Plants vs Zombies is a tower defense and strategy video game developed and originally published by PopCap Games for Windows and OS X in May 2009, and ported to consoles, handhelds, mobile devices, and remastered versions for personal computers.
In Plants vs. Zombies, the player takes the role of a homeowner in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. To defend their home from zombies, some of which have unique abilities, the player uses plants that can fire projectiles at, or have other detrimental effects on, the horde of advancing zombies. The player collects “sun” with which defending plants can be bought. Zombies approach along several parallel lanes on the lawn, and the player must plant defenses in these lanes. If a zombie makes it to the house on any lane, the level is over.
Director George Fan was inspired to make the game after playing other tower defense titles and desiring to eliminate the typical strategies of sending advancing enemies through mazes of defenses, instead of adapting the lane approach to remove this strategy.
The game received critical acclaim and was nominated for multiple Interactive Achievement Awards, alongside receiving praise for its musical score. It was followed by two direct sequels and a comic series, Plants vs. Zombies 2, released in 2013 for iOS and Android, Plants vs. Zombies 3, released in 2020; three third-person shooters, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, its sequel and Battle for Neighborville, and a digital collectible card game, Plants vs. Zombies Heroes.
Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense and strategy video game where the player has to defend their house from zombies. The player places different types of plants and fungi on the field, generally stylized as a lawn, to defend their house against the zombies. The playing field is divided into a grid of five horizontal rows and a varied amount of columns. Each plant has a different style of defense, such as shooting or exploding on impact. Zombies also have their own gimmick, with certain plants being stronger at conquering each one. The player can only pick a limited amount of plants during each level, and each plant costs “sun” to place. Sun is collected by either clicking on ones that randomly generate over the lawn, or that is generated by certain plants, like Sunflowers and Sunshrooms. If zombies reach the right edge of the lane, they can be mowed down by a lawnmower at the end of each row, clearing all zombies in its path. If the zombie reaches the end of the lane and the lawnmower has already been used, the player has to start the level over.
There are five stages in Adventure Mode in Plants vs. Zombies, each divided into ten levels. Starting on the first level of stage two (level 2-1), zombies will sometimes drop money when killed. The money can be spent at “Crazy Dave’s TwinkyDinkys”, that offers boosts that players use to upgrade placed plants and gardening tools for the player’s Zen Garden. The Zen Garden has the player water and maintain a group of plants that are randomly dropped after a zombie is killed. In return, the plants give the player money. The fifth level of every stage has a mini-game challenge, and the tenth level of every stage has plants being given to the player through a conveyor belt. Certain stages come with specific themes, each with limitations to standard gameplay. For example, one of the stages takes place on the roof, and simple shooter type plants are ineffective due to the roof being slanted up to the middle. Additionally, there are no lawnmowers, but an alternative can be purchased at Crazy Dave’s TwiddyDinkies. The last level is against Dr. Zomboss, the scientist who animated the zombies. He crushes the player’s plants with his Zombot’s feet, and sends fire and ice balls that roll across a lane, which can be subdued by certain plants.
After beating Adventure Mode, the player can choose to play through Adventure Mode again, this time with the plants unlocked during the previous course of playing Adventure Mode and Crazy Dave choosing three of the plants. There are three game modes the player can also play after beating Adventure Mode: Mini-games, Puzzles, and Survival. In Mini-games, the player selects from twenty levels. The levels pose the player with many unique challenges that use some sort of gimmick. Before beating Adventure Mode, the player can play three mini-game levels after collecting a gift box in level 3-2. In Puzzles, the player can play two types of levels, Vasebreaker and I, Zombie. In Vasebreaker, the player breaks open a set of vases that can contain either a plant or a zombie. The game ends when all the vases are smashed and all the zombies have been killed. In I, Zombie, the player places zombies to get past pre-placed cardboard cut-outs of plants to eat the brain at the other side of each lane. Survival offers the player a selection of levels that have the player choose plants between each wave to fight increasingly harder waves of zombies.