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Plants vs. Zombies belongs to the "tower defense" sub-genre of casual games, where the objective is to deploy a series of stationary weapons to protect a structure against hordes of enemies. Plants provide the artillery, and can be bought with sun power, the game's currency. The enemies are zombies invading a suburban lawn. At the start of each level, the player starts to plant the available seeds on the lawn in a strategic manner. Zombies slowly begin to appear from the street at the right side, just a few initially, and must be destroyed before they can reach the house on the other side. Sun power icons falls from the sky randomly, and must be collected with the mouse to increase the funds. The sunflower can be planted to generate extra units of sun power, but doesn't have any attack power against the invading undead. Besides their cost, the seed packs take some time to recharge after being used.

There are several types of offensive plants available. Pea shooters are the basic variety, spitting a projectile forwards every few seconds. Variations appear later in the game, shooting several peas at the same time and freezing the enemies, making them move slower. The carnivorous plant gobbles up a zombie when he gets near its gaping mouth, but takes some time to do so, becoming ineffective while busy digesting the corpse. The cherry bomb explodes after being deployed, carbonizing any of the undead surrounding its landing spot. The potato mine is half-buried with a sensor sticking from the top, and detonates when one of the walking dead steps on it. Plants can be removed with the shovel to make space for new ones.

Mini-games appear from time to time. There are twenty of them, and most are parodies of well-known casual titles: ZomBotany (1 and 2), Wall-nut Bowling (1 and 2), Slot Machine, It's Raining Seeds, Beghouled, Invisi-ghoul, Seeing Stars, Zombiquarium, Beghouled Twist, Big Trouble Little Zombie, Portal Combat, Column Like You See 'Em, Bobsled Bonanza, Zombie Nimble Zombie Quick, Whack a Zombie, Last Stand, Pogo Party, and Dr. Zomboss's Revenge. After being played once, they become available directly from the main menu.

The game has three gameplay modes. In the main adventure mode, levels get progressively more difficult, and at the end of each one the player receives a new plant for the arsenal. Puzzle mode has two variations: "Vasebreaker", where the goal is to break the vases scattered on the lawn, to uncover plants or zombies and use the former to fight the latter, and "I, Zombie", where the player controls the zombies against the plants. In survival mode, the zombies attack in turns. After each turn, the player can choose plants from the arsenal. There are three types of survival: normal (one wave per turn, 5 turns) on each of the five maps, hard (two waves per turn, 5 turns) on each of the five maps, and endless (two waves per turn, endless amount of turns) on the pool map.

The Zen Garden stores all the available plants, where they have to be tended, watered, fertilized, sprayed for bugs and listen to music. When they are happy, they drop coins that can be used to buy more plants and other garden additions.


Plants vs. Zombies iPad It's mayhem! On this level you choose plants that arrive on the conveyor belt at the top of the screen
Plants vs. Zombies Windows Zombie note
Plants vs. Zombies Windows Final wave
Plants vs. Zombies iPhone Defending the backyard pool

Alternate Titles

  • " プラント vs. ゾンビ" -- Japanese spelling
  • "PvZ" -- Common abbreviation
  • "Plants vs. Zombies HD" -- iPad title
  • "Plantes contre Zombies" -- French title
  • "Pflanzen gegen Zombies" -- German title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Dr. Zomboss Rules Them All! iPhone Lady T-Dawg (719)
Hilarious and very addictive strategy game Windows Ferragus (48)
Gardening has never been so much fun. Windows dreamstealer (146)
Supreme in its mediocrity Windows Alex Z (1593)

Critic Reviews

The Video Game Critic Xbox 360 Oct 30, 2010 A 100
1UP Windows May 08, 2009 A- 91
Cheat Code Central Windows 2009 4.5 out of 5 90
NZGamer iPad Aug 20, 2010 9 out of 10 90
GamingEvolution Xbox 360 Oct 22, 2010 9 out of 10 90
Game Over Online Windows May 28, 2009 83 out of 100 83
Inside Mac Games (IMG) Macintosh Jul 23, 2009 8.25 out of 10 82
PSN Stores PlayStation 3 Feb 18, 2011 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Jeuxvideo.com Xbox 360 Sep 30, 2010 15 out of 20 75
PlayStation Lifestyle PS Vita Feb 22, 2012 7.5 out of 10 75


Topic # Posts Last Post
Origin is giving this for free 1 chirinea (36396)
May 09, 2014
Tree of Wisdom 1 Xoleras (66023)
Jun 09, 2009
Screenshots resolution too high 15 MtFR (2140)
Jun 08, 2009


1001 Video Games

Plant vs. Zombies appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


One of the online banner advertisements of the game launched in July 2009 is a spoof of the way the browser game Evony was advertised. An overview of the development regarding the original Evony advertising can be found here, while the PopCap spoof can be viewed here.

Bonus games

The retail PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, besides including the game itself, also include two other PopCap titles as a bonus. The PS3 release includes Peggle and Heavy Weapon, while the Xbox 360 version keeps Peggle and replaces Heavy Weapon with Zuma.

Dancing Zombie

The so-called Dancing Zombie, a homage to singer Michael Jackson, had to be removed after Jackson's death. He was replaced with a seventies disco zombie.


Plants vs. Zombies began life as a sequel to the company's previously released Insaniquarium; an action game in which players defend an aquarium of fish against invading aliens. According to the game's creator, George Fan, "We knew we wanted to significantly change up the gameplay for the sequel. [...] During that time I was also playing a lot of tower defense games in Warcraft III, and realized that they had this innate appeal that made me think of fond childhood memories like building forts out of sofa cushions and watching Swiss Family Robinson. I really wanted to capture that appeal, and once I realized that plants and zombies made a much better theme for this game than fish and aliens, I shifted from creating a sequel into creating a whole new game."


  • 1UP
    • 2009 - Best Strategy Game (Editors' Choice)
    • 2009 - Best Strategy Game (Readers' Choice)
  • 4Players
    • 2009 – #3 Best Strategy Game of the Year
    • 2009 – #3 Most Humorous Game of the Year
    • 2010 – Best Xbox Live Arcade Game of the Year
  • AceGamez
    • 2009 - Best Strategy Game
  • GameShark
    • 2009 - Best Casual Game
  • Gamespy
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year
    • 2009 - Best Use of a Cliched Concept
    • 2011 – #13 Top PC Game of the 2000s
  • Machinima
    • 2009 - Best Downloadable Game
  • Yahoo
    • 2009 - Best Casual Game
Information also contributed by Agent 5, Big John WV and M4R14N0.

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