Plants vs Zombies: 10 Years On

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There’s a zombie on your lawn!

Without a doubt, Plants vs Zombies (PvZ) is one of the games that will always have a special place in my heart. I still remember spending hours and hours after school trying to defeat Dr. Zomboss, taking care of my plants in the zen garden, and testing my mettle in the Last Stand game mode.

This year, PvZ celebrates its 10th anniversary, so in honor of the game that shaped many childhoods, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at Plants vs Zombies. Upon its release, Plants vs Zombies was a game-changer, and it continues to offer the same timeless experience today.

When Pop Cap released PvZ on May 5, 2009, it became an instant smash-hit. The game was praised by players and critics alike for its innovation in gameplay and unforgettable soundtrack.

Zombies can attack the plants!

To put it simply, PvZ is a Tower Defense (TD) game. However, unlike most TD games at the time that had enemy units trekking a path towards the hero’s base while the player placed towers on the roadside to destroy those units, PvZ brought the action to the towers (and players), themselves. In the game, players placed plants that would fire projectiles at the opposing zombies who really wanted to eat the player’s brain.

The twist? The zombies were walking down the same lane as the plants, meaning that the defense that Players put up could be destroyed by the zombies. Combined with the different challenges presented by each level, it added another dimension to the TD genre and forced players to think carefully about how they would both kill the zombies and stop their plants from getting eaten.

An extra challenge presented by the fog level

This new style of TD was well-translated into two game modes: Adventure mode and “More Ways to Play”. Adventure mode presented players with unique challenges for each level while introducing the ensemble of plants that protected the lawn.

For example, the fog level had half of the field covered in smoke while the roof level had an incline that rendered non-catapult plants useless. Each level, the player would be introduced to a new plant and a new zombie. Adventure mode allowed players to familiarize themselves with the mechanics of the game and to test their problem-solving abilities on the lawn.

Play as the zombie in I, Zombie

On the other hand, the “More Ways to Play” game mode stretched the limits of the PvZ concept while providing players with endless hours of fun. Under this mode, we have puzzle games like I, Zombie, where the player plays as the zombie, mini-games like Zombotany where zombies have plants on their heads, the relaxing zen garden, and endless survival. Each of these game modes presented a unique challenge to players, allowing them to face scenarios otherwise absent in adventure mode.

Aside from its unique gameplay, PvZ also boasted an impeccable soundtrack. Composed by Laura Shigihara, the light, and slightly haunting music fit snugly with the game’s cute art-style and were perfect for keeping the player on their toes as waves of zombies descended upon their lawn. To cap it all off, the song “There’s a Zombie on Your Lawn” played at the end of Adventure mode became an instant hit among players and made finishing PvZ all the more rewarding.

While the game dazzled players upon its release, it continues to hold its own until today. PvZ stands as a timeless classic, with a community that still as passionate about the game as they were when it released. PvZ features 48 unique plants, so there’s no limit to the amount of strategies players can employ to defeat zombies. To this day, streamers and speedrunners continue to breathe life into the game by utilizing different styles of play. For example, one strategy for Survival: Endless is to convert the entire lawn into an army of cob cannons to continuously rain fire on zombies.

Aside from coming up with new and creative strategies, players today are also testing the limits of the game. To illustrate, some streamers have tried to complete the game without planting sun-producing plants. In fact, Youtuber Shyguymask has successfully completed the challenge (although it requires a bit of luck). You can find his video on it below.

Looking back, it’s highly unlikely that we’re ever going to see a game like Plants vs Zombies again. Upon its release, it was one of the most innovative games of its time. After 10 years, the game is still alive as ever, with an extremely active player base. So far, PvZ has stood the test of time, and whenever I play it today, the game delivers the same, timeless fun I experienced ten years ago.

You can download PvZ for free on Android and iOS. You can also play PvZ on PC, and consoles. For more information, check out Pop cap’s PvZ page here.

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