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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 iPhone Main menu
Plants vs. Zombies Android Defending your... graveyard?
Plants vs. Zombies iPhone Defending the backyard pool
Plants vs. Zombies iPad The zombies got you! Try again?

Promo Images

Plants vs. Zombies Screenshot
Plants vs. Zombies Screenshot
Plants vs. Zombies Screenshot
Plants vs. Zombies Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • " プラント vs. ゾンビ" -- Japanese spelling
  • "PvZ" -- Common abbreviation
  • "Plants vs. Zombies HD" -- iPad title
  • "Plants vs. Zombies: Game of the Year Edition" -- Updated Origin/Steam PC release title
  • "Plantes contre Zombies" -- French title
  • "Pflanzen gegen Zombies: Game-of-the-Year-Edition" -- Updated Origin/Steam PC German release title
  • "Pflanzen gegen Zombies" -- German title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

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 (1950)

Critic Reviews

Pocket Gamer UK Nintendo DS Jan 18, 2011 9 out of 10 90 (UK) iPhone Feb 15, 2010 9 out of 10 90
NZGamer iPad Aug 20, 2010 9 out of 10 90 iPad May 11, 2010 86 out of 100 86 iPhone Feb 12, 2010 85 out of 100 85
NintendoWorldReport Nintendo DS Feb 17, 2011 8.5 out of 10 85 Xbox 360 Sep 30, 2010 15 out of 20 75 PlayStation 3 Feb 24, 2011 15 out of 20 75
Pocket Magazine / Pockett Videogames PS Vita Apr 16, 2012 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
Gameplay (Benelux) Nintendo DS May 27, 2011 Unscored Unscored


Topic # Posts Last Post
Origin is giving this for free 1 chirinea (46640)
May 09, 2014
Tree of Wisdom 1 Xoleras (66522)
Jun 09, 2009
Screenshots resolution too high 15 Geamandura (2323)
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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Contributed to by Mister-k81 (410), CrankyStorming (3003), firefang9212 (73957), Sciere (710760), Kabushi (255982) and Macs Black (80143)