I never quite got around to polishing off the desktop version of Plants Vs. Zombies. So, when the game appeared in the iPhone App store for the wallet-friendly price of three dollars, I downloaded it and set to work righting that wrong.
Now I'm regretting doing so.
Plants Vs. Zombies is not a great tower defense game, especially when compared with far superior offerings like Fieldrunners or geoDefense Swarm. But what it has going for it is how all of these subtle elements like the catchy UFO-like sound that indicates that a zombie is approaching and the sauce pot that Dave the neighbor inexplicably wears on his head somehow, some way all cohere into an experience that worms its way into your, um, brains, and stays there.
It's bright. It's colorful. It's jaunty. In some way, PopCap has become the casual-game industry equivalent to Disney. They create these indelible, hooky experiences that feel safe and dangerous at once. It's the only place in the gaming universe that my mom and I share any common ground. Which is really saying something.
Unfortunately, despite the iPhone's prowess, and PopCap's prowess, Plants Vs. Zombies chugs to a halt whenever things get hectic. Get six or seven Peashooters shooting, get 10 or 11 zombies shambling about and things slow to an unplayable, unforgiveable crawl. I haven't seen this sort of slowdown since the Super Nintendo days.
Here's hoping that PopCap is working on an update at this very moment.
If you're considering a purchase, here's my advice: go with the PC or Mac version of the game until you hear otherwise.