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YMMV: Plants vs. Zombies
  • Awesome Music:
  • Broken Base: The second game causes some breakage - does it deserve to carry the name, or is it a dumbed-down Allegedly Free Game cash grab. Specifically, the mechanics of the challenge levels in the second game, where you start off with a few basic plants and can choose one of a randomly-selected three to add each level. Does it turn the game into a Luck-Based Mission and reward noobs, or does it give the game more interesting replay value and reward versatile players rather than "Stop Having Fun" Guys with Complacent Gaming Syndrome?
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Some players have pointed out that many plants are not very good except for a small handful, like Gloom Shrooms, Tall-Nuts, Cob Cannons, Blovers, and a small number of others, considering the mere amount of strategies that could be used to play this. This often comes more from those who've scored over 150 flags in Survival Endless than from standard play, in which they find a specific strategy and stick with it. Averted in the New Game+, where Crazy Dave will pick 3 plants at random that you have to pick (but not necessarily have to use).
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Plants vs. Zombies classic:
      • Gargantuars are large, powerful zombies that can instantly kill any plant (except the Spikerocks), are able to take a TON of damage, can survive instant-kill plants, and can deploy a small, albeit weaker zombie deep into your defenses. Fortunately for you, they are kind of slow...
      • Giga-Gargantuars are even worse. They take significantly more to kill, and have crazed red eyes. Notably, they were put into Survival: Endless because the regular ones were too easy for early play.
      • The Jack-in-the-Box Zombie can instantly destroy your defenses.
      • Zombonis. They cannot be slowed by Snow Peas and Wintermelons, nor can they be stopped by Ice-shrooms or Kernel-pults' butter. They squash all your plants in the way and they are freaking fast! To top it off, they leave an unplantable ice trail that needs to be melted with a jalapeno and said ice trail causes bobsled zombies to appear. Thankfully, Spikeweed and Spikerocks will finish them off in one hit should they run over one. And the ice disappears after a short period.
      • Pole-Vault and Dolphin-Rider Zombie can be EXTREMELY infuriating. Their abilities render defensive plants like Wall-Nut and Garlic useless. Take this advice, Tall-Nut is your friend. Or just place a cheap plant in front to force them to jump.
    • "I, Zombie":
      • Magnet-shrooms. They take away bucket heads, mining picks, ladders and football helmets, making many of your tougher and more expensive zombies get easily decimated. Starfruit and Threepeaters can attack other columns/rows, providing extra firepower and easily screwing up your imps should you choose to send them down a (seemingly) harmless row.
      • Kernel-pults, due to their random chance of throwing butter that stuns your zombies, can become these should the Random Number God choose to be nasty and cause them to constantly chuck butter. Coupled with snow peas that slow your zombies from reaching them, and you may have a nightmare on your hands.
    • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time:
      • In the Egypt zone, Explorer Zombies. Not very resilient, but they can one-hit-kill your plants and can be extremely dangerous if they hide behind a more resilient zombie.
      • Gargantuar Prime. If not killed fast, their Eye Beams can lay waste to your entire garden.
      • Gargatuars in general in the sequel move faster, making them even more dangerous. Luckily, Gargantuars usually only appear on the 8th level or the Zomboss battles of each world. Gargantuar Prime, however, appears in other levels in the Far Future. It does has an added vulnerability to the E.M.Peach, it's not much.
      • The Far Future in general has tons of these in addition to the above Gargantuar Prime. The Robo-Cone has obscenely high health and eats very fast, the Mecha-Football Zombie doesn't eat but pushes back plants, screwing up your layout and eliminating your back row, the Disco-tron 3000 constantly summons Jetpack Disco Zombies, and they can all withstand instant-kills more than once.
      • The Jester Zombie. It's a Lightning Bruiser that's considerably tougher and faster than your average zombie, being as tough as a Conehead but he moves faster. Since he's considered just a standard zombie, he can pop up from graves, which may happen behind your line of plants. But the kicker is that he's immune to projectiles, and in fact returns them, single-handedly rendering Melons effectively obsolete.
      • The Zombie King can turn any peasant zombies near him into extra-tough Knight Zombies. If not taken out quickly, he can create a huge rush of knights.
