Saturday, November 27, 2010

We Don't Want Zombies on the Lawn

You know you want to say it. Do it! Do it!!  Brrrraaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnss

In the fun trivia section of Patch 4.0.3a, all comers ought to head out to the Hillsbradt Foothills, about halfway north, towards Dalaran Crater, to the small farmstead of a goblin named Braxie the Botanist.

Braxie is friendly to all comers, even though the Alliance has been totally run out of the zone, and he asks for your help protecting his home from hordes of zombies, ghouls, and other assorted undead. These undead seem to be originating from a nearby Foresaken encampment where the local apothecary officials have gone even a bit more freakish than usual.

When you take Braxie's quests, you shift into a new phase with a sort of top down view locked in and you use seeds Braxie has given you to plant a variety of growing things that attack oncoming zombies. And...


Is this starting to sound familiar?

If you are like me and have had varying lengths of your life sucked away by the Popcap game Plants vs. Zombies, which is far more addictive than crack cocaine, then you know exactly what I'm talking about already. Blizzard has constructed a tribute to PvZ, by copying the premise of that game and putting it into the framework of the World of Warcraft.

If there is any doubt about this, check out the smiley-faced Sunflowers standing with Braxie and you can do a /facepalm over your hesitancy to believe. If you play the WoW version of PvZ well enough, you can take Sunflower home with you as a non-combat pet. She even has some lines voiced by Laura Shigihara who sang Sunflower's song in the Popcap game.

It does not surprise me that Blizzard and Popcap would come to some arrangements. About a year ago, Popcap created a WoW add-on version of its other crack-addictive game Bejewelled (y'know, for those times when your raid leader is talking about a boss fight but you are far, far to leet to need to listen). About the same time, Blizzard changed a policy and started requiring add-on makers to reveal their code in an effort to stop a handful of paid add-ons, but famously let Popcap off the hook. It looked to me then that future collaboration was imminent.

I kind of like two good game companies patting each other on the back like this. Popcap and Blizzard don't really compete in the same niches, so there's no way to really step on any toes. I wonder how long til mulocs or boomkin feature in a new Popcap title.

I strongly recommend checking put the Popcap game first. Most of the fun of this set of quests in Azeroth comes from referencing the original. Again, it's easy and free to try.

But beware. The Azeroth version of this game does not quite handle as fluidly as the original, and some of the rules are not quite the same either. Sunflowers only make about 10 solar power at a time and it feels like you wait forever to get enough power to plant something. What's more, when a zombie turned to its left and started attacking my plant in another row, I realized that we were definitely not in Popcapland anymore.

And at this early date, Braxie's farmstead is a little buggy. In then.ittle while ilayed this morning, zombie waves hung twice. Starting the first quest in the series also seems to hang a little. I think what happens is that you start the round with no solar energy at all and just have to wait a while.

Bugs will get better though so don't shy away because of that. It's a neat little mini game with some nice rewards.

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