Plants vs. Zombies – video game, 2009

 

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Plants vs. Zombies is a tower defense action video game developed and originally published by PopCap Games for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. The game involves a homeowner using a variety of plants to repel an army of invading zombies intent on “eating their brains”. It was first released on May 5, 2009.

A massive gaming hit, Plants vs. Zombies subsequently appeared in various updated incarnations on a version for iOS, an HD version for the iPad, and extended editions for Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation 3. An Android version of the game, exclusive to the Amazon Android App Store, was released on May 31, 2011. On February 16, 2012, a version was released for BlackBerry PlayBook.

Furthermore, both the original Windows and Mac version of the game have been re-released with additional content in a Game of the Year version. The game received a positive response from critics, and was nominated for multiple Interactive Achievement Awards, alongside receiving praise (?) for its repetitive musical score. A sequel was announced in August 2012 and is currently set for release in Spring 2013, possibly named Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare or simply Plants vs. Zombies 2.

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In Plants vs. Zombies, players place different types of plants and fungi, each with their own unique offensive or defensive capabilities, around a house in order to stop a horde of zombies from eating the brains of the residents. The playing field is divided into a number of horizontal lanes, and with rare exceptions, a zombie will only move towards the player’s house along one lane (the main exception is if it has taken a bite out of a garlic). Most plants can only attack or defend against zombies in the lane they are planted in. In later levels, players can purchase upgrades so as to adapt their lawn mower to new environments like pools or rooftops.

Plants vs. Zombies uses many cultural references in its names of stages and others. The gravestones’ inscriptions (“Expired”, “Ceased to Exist”, “Just Resting”, etc.) were taken from Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot sketch”.

Three of the mini-games—”Zombiquarium”, “Beghouled” and “Beghouled Twist”—take their names from two other PopCap games.

Originally, the dancing zombie resembled Michael Jackson from the music video Thriller. Though the Jackson-inspired zombie was present in the game before Jackson’s death, bizarrely, his estate objected to its inclusion more than a year after his death; PopCap agreed to remove the Jackson-inspired zombie and replaced it with a more generic disco-dancing one for all future patches and releases of the game. Ironically, a “disclaimer” in the game’s almanac states “Any resemblance between Dancing Zombie and any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.”

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