      • The Wizard Zombie turns more of your plants into useless sheep the longer it's on the screen, and often needs to be specifically targeted with one-hit-kill plants because its slow movement means that tough zombies get ahead of it and shield it from ballistic plants. They come in such large numbers that a single wave of them can easily turn an entire lawn into sheep, unless the player has a One-Hit Kill on hand. They also destroy any chance of a defensive strategy, as waiting for them to approach will end up turning more plants into sheep.
      • Surfer Zombies. They're very fast on water, have a good bit of health, cannot be blocked by any plant, and then when they get on land they plonk their surfboard on the first plant they reach (or if they are killed on land), instantly killing the plant it lands on and also creating an obstruction with a good bit of health. They can overrun your defenses easily if you let them get to land. Essentially, they combine the nastiest features of the Explorer and Tomb Raiser Zombies while also being fast.
  • Ear Worm:
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The game was released in 2009. The Dancing Zombie originally looked like Michael Jackson. Six months after the game was released, the King of Pop died of cardiac arrest. Whoops. They ended up "fixing" this in a patch.
  • Game Breaker:
    • Plants vs. Zombies classic:
      • In the flash version's survival, the Fume-shroom and Sun-shroom combo becomes this at night. Sprinkle the cake with Grave Busters and Wall-nuts for success and profit.
      • Cattails in any pool stage. It fires spikes that home in on the screen & can also pop balloons, making it easier to take Balloon Zombies down.
      • The Gloom-shroom/Garlic combo. The garlic diverts the zombies down to other lanes and clustered up together so that the Gloom-shroom can blast them. This can eliminate at least 75% of the zombies types in the almanac. Unfortunately, they don't stop Zombonis and Gargantuar, so keep some one-hitters and a front row of Spikerocks as buffer.
      • The Spikeweed/Wall Nut combo. The zombies are kept on the spikeweed by the wall-nut, and the spikeweed destroys them with minimal losses. For even more fun, try upgrading that Spikeweed to Spikerock.
      • Using the Hypno-shroom on any sufficiently powerful zombie. The Football Zombie is the most tempting target, though the Dancing Zombie is even better, with the back-up dancers also turned around. And the Jack-in-the-Box Zombie would mean no longer any risk of blasting your plants, and one free explosion against the other zombies if you're lucky.
      • Cob Cannons in Survival: Endless. With enough of them to continuously fire at regular intervals, one can go on indefinitely. Due to this, a cobless setup is a popular Self-Imposed Challenge.
      • The Melon-Pult was already pretty powerful because its projectiles are worth 4 peas in terms of damage, but the Winter Melon upgrade increases the lethality by having its projectiles freeze the zombies on impact.
      • The Repeater/Gatling Pea + Torchwood combo is this in Bonus Adventure levels and the Survival and Survival (Hard) levels, simply because the Torchwood doubles the damage of ALL peas that pass through it plus gives them splash properties. The only place where it's useless is in Survival Endless, as due to the increasing sun cost of upgrade plants, the Gatling Pea becomes a total Sun sink.
    • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time:
      • The Coconut Cannon is a pretty good unit. It behaves somewhat like the Cob Cannon, but when tapped, it fires a powerful coconut at the zombies.
      • The sequel also gave us the plant food powerup, which enchants the power of the plant that it is used on. For example, Peashooters fire rapid pea bursts, Walnuts gain an extra layer of health & Potato Mine places 2 armed Potato Mines on 2 random tiles. Even better when combined with the Power Tiles in the Far Future (which gives Plant Food to all plants on similar tiles if one receives it, essentially a free plant food).
      • Iceberg Lettuce takes the cake. Normally it's a bomb-style plant that temporarily freezes whoever walks into it, but when you Plant-Food it, it casts freeze on every zombie on the screen, similar to Ice-shrooms from the first game. In conjunction with Bloomerangs, which shoot through stacked zombies, the final waves become useless. Both plants are available in Egypt, the first world you visit. And the best part: when you use Plant Food on an Iceberg Lettuce, it doesn't die, meaning that if one freeze wasn't enough you can just do it again.
      • Then you combine it with Kernel-Pult's Plant Food special, butter bombing all zombies which does stack with the freezing.
      • Spikeweed + Wallnut + Bonk Choi = a defensive wall that damn near nothing but a large group of extra-tough zombies can get through.
      • Spikeweed + Wallnut + Snapdragon = Like the above, except its Area of Effect incinerates groups of weaker zombies in front within seconds. Also useful against Jetpack zombies as one column is enough to kill them all. The Imp Dragon does throw a wrench in this plan due to its fire immunity, however.
