zombie match defense ($1.99) by shovelware games is a unique hybrid of match-three and tower defense that works out nicely. If you’re a fan of classics like Plants Vs. Zombies and Bejeweled, then you will fall in love with Zombie Match Defense, especially with Halloween just coming up around the corner.
If you’ve followed my work here at AppAdvice for a while now, then you may know by now that one of my favorite types of games is a match-three puzzle, despite the lack of originality in the genre in recent years. I’m not sure why, but match-three games always manage to keep me busy for hours on end, and I will always return to them whenever I am bored or have a spare moment. Another thing that I fell in love with upon first release was the original Plants Vs. Zombies, and I even managed to beat the entire game back in the day. So naturally, Zombie Match Defense is like a perfect match for me, and I was eager to get my hands on the game after getting an early demo at E3 this year.
In terms of visuals, Zombie Match Defense has a cartoonish look and feel to it that fits the craziness of the game well. The game makes use of bright and vibrant colors, and the character sprites are bouncy and lively. Animations are smooth and fluid, with no lag on my iPhone 6s Plus. To top things off, the game features a spooky soundtrack in the background and some fun sound effects and dialogue when you rack up the combos. Overall, I’m rather enamored with the style and audio of Zombie Match Defense, and the splash of humor thrown in is welcome in my book.
There are two game modes in Zombie Match Defense: Campaign and Infinite. If you go with the traditional campaign mode, you must go through a series of increasingly difficult levels where you can earn up to three stars by meeting objectives, such as not letting any zombies get to the scientists. For a real test of match-three skills and strategy, the Infinite mode is just about survival, and you must see how long you can last against an endless horde of undead.
Controls in the game are natural and intuitive, particularly if you’ve played games like this before. Each stage consists of five horizontal lanes of brains, with a scientist at the left side next to doors. Zombies will come in from the right side of the screen, feasting on the brains and moving ahead one space each after your turn. In the game, you swap brain pieces by tapping on the ones you want to switch, or just swipe in the direction you want them to move. In each stage, you must get rid of a certain number of zombies, and there are different kinds with different abilities introduced as you go. To get rid of them, you have to make matches with the brains that they are currently on.
Sometimes, though, it won’t be possible to get rid of a zombie so easily, and they just keep advancing as you struggle to match the brains they’re on. With this in mind, there is some strategy required for Zombie Match Defense, since you can swap brains without making matches as well. Because of this, it is possible to set up traps for zombies if you plan it well, and know the zombie’s movement patterns. I love this about the game — there’s much more depth to it rather than just another match-three puzzle game.
If a zombie gets to a scientist, they will consume them and leave the lane’s door wide open for attack. If another zombie gets through the door, then it’s a failure and you’ll have to retry. Eventually, you will get different types of scientists that can fight back a bit, so it’s not all hopeless. There are also power-up items that you can collect during levels by matching the brains that they are hidden in, which come in handy when you’re in a pinch, since they can freeze zombies or move the brain back to the end of the lane, for example. Unfortunately, you can only hold three of these items at a time, so make sure you don’t waste them. When you are successful on a level, you earn cash, which is used in the shop to unlock more boost items.
Even though the game is high in replay value already due to the difficulty and survival mode, there is Game Center integration to keep you coming back. The Game Center support includes leaderboards and achievements, so you can see who is best at keeping the zombies at bay.
As a big match-three and Plants Vs. Zombies fan, Zombie Match Defense is like a dream come true for me. When I tried it out at E3 this year, I knew that it was something special, and I was eager to get my hands on the final product. Now that it’s finally arrived on the App Store, I’ll be keeping the game on my device for a long time. The visuals are fantastic, the music and sounds are fun, and the hybrid gameplay is simple yet challenging — this is a mashup done right.
If you enjoy match-three and tower defense games, then definitely give Zombie Match Defense a try. You can get it on the App Store as a universal download for $1.99.