I hate to be the wet blanket who doesn’t like Zen Studio’s enthusiastic cheerful Plants vs Zombies table for Pinball FX2. But I don’t really have any choice. It’s more a matter of exhaustion than cynicism, or any sort of high pinball standards, or problems with the how the source material was adapted. On that last count, the Plants vs Zombies table is beyond reproach. It hits all the right notes from Popcap’s enthusiastic cheerful game. Even though this is a pretty superficial table, it manages to incorporate an admirable numbers of familiar concepts: sundrops, coins, various plants, various zombies, lawnmowers, Crazy Dave and his Gremlin, fog, the jack-in-the-box, and the chipper sunflower voiceover are all present.
But the table is just too darn long. I suspect Zen Studios intended it to be player friendly, designed to appeal to casual players unaccustomed to pinball. The result is minimal opportunities to lose the ball, lots of extra balls, frequent multiballs, and liberally activated kickbacks. Here is a table that does not want to let you stop playing. When you launch that first ball, expect to be here for at least a half hour. That is not an exaggeration. At least a half hour. You don’t even have to be good. That’s just how it’s going to happen. What an odd way to adapt a game played in short ebullient bursts.
Furthermore, the core mechanics of earning sundrops to make new plants and money to buy upgrades seems underdeveloped. I almost always have more sundrops that I know what to do with, and I can easily buy up Crazy Dave’s upgrades, which leaves me with nothing to do with my money but spend it on bacon for points. The handful of missions are clever enough, with actual zombies shambling around on the table, but there are too few of them. I don’t see any sign of long-term goals beyond the sheer endurance of letting your score rack up to 100,000,000, then 200,000,000, then 300,000,000. At a certain point, it feels as if the table has revealed all it’s going to reveal, and you’re just hanging fire watching numbers creep upwards. Sometimes casual gets you a bit too close to tedious.