How to win at Plants vs Zombies
30th Sep 2012 | 11:00
We talk to the makers of the game
If you're familiar with I Am Legend, Plants vs. Zombies is conceptually a bit like that tale, with a stoic hero fending off the undead.
There are some minor changes from that classic set-up, however, in that the zombies in PopCap's iOS classic are goofy and oddly adorable, rather than scary; oh, and you're armed to the teeth with plants rather than guns. Maybe environmentalists took over the weapons factory or something.
In the game, zombies attack in waves, stumbling along 'lanes' formed by the likes of mown grass and roof tiles. It's down to you to stop them reaching your home and eating your brains.
"Plants vs. Zombies is really a tower defence game, and so it's all about building a good defence and picking the right arsenal of plants to do so," explains Guillan. So in this playing guide, Guillan gives us his insider tips on the best use of aggressive plants, how to defeat pesky zombies, and mastering the game's level types and mini-games.
Vicious plant life: a guide
On the game's options screen, The Suburban Almanac is propped up against a hefty gravestone, and it's worth a read. When a new plant is unlocked, you can tap its thumbnail for an overview of the damage it causes, its recharge rate (that is, the delay before you can plant another of that type) and the cost involved in planting one.
However, the bulk of the game involves knowing when best to use each type of plant. When starting out, Guillan recommends planting at least two columns of Sunflowers to harvest plenty of sun, which is used to buy more plants. Peashooters should then be placed near the back, next to the Sunflowers. "You can also use Potato Mines to buy yourself time to plant Sunflowers. They do cost 25 suns, but give you a chance to grow your Sunflower economy," he adds.
Another stalling tactic comes by way of the Wall-nuts, sturdy plants that zombies take a long time to munch through. They're particularly useful when you're told 'A huge wave of zombies is approaching' and need time to grow defences. Guillan reckons setting a Cherry Bomb or Squash on the space behind a Wall-nut is a useful tactic, enabling you to take out quite a few zombies at once. Tall-nuts and Pumpkins can also be used to delay zombies, especially on tougher levels.
Elsewhere, Guillan recommends getting to know the Snow Pea, which he says is "very versatile and useful for many levels, because it slows zombies down", and the Puff-shroom, which is "essential in night levels, considering you don't need suns to plant one". Their fast cool-down rate also means you can plant new Puff-shrooms often.
Additionally, you should experiment with combinations of plants - Guillan reckons Wall-nuts and Spikeweeds or Threepeaters and Torchwoods are "magic". In the former case, a Wall-nut stalls zombies on a Spikeweed, injuring them; the latter pair results in flaming peas heading towards incoming zombies.
Finally, Guillan recommends the Magnet-shroom (unlocked on level 4-8) for dealing with Buckethead zombies, Football zombies, Screen Door zombies, Ladder zombies and Jack-in-the-box zombies.
During the game, you'll gather coins (which can also be bought using IAP), and these can be spent at Crazy Dave's Twiddydinkies. Dave wears a saucepan on his head and is, as his name suggests, crazy. But his 'twiddydinkies' (or 'items in stock' as they'd otherwise be known) are of interest.
"They are all awesome, and it's tough to suggest one over another, but I can tell you which to use in specific levels," says Guillan. "For any day and pool level, Gatling Pea is a killer. For night and fog levels, Gloom-shroom is great. Cattail is handy for pool and fog levels, and Winter Melon is particularly useful on roof levels. Spikerock is your guy against Zomboni (a zombie riding an ice re-surfacer) and Gargantuar (a giant, monstrous zombie). And the Imitater is basically magic throughout the game, because it enables you to use two of the same plant in a level."
Guillan reckons fog and roof levels can be particularly tough, but progress can be eased using certain plants. For fog levels, he explains you can use night plants, so make the most of that: "Planterns protected by Pumpkins are your best friends here, because they'll help you see. Blover does get rid of the fog, but you need 100 suns to buy one plant."
For roof levels, most of the plants you'll have used to that point will no longer be useful, so you'll need to build a strategy around '-pult' plants, such as Cabbage pult, Kernel-pult and Melon-pult.
"Level 5 of the roof stage is one of the toughest in the game," he says. "To get through it, build two columns of Chompers, because they eat through zombies two rows away. Protect them with Pumpkins and save some Cherry Bombs, because they're great for 'Damn it, I need to kill some zombies quick!' panic moments."
Although Adventure Mode is the main mission in Plants vs. Zombies, there's plenty to do once your flora-based assault has bested Dr Zomboss. On the iPad, there's an endless survival mode, which Guillan says requires you to have "a good arsenal of plants before starting out," adding that those you can buy from Crazy Dave are hugely useful here.
He also provided tips for three of the mini-games that can be found lurking in the 'More ways to play' section…
I, Zombie: This is a puzzle mode where you 'plant' zombies rather than plants. To begin with, target sunflowers and keep an eye out for Magnet-shrooms and Threepeaters. When a plant is in your way and messing with your strategy, use a Bungee zombie.
Vase Breaker: Here you smash vases, and each releases a plant or a zombie. Although you need good luck, success also depends on keeping your defences balanced - don't put plants in the middle and don't break too many vases too quickly. Also keep in mind that the Squash is a great ally, because it can take down multiple zombies and Gargantuar!
Slot Machine: Another slightly luck orientated mini-game, Slot Machine gives you a sun target, but each spin costs 25 suns. You get plants for pairs (or better) in the slot machine, so initially keep using it until you've built a strong defence. Plant Sunflowers and Peashooters at the back, and protect them with Wall-nuts. Then stop spinning and start collecting suns.