How to win at Plants vs Zombies

We talk to the makers of the game

How to win at Plants vs Zombies

If you're familiar with I Am Legend, Plants vs. Zombies is conceptually a bit like that tale, with a stoic hero fending off the undead.

There are some minor changes from that classic set-up, however, in that the zombies in PopCap's iOS classic are goofy and oddly adorable, rather than scary; oh, and you're armed to the teeth with plants rather than guns. Maybe environmentalists took over the weapons factory or something.

In the game, zombies attack in waves, stumbling along 'lanes' formed by the likes of mown grass and roof tiles. It's down to you to stop them reaching your home and eating your brains.

"Plants vs. Zombies is really a tower defence game, and so it's all about building a good defence and picking the right arsenal of plants to do so," explains Guillan. So in this playing guide, Guillan gives us his insider tips on the best use of aggressive plants, how to defeat pesky zombies, and mastering the game's level types and mini-games.

Vicious plant life: a guide

hectic grab

On the game's options screen, The Suburban Almanac is propped up against a hefty gravestone, and it's worth a read. When a new plant is unlocked, you can tap its thumbnail for an overview of the damage it causes, its recharge rate (that is, the delay before you can plant another of that type) and the cost involved in planting one.

However, the bulk of the game involves knowing when best to use each type of plant. When starting out, Guillan recommends planting at least two columns of Sunflowers to harvest plenty of sun, which is used to buy more plants. Peashooters should then be placed near the back, next to the Sunflowers. "You can also use Potato Mines to buy yourself time to plant Sunflowers. They do cost 25 suns, but give you a chance to grow your Sunflower economy," he adds.

Another stalling tactic comes by way of the Wall-nuts, sturdy plants that zombies take a long time to munch through. They're particularly useful when you're told 'A huge wave of zombies is approaching' and need time to grow defences. Guillan reckons setting a Cherry Bomb or Squash on the space behind a Wall-nut is a useful tactic, enabling you to take out quite a few zombies at once. Tall-nuts and Pumpkins can also be used to delay zombies, especially on tougher levels.

night level

Elsewhere, Guillan recommends getting to know the Snow Pea, which he says is "very versatile and useful for many levels, because it slows zombies down", and the Puff-shroom, which is "essential in night levels, considering you don't need suns to plant one". Their fast cool-down rate also means you can plant new Puff-shrooms often.

Additionally, you should experiment with combinations of plants - Guillan reckons Wall-nuts and Spikeweeds or Threepeaters and Torchwoods are "magic". In the former case, a Wall-nut stalls zombies on a Spikeweed, injuring them; the latter pair results in flaming peas heading towards incoming zombies.

Finally, Guillan recommends the Magnet-shroom (unlocked on level 4-8) for dealing with Buckethead zombies, Football zombies, Screen Door zombies, Ladder zombies and Jack-in-the-box zombies.

water level

During the game, you'll gather coins (which can also be bought using IAP), and these can be spent at Crazy Dave's Twiddydinkies. Dave wears a saucepan on his head and is, as his name suggests, crazy. But his 'twiddydinkies' (or 'items in stock' as they'd otherwise be known) are of interest.

"They are all awesome, and it's tough to suggest one over another, but I can tell you which to use in specific levels," says Guillan. "For any day and pool level, Gatling Pea is a killer. For night and fog levels, Gloom-shroom is great. Cattail is handy for pool and fog levels, and Winter Melon is particularly useful on roof levels. Spikerock is your guy against Zomboni (a zombie riding an ice re-surfacer) and Gargantuar (a giant, monstrous zombie). And the Imitater is basically magic throughout the game, because it enables you to use two of the same plant in a level."