      • The Lightning Reed. Weak on their own, but when you plant at least a whole column of them they become a nasty wave-killing machine. Especially since the lightning jumps to the closest enemy. They're also cheap and quick to replant.
      • Interestingly enough, the Zen Garden can become this in and of itself, since plants that reach full growth give you either a crap-ton of coins (which can be used for power-ups or extra Plant Food in a pinch) or a one-level upgrade to a specific plant that gives said plant an instant free Plant Food boost each time a new one is planted. The latter gives way to even more insane Game Breakers, as it basically gives you things like instant double-health Wall-Nuts and sun-spewing Sunflowers that actually earn you a profit for planting them. The catch is that the plants take time to grow... but these wait times are effectively nullified by the Zen Garden's bee, which can be sent to any plant to cut its wait time down by at least 10% (and, on certain lucky occasions, up to half) of its total wait time (so using the bee on a Twin Sunflower, which has a six-hour / 360-minute wait, will always reduce the wait time by at least 36 minutes, no matter how much time remains. The bee has a cooldown period between uses, but unlike the plants' several-hour-long waits, the bee's ready for another use in a mere 30 seconds, which makes the whole "waiting" gimmick arbitrary at best (since you can easily blow through a five-hour waiting period in as little as 5 minutes). You also win new Zen Garden plants fairly frequently (usually at least one per level), which makes for a Boring, but Practical strategy for passing tough levels by grinding Zen Garden plants in easier levels, boosting them up to full growth, and then taking on hard levels with an unstoppable army of super-powered plants.
      • Zen Garden boosted Spring Bean. Jesus Christ. If you have a Pirate level that doesn't have three plank rows together, planting a boosted Spring Bean will literally instakill every single thing on the screen except Seagull Zombies and Imp Cannons, including Gargantuars, for only fifty sun points.
      • If you plant a Blover at the same time the spring bean knocks the zombies back, every zombie on the screen will fly away.
      • Zen Garden boosted Sun Bean. Zombie eats it, explodes for 15 sun times their health before exploding. On a buckethead, that's 975 sun right there. On a Robo-Cone, that's 1875 sun.
      • Zen Garden boosted Puff-Shroom. Placing one will make ALL Puff-Shrooms use their Limit Break, while resetting their lifespan. The Limit Break only gets deadlier when more of them are placed down.
      • Zen Garden boosted Hypno-shroom. Place 'em on a lane and that lane's gonna be safe for a long while when a zombie eats it, because it'll turn into a hypnotized Gargantuar.
      • The Magnifying Grass is a borderline example: while each shot costs 50 sun, its sheer power means it can take out most durable zombies in 3-4 shots, especially those in Far Future, where not even Cherry Bombs can immediately kill them. The sun cost for their shots doesn't even become a major issue if you liberally plant Twin Sunflowers, which also has the benefit of prolonging its special Plant Food attack (firing a beam that does continual damage to one enemy which lasts longer the more Sunflowers there are). Unfortunately, its projectile properties are no better than a Peashooter, meaning its also easy to accidently waste Sun on a shot that is blocked by decapitated zombie's body or on faster but more frail zombies
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Of the "Big in Japan" variety. China has three exclusive Plants vs. Zombies games and an exclusive area in Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Plants vs. Zombies classic:
      • The Bungee zombie drops down and randomly steals one of your plants.
      • Balloon Zombies, unless you planted a Cattail or put a Cactus in each lane. Otherwise, you have to plant a Blover every time one shows up, or it'll float right over every defense you have. They're easy to stop, but when you're trying to get enough sun for something fairly expensive, it can get REALLY frustrating to have to keep using up 100 sun to get rid of them. Strangely enough, a group of them tends to be less dangerous than a single one for this very reason.
      • In the puzzle mini-game "I, Zombie" where you play as the zombies, the snow peas and kernel-pults are these. The snow peas slow down your zombies, and the kernel-pults will randomly stun them with a block of butter. Heaven help you if a kernel-pult and snow pea are in the same row, slowing and stunning your football zombie. While he's on a bed of spikeweeds.
    • Plants Vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time:
      • Tomb Raiser Zombies. They throw a bone which spawns a tomb on the square it lands on. The tomb not only has a lot of health, but also blocks frontal attacks and prevents you from planting anything (other than Grave Busters) on them. And they can do this up to 6 times. Thankfully, they have low health.
