A Walkthrough and Player's Guide for Plants vs. Zombies


This is a comprehensive strategy guide to PopCap's popular casual game Plants vs. Zombies.   Readable in any standard browser (approximately equivalent to 73 printed pages), with about 40 color illustrations (mostly full screenshots).   Covers all of the Adventure levels, Puzzles, Minigames, Survival levels, and Achievements of the regular PC version.

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A free excerpt:

Up on the Housetop -- The Roof Levels


Level 5-1 begins the Roof levels. It's daytime again, so sun will fall from the sky and you will also need Sunflowers. Zombies are now trying to get in through your chimney. The rooftop is the hardest of the five environments, because you cannot use some of your best weapons: Cattails, Spikeweed, and Spikerock. The Roof is also angled, and the regular shooters (Peashooter, Repeater, Cactus, etc.) will only reach one square forward if they're placed in the four leftmost columns, so don't bother choosing them (you would need to plant them well to the right). Instead you'll need to use catapult weapons (Cabbage-pults in the earlier levels, Kernel-pults later, Melon-pults in 5-9). You cannot plant anything on the roof unless there is a Flower Pot there, and you don't even have seeds for them until level 5-2. Luckily 5-1 is a short and easy level and starts with five columns of Pots already planted. Flower Pots are exactly like Lily Pads: they are cheap and recharge quickly, and you'll need a steady supply. [Strangely enough, Flower Pots are also plants, and zombies will eat them after they eat whatever is planted in them.]   Shooters which shoot backwards (Starfruit and Split Pea) will continue to hit zombies moving down the slope of the roof until they reach the third column, at which point peas and stars will fly over the zombies' heads.

You will also face, even in the very first level, a dangerous new hazard, Bungee zombies, which drop from the sky and can land anywhere in your defenses. You only have a brief warning (a cry from the zombies and targets marking where they are about to drop), and no reliable defense until level 5-7. Bungees come in two varieties. I call the first Stealing Bungees (these show up in the level preview), which show a bullseye target, then drop down and steal a plant, and disappear. You can destroy them with a well-placed Cherry Bomb or Jalapeño if you do it quickly. The second kind, which I call Dropping Bungees (they do not show up in the preview), show a shadow where they are about to land, then drop down and start eating plants as normal. These might be regular, Conehead, or Buckethead zombies, depending on the kinds of zombies in the preview. Two of the most useful plants, Umbrella Leaves and Melon-pults, are not found until the later Roof levels.

On your second time through the Adventure, you should always choose Sunflower, Flower Pot, and Melon-pult if they are not among the three plants preselected by Crazy Dave. Umbrella Leaf should be chosen, if you have space, at least in levels with Catapults or Stealing Bungees. Since Melon-pults take a while to build up, you need either Potato Mine or Squash (to help with early zombies while you build up Sunflowers and Sun) or Cabbage-pult (to get something in each lane until you can plant Melon-pults). You should also usually choose Tall-nut, though you may want or need to skip it in some levels (particularly 5-6, where the zombies are light and Tall-nut will not help against Catapult zombies). If Crazy Dave gives you a Kernel-pult in the later levels (5-7 through 5-9), you might try and find a slot for Cob Cannon, especially in 5-8 and 5-9 where you face Gargantuars.

Level 5-1

You can only plant in the first five columns. You will face regular and Conehead zombies and both kinds of Bungees. You can't do much about Bungees yet except to replant what they steal, unless you can time a Cherry Bomb or Jalapeño perfectly. You need Sunflowers and Cabbage-pults (which hurl cabbages which cause twice the damage of a pea, killing a plain zombie with five hits). I would suggest Potato Mines, Cherry Bombs, Jalapeños, Squash, Tall-nuts, and Pumpkins. Plant as many Sunflowers and Cabbage as you can; you might need to use a Mine or two early until you have enough Sun. Put a row of Tall-nuts and eventually Pumpkins in the front (column 5). You will probably have to plant three rows of attacking plants eventually, digging up Sunflowers in the third column and replacing them with Cabbage-pults. If a Stealing Zombie targets an empty Flower Pot, you should instantly drop a plant there; it is better to lose a plant than to permanently lose a Flower Pot (this advice only applies to 5-1, as Flower Pots are easy to replace starting in 5-2). You will find seeds for Flower Pot.

The second time through, you can use Flower Pot, Umbrella Leaf, and Melon-pult. Tall-nut is not necessary.

Crazy Dave has new items for sale. You should buy Roof Cleaners immediately for $3,000 -- they work just like Lawnmowers and Pool Cleaners (as usual, make sure you have a Rake too). You'll start making some of the cost back immediately, as you get $50 per unused Roof Cleaner at the end of each Roof level (up to $250 per level), just as with mowers and Pool Cleaners. Even the early Roof levels might be difficult without Roof Cleaners; without them, my first time through the game, it took six tries to win level 5-4. Spikerocks and Gold Magnets are also available, but Spikerocks are useless on the Roof (they will be very useful when you play Bobsled Bonanza and start playing Survival levels), and Gold Magnets are a luxury -- you can buy these both later when you have plenty of money.

Most recently edited on July 8, 2011.   This article is copyright © 2011 by Michael Keller.  All rights reserved.