Great moments in PC gaming: Bowling in Plants vs. Zombies

(Image credit: EA)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Plants vs. Zombies

(Image credit: PopCap)

Year: 2009
Developer: PopCap

There are so many minigames in Plants vs. Zombies you're basically getting a whole PopCap library as a bonus. Bejeweled is here as Beghouled, Insaniquarium becomes Zombiquarium (minus the aliens that randomly invaded your fish tank, but you can't have everything), and then there are puzzles and a zen garden for when you need something even more chill than the opening act of adventure mode.

The peak of all these random bonuses is bowling, which takes the wall-nuts that normally form the second row of your tower defense system (behind the spikes, obv) and transforms them into bowling balls. These become your only weapon against the hordes, appearing at intervals on a conveyor belt so you can roll them at the undead complete with tenpin sound effects as they topple.

There's an element of tactics to it, as the wall-nuts bounce at semi-predictable angles and you'll need to hit the armored zombies multiple times. Waiting for multiple columns of the dead to appear and then strategically bumping the buckets and cones off their heads is a must. Every additional zombie hit is worth a coin as well, which makes bowling another way to earn a few bucks for upgrades that apply in other modes, or just buying more flowers for your zen garden. Then there are the red wall-nuts, which explode as all red objects in videogames that aren't hearts should, a last resort that denies you the coins from bounces but will save your brain from getting chomped.

The zombies get their revenge for being turned into tenpins at the climax of adventure mode, when you have a boss fight with their animator Dr. Zomboss, who pilots a mech. His attacks, beyond stomping and dropping an endless supply of vans on your plants, are rollubg balls of ice and fire at you. Now he's the one bowling, but fortunately your jalapenos and ice-shrooms can take care of those. Common sense, really.

There's a lot more going on in Plants vs. Zombies than its opening hour of relaxing planting and pea-shooting suggest—like the fact it contains a boss fight and an entire bowling minigame.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.