      • Chicken Zombies, which are spawned by the Chicken Wrangler Zombie to Zerg Rush your plants. In Big Bad Butte, Chicken Wrangler Zombies will sometimes spawn early in a level before you have the chance to set up your defenses to deal with them.
      • In the Pirate world, the parrot starts in whatever lanes are currently open but can then fly up or down to any plant you own and begin to steal it. For a small bird, they can take twice as much damage as a regular zombie, and they move fast. If you can't pile on the DPS on them or hit them down with the kernel-pult's random chance of butter, say goodbye to one of your plants. Fortunately, the Blover from the Far Future can easily blow the Parrot away for good cheaply and quickly.
      • In the Wild West, we have the Pianist zombie. It has a lot of health makes the other zombies change lanes, which can be very dangerous, and can instantly crush a plant it runs over. Thankfully it's rather slow, dies to one spikeweed, and has a rather catchy tune.
      • The Far Future has the Bug Bot Imp, which moves fast, eats fast, and drops down in huge hordes every now and then.
  • Good Bad Bugs
    • In the sequel, after a zombie's head gets knocked off, sometimes the Lightning Reed's attacks will magically put the head back on just for the X-Ray Sparks visual.
    • In Survival mode in the sequel on the Android, the game's crashing can sometimes be in the player's favor, resetting a level that's otherwise hopeless. Of course, the majority of the time the crashing results in moving onto the next level without getting a between-level reward (or worse, a Game Over in Endless mode), but at least there's a possibility of an upside.
    • In the sequel's versions of Survival modes, there is a way to bypass having to pay for the fourth card (which is hidden), by selecting an already revealed card, selecting the unknown card, then hitting accept on the card you had first selected. The downside to this though, is that you will not know what you have selected until the plant selection starts.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Many people who played the first game wanted Hypno-Shroom to be able to brainwash a Gargantuar (who just smashes it) because it would be cool. In the sequel, using Plant Food on the Hypno-Shroom makes the first zombie that eats it turn into a brainwashed Gargantuar!
  • It's the Same, so It Sucks: In the sequel, the Ancient Egypt, Pirate Seas, Wild West, and Far Future bosses are all generic, but vary in difficulty. Averted with the Dark Ages boss, since it's finally a unique one.
  • Memetic Mutation: "We are SO the undead!"
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Dolphin squeaks will make you rage during the Pool levels.
    • "Yeeeeeee-HAAAH!" At least the Bungee Zombies are having fun annoying you.
    • The sound of the Pirate Captain's Parrot zombie. Which is probably going to take away one of your plants.
    • The kazoo in the Dark Ages. It sounds completely out of place in its time period and gets to your head when it loops over and over as part of the main theme.
    • Any sound made by an Imp Zombie, especially in the second game where they're now common enemies.
    • Dr. Zomboss' maniacal laughter can also get on your nerves.
  • Porting Disaster: The sequel on the Android is prone to crashing, and certain updates rendered it completely non-functional.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • The fact there's no way to restart Survival mode in the sequel without dying. If you have lawnmowers but want to start all over again, you have to just wait for a zombie to kill you.
    • Tombstones in the second game. While the Western and Pirate zones' special features result in a change of strategy and add to gameplay, the tombstones in the Ancient Egypt stage are just an obstacle forcing the player to bring the Gravebuster. But it's not until the Dark Ages stage, where the graves can pop up under your plants, moving them at random and disrupting any sort of strategy that they become hated. As a bonus, zombies can then spawn from the Graves, sometimes circumventing defenses entirely.
  • Squick: Brain-controlled zombies turn around and eat their fellow zombies.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Mostly more from the people who've scored over 100+ on endless survival and have used specific plants tend to think that everyone else should play it according to specific strategies they used.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Some of Crazy Dave's choices for plant are very impractical.
  • That One Attack:
    • The Zomboss battle can be summed up in four words: WINNEBAGO ATTACK FREAKING SUCKS! Although the attack is predictable (immediately after getting back up, less than half his max hp left), there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop it from insta-killing 6 of your plants.
    • In the sequel, Dr. Zomboss uses a similar attack (in that it's just as easily predictable) but it gets worse. You can block Zomboss with a plant food attack (this also stuns him for a few seconds) but if you just so happen to not have plant food, he could destroy two rows of your plants and then place either a lot of zombies or a gargantuar or two for a cheap victory/lawnmower fatality (Thankfully, this attack kills the zombies in the lane as well, but only if they were there beforehand). Powerups make this fight slightly easier (perhaps EA made Popcap create these boss fights to get players to pay up for better plants and powerups...).
