater heights of zombie ownage. Even so, they're not worth much entertainment in aggregate, as the strength of PvZ has always been in the core gameplay, not gimmicky one-off scenarios.
Plants vs. Zombies is a great game, but explore your options before committing to this version of it.
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