Ben Kuchera

Plants vs. Zombies on the Sega Genesis: Yes, it’s real. No, it’s probably not legal

Plants vs. Zombies on the Sega Genesis: Yes, it’s real. No, it’s probably not legal

The classic console area of PAX Australia was an absolute delight for an American video game fan, as the area featured a massive amount of hardware and content that either didn’t make it to the states, or was much more rare here than it was in other regions. I played with an Amstrad, a few different flavors of the PC Engine, and other consoles I didn’t recognize in the slightest.

Then I turned a corner and saw something that made my blood run cold. A game that made me doubt my very existence, as if a relic from an alternate time line somehow tumbled into the reality of PAX Australia. A small group of people were playing Plants vs. Zombies on the Sega Genesis.

“I came across an article and this guy said he’s got Plants vs. Zombies for the Mega Drive,” Dave Kudrev from Retrospekt told me after I tracked him down.  “So I had a look, and grabbed it off of eBay. He said he had other, various games, but that’s pretty much it. I wanted to see what a de-make of the game would look like.”

The coder in question rebuilt Plants vs. Zombies from the ground up for the Sega Genesis, what was known as the Mega Drive in most other regions, and the result was… well, it worked.

It wasn’t very elegant, and the graphics certainly didn’t have the detail or polish of the game on mobile devices or other modern hardware, but after watching it be played for a while I was struck by how much of the core game play actually survived the conversion. It may not be nearly as good as what we’re used to, but it still seemed to be fun.

“Considering the lack of hardware in comparison to today’s smart phones, it still plays all right,” Kudrev told me. I was curious about how much a Sega Genesis version of Plants vs. Zombies costs, just in case I wanted to pick one up for myself.

“About $30, roughly?” Kudrev told me. “It comes in the box, no manual or anything.” The Russian coder asked him if he was after other games, things that never made it to the Genesis, but he was comfortable with this one game.

“He had Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, but I wasn’t interested. I just wanted this one in particular,” Kudrev continued. “It’s pretty unique, to say the least.”

The game was being shown a partition away from the official Plants vs. Zombies 2 cafe area of the show, so I wanted to wait until everything was shut down before publishing the story. I doubt EA would confiscate the cart or anything so silly, but still, you can never be too careful.

The idea that there was someone who thought that there was enough of a market for something like this is interesting, and I'm tempted to see if I can find him, pay him some money, and get my own copy of a Sega Genesis version of Call of Duty, or Portal, or The Last of Us. He could be running the video game equivalent of the video store from Be Kind, Rewind.