There was a time years and years ago where I was innocent, and I hadn’t yet experienced the tower defense genre of games. I heard of Desktop Tower Defense, but I had no idea what it was, and, really, why would I play a game in my browser when I had multiple high-end game consoles to neglect. As far as the genre went, I had a vague understanding of what it was, but it wasn’t until late 2008 when I reviewed Defense Grid: The Awakening that I found out just what the genre entailed — and what addiction would haunt me for the rest of my days.
I’ll start this off by stating that I am most definitely a perfectionist, and tower defense games like Defense Grid and PixelJunk Monsters scratch an itch for me like no others can. There’s something… magical about finishing a level “perfectly,” meaning no power orbs or villagers are lost in a level. This would cause me to restart a level over and over (and over and over) again trying to find that perfect setup, that perfect string of events that allowed me to finish without a single casualty. Most of you would call that insane, I call it intoxicating.
It wasn’t long after reviewing Defense Grid that Plants vs. Zombies, from PopCap, was released to the wild. Sadly, this happened during my brief stint of living in Seattle when I barely had a job and definitely didn’t have any money to buy any games. Even so, when I was told that PvZ was a tower defense game made by the same people who developed the wonderfully addictive Bejeweled games, I knew I had to play it. Having played the full game so many times now, I don’t even remember what was in the demo, but I do remember that I played through it at least a couple dozen times.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I’ve thought the same thing all along: Plants vs. Zombies is a casual game! While it’s true that PvZ is easier and less demanding than something like Defense Grid, I’d hesitate to call it casual. My mom would get lost in the fog stages, and my sister, while quite the Zelda aficionado, would be cursing at the screen during the Zomboss fight — if the roof levels didn’t make her stop playing first. When you combine that ramp in difficulty with the number of one-off minigames and the survival modes crammed into the game, I’d have to say it’s quite more than your regular, casual PopCap fare. Of course, it’s not on the same level as a AAA title, but for folks like me with a little bit of a screw loose, it’s one of the best games out there.
Okay, scratch the “little bit.” I’ve got about 20 screws missing because I’ve bought Plants vs Zombies somewhere around 10 times now. I currently own a PC, an Xbox 360, a 3DS, a Vita, an iPhone and an iPad, and I’ve bought a version of PvZ on every single device. I’ve even bought the DS version twice because my cart got stolen alongside my old DS Lite, and when I noticed it was available on the 3DS eShop, I immediately downloaded it again. If an actual 3DS version ever gets released, I’ll have to download that one too, because… why stop now?
The reason I bring this all up is because while everyone and their mom has been talking about Mass Effect 3, and I’ve got recent releases like SSX, Kingdoms of Amalur and Final Fantasy XIII-2 on my shelf begging to be played, I’ve been sitting at my computer playing Plants vs Zombies on my Vita… and loving it. I beat the adventure mode over the weekend and jumped immediately into trying to earn all of the survival trophies. While I don’t feel the least bit bad about my addiction to the game, I do find it a bit odd that I’m here with my brand new device playing a 3-year-old game that I’ve played multiple times on every system I own and still enjoying it as much as I did when I was playing the demo.
There’s something to be said for such a well made game that scratches your itch just the way you want to. Now you know my guilty pleasure addiction, so I want to know yours. What games out there do you find yourself going back to or buying every time they’re released on another platform you own? Which game massages that pleasure center in your brain that you can lose hours or weekends to it even though it’s a few years old? Sound off in the comments or join the forum discussion!