    • The Gargantuar Prime's Eye Beams. Not only can the Gargantuar Prime instakill any plant in front of them, they can also incinerate any plant behind it as well! Not to mention said attack comes out very fast, targets a random plant, and if you're unlucky, the sweeping beam can take out more than one.
    • The Wizard Zombie's transformation beam, which turns a plant into a completely useless sheep until the Wizard is killed. They can use it multiple times if not killed in time.
  • That One Level:
    • Stage 4-10. The stage is in complete darkness in which you cannot see your plants or the incoming zombies until lightning illuminates the lawn for a few seconds. It is also a conveyor level. You'll get to unlock the Yeti Zombie the second time you play it, though.
    • Same thing for level 5-5, which is where you're fighting against oncoming waves of bungee zombies relying on nothing but Chompers, Pumpkins, Flower Pots, and Cherry Bombs. Crazy Dave sums it up at the start of the level.
      Crazy Dave: You're gonna hate this level. It's one bungee zombie after another. I hate those bungee zombies. With a passion. And a vengeance. Here come those idiots now.
    • The "Survival - Fog (Hard)" level. "Hard" is a MASSIVE understatement. The fog levels are among the hardest in the game to begin with, but this one takes it Up to Eleven and beyond. If you pick your nighttime plants well, you can actually get fairly smoothly through the first six flags... but then the game will (as in, 100% guarantee — it's part of the level design!) send a few Gargantuars your way for flags 7 and 8, who will not hesitate to flatten your entire carefully-prepared yard without blinking an eye. The final waves become largely a Luck-Based Mission based on how many of of your plants are alive.
    • "Column Like You See 'Em" and "Bobsled Bonanza" are two difficult mini-games that mostly rely on luck. The former gives you plants on a conveyor belt, and will only give you Flower Pots and Pumpkins right when the waves of Gargantuars start swarming you. The latter can ruin you by sending you several bobsled teams before you set up anything that can kill them. The former overlaps with That One Achievement when attempting to beat it without using Jalapenos.
    • The "Big Bad Butte" challenge level in the Wild West zone in the second game has a nasty habit of hitting you with powerful zombie types right from the start, before you have a wide range of plants to choose from. If you aren't lucky enough to get a powerful plant or two in the random selections, you're doomed.
    • Dark Ages Night 14. You not only have to face Wizard Zombies and Gargantuars, you also have to get 5000 sun with no sun-producing plants other than Sun-Beans and sun-giving graves. Normally you can use Cherry-Bombs to make the level easier, but they take a long time to recharge.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • The reception to the Game of the Year Edition update which changed the Dancing Zombie (after official objections from the estate of Michael Jackson) from a blatant reference to Michael Jackson's Thriller video to a Disco Dan. Though, the new disco zombie is at least amusing, and makes for a clever Visual Pun regarding disco being... well, dead.
    • The sequel being free-to-play and having certain features require payment. Electronic Arts, perhaps the king of this practice, publishing the game certainly doesn't help.
    • Then the December 2013 update for the second game ended the need to use keys to access certain levels, which pissed off all the people who'd used real money to buy keys.
    • And the February 2014 update made things even worse, with the change to having lost lawnmowers in the challenge levels disappear permanently unless you bought them back leading to accusations of "Allegedly Free Game!"
  • Ugly Cute: The zombies.
  • What an Idiot: Being mindless automatons, many of the zombies count. However, the Jack-in-the-Box zombies take the cake by stupidly winding up bombs in their hands and then being surprised when they blow themselves up.
  • The Woobie:
    • The Wall-Nut starts off looking more than happy to protect the lives of its planter and comrades, but when the zombies begin to devour him and his smile slowly disappears, you can't help but feel sorry for him.
    • A single tear begins to stream down Tall-Nut's face when he gets near the end of his health. Apparently the game's composer and a few beta testers would protect Tall-Nut with a Pumpkin because the tear made them feel bad for poor Tall-Nut. Although the Tall-Nut tear is more of a manly tear.
    • The Garlic starts off looking happy and care-free, but when he's near the end of his health, he gets big tear-filled eyes...

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