Plants vs Zombie Game Review

9 min read

I’m sure most of you have played (or heard of) the game Plants vs Zombie before.  Since its launch in 2009, Plants vs Zombie has kept many people busy for hours.  Players are challenged to unlock the different levels by fighting zombies with the use of plants.

The backyard, lawnmowers, garden plants and the tsunami of zombies were a familiar sight when I was hooked on this game. 

But I’ve always wondered about the plants featured in the game, were they created out of the game designer’s imagination?  Or were the plants designed solely for aesthetic & merchandising purposes? How do these plants measure up scientifically?

Here’s a review of 6 featured plants, ranked based on my personal favourites!

1. Chomper

What it does:

Ability to eat zombies at a close range. Immediately chomps down a zombie but takes its time to digest. During chomping, other zombies can devour it, making it extremely vulnerable.

The Chomper is inspired by the Venus flytrap – a carnivorous plant.

Carnivorous plants derive some or most of their nutrients from trapping and consuming animals, typically insects.  It lures insects such as ants and flies, into the jaws of its trap. The trap typically has a reddish interior and a gland that secretes nectar along its rims, tricking insects into thinking they have found a flower (sneaky sneaky…). The digestion process takes several days to a week to complete, depending on the size of the insect.

“Eating zombies” meant that the chomper falls under the classification of a carnivorous plant. The razor-sharp teeth and slow digestion of zombies, closely resembles the features of a Venus flytrap.

Scientific accuracy:

5/5 zombies. YES, zombies wouldn’t want to mess around with the Chomper.

2. Bonk Choy

What it does:

Punches zombies once every 0.25 seconds, delivering 15 damage per second (DPS) if you do the math. From its name, you can tell that it is named after the Chinese cabbage, bak choy. Still clueless? Here’s a picture.

You’ve probably eaten Bak Choy so many times but don’t know the name.

You bet, Bonk Choy is one of my favourites to use during a zombie wave! Because…

It packs a punch (no pun intended)! Bak choy contains a substantial amount of vitamins A, C and K.  It is also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and iron! Eating bak choy can help to reduce the risk of heart diseases, promote good heart health, and it is an excellent source of fibre with cancer-fighting compounds.

Scientific accuracy:

5/5 zombies. Bak choy, the vegetable helps fight against diseases and health issues, just like how Bonk Choy, the plant combats against zombies effectively. YES YES YES.

3. Garlic

What it does:

Repels zombies to another lane when a zombie bites into it.

The aromatic smell of freshly fried garlic is heavenly for most of us, but the aftertaste or rather the garlic breath is what puts most of us off.   What causes garlic breath?

When a clove of garlic is chopped or crushed, it causes an enzyme called alliinase to come into contact with alliin, both of which are found separately in garlic cells. The alliin gets broken down by alliinase into alliicin, which is unstable and easily breaks down further into four major organic compounds that contribute to the garlic smell in your breath:

  • Diallyl disulphide
  • Allyl mercaptan
  • Allyl methyl disulphide
  • Allyl methyl sulphide – this compound can linger in your body for hours (ooohh nasty!)

The more finely chopped the garlic is, the more “potent” it gets.

Scientific accuracy:

5/5 zombies.  An excellent natural repellent that is bound to make people (or in this case zombies) avoid you.

4. Wall-Nut

What it does:

Their hard shells act as a defence wall when planted.

No points for guessing that this plant resembles the walnuts that we usually eat.  But are walnuts really that hardy?

*Drum rolls* Yes, it’s true!

A study has shown that walnut shells have irregularly contoured lobes when viewed under a microscope. And these irregularities fit nicely together to form an intricate and robust pattern. Because of this, walnut shells have a higher tensile strength as compared to other nuts like peanuts or almonds!

Scientific accuracy:

5/5 zombies. Looks seemingly like the real thing, does its job well in creating a wall. Well done to the (punny) person who named it!

5. Jalapeno

What it does:

Eliminates, burns and chars all the zombies within the lane where it is planted. Only suitable for a single-use.

Some people would shout out “MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!!” after accidentally biting down on chilli.  Do jalapenos give off the same effect?

Not really… *cues mind blown gesture*

Let’s go back to the basics, capsaicin is what gives hot peppers their spiciness. In the Scoville Scale, the heat unit range of jalapenos is 5,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), which is considered pretty low on the scale.

Scientific accuracy:

3/5 zombies. Awarded an extra zombie because there are people out there who cannot take spicy food (I’m not naming people here) and would think that jalapenos are the on the extreme end of spicy. #teamspice woohoo!

6. Sunflower

What it does:

Produces sunlight so that you can add on more plants in your zombie fights.

Here’s the thing… We all know plants use photosynthesis to make food, making use of carbon dioxide in the air, light, nutrients from the soil, and water. During the process of photosynthesis, plants release oxygen into the air.

Scientific accuracy:

1/5 zombie. Although sunflower plays an essential role in the game, we are all aware that they do not produce sunlight.  1 zombie was awarded for the artistic representation (it looks like a real sunflower).

So, how well did our featured plants fare? With all the hype about the game, did it live up to the expectations, in terms of entertainment value or scientific accuracy??  Here’s an overall rating, neatly summarised for your consideration. 

Overall Rating:

Scientific accuracy:

4/5 zombies. Some hits and misses, but overall still very similar in terms of its appearance and characteristics.

Entertainment value:

5/5 zombies. Definitely worth playing especially when you need to kill a couple of hours in the plane during your flight or while you’re doing a number 2 on your throne.

Price:

5/5 zombies. It’s free on the Apple Store & Google Play, doesn’t leave a hole in your wallet!

Of course, there are also many other plants that weren’t featured here so maybe it is time for you  to pick out your own favourites and determine the science behind them as well! You can comment in the comments section below with your favourite and the science behind it!

Written by Joyce Lee
Illustrations by Toh Bee Suan
Images from Plants vs Zombies