Tag Archives: PopCap

Windows Users, Why Put Up With This?



Bookworm logoMy mom is far from a “power user” when it comes to computers. She’s never sent an e-mail. She’s never browsed the web. She probably isn’t proficient enough with a keyboard to type a simple “hello.” A few years ago, she started playing the addictive word game Bookworm on my sister’s computer, A family friend built her a simple Windows PC out of spare parts he had from other machines. Outside of the operating system, the only thing he installed on that computer was the Bookworm game. It worked fine until about a month ago. After some basic troubleshooting, it was determined that the spare-parts PC had bit the dust, and that it was time for my mom to get a new computer.

Knowing that her needs were pretty basic, I searched Craigslist and found a Dell workstation that would easily meet her needs. The computer was acquired for a princely sum of $20. I went to work installing the Bookworm game. Something I figured could be done in no time.

I did a Google search for where to download the game. This took me to the website for PopCap, the game’s developer. There, I was directed to something called Pogo. Pogo turned out to be a sort of client-based “marketplace” for games; In order to get Bookworm I’d have to get Pogo first. This seemed odd and inefficient.

I kept searching and found another site called Origin that promised I could download the game there. I signed up, paid for the game, and was then directed to download the Origin game client in order to get Bookworm! This seemed even worse than Pogo. At least Pogo was up front about the fact that I’d need their client in order to get the game.

Since I’d already paid for Bookworm thru Origin, I figured I should at least try and run the Origin client. But every time I tried to download it, nothing happened. I couldn’t find any evidence of an Origin installer anywhere on the computer. Now I was getting frustrated!

By this time, my sister had come into the room. She mentioned that she’s got an account with something called BigPond and she knew the Bookworm game was available there. So we logged into her BigPond account, found the game, installed the BigPond client and then finally added Bookworm to the computer. Now, my mom’s computer won’t be connected to the Internet. I did some testing to make sure that Bookworm would run without an Internet connection. And technically speaking, the game did work. But it seemed slower when the machine wasn’t online. Why? The only explanation I can come up with is, the BigPond client needs to phone home to check for licenses. When there’s no Internet connection available, BigPond games still work. But they’re slowed down because the client can’t complete the authentication check.

We’ve got the “new” computer setup at my mom’s place and she said it’s working fine. I’m concerned that at some point, it won’t let her play Bookworm anymore without letting the BigPond client get online to call home. This will effectively break the game for my mom, as her PC has no Internet. This whole ordeal has left me with a few questions:

1.) Why doesn’t PopCap offer a simple .exe download of the Bookworm installer, free of the need to use a third-party client?

2.) On my Mac, I’ve downloaded Bookworm from the Mac App Store. The game runs the same with or without an Internet connection. The download/install process was simple and straightforward. Knowing this, why would Windows users ever stand to put up with this kind of hassle?


Plants vs. Zombies Game Review



PopCapPlants vs. Zombies was one of the first Free App of the Day games in the UK’s Amazon Appstore but if I’d known about it beforehand, I would have paid the full price as it’s a lot of fun and simple to play.

Published by PopCap, the premise is simple: stop hordes of marauding zombies from crossing your lawn by using a variety of vicious plants and vegetables. It’s a simplified riff on “Tower Defense” with the zombies and plants only acting in straight lines.

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There are 50 levels with over 26 kinds of zombie and 49 killer plants. As you’d expect, the more advanced members of the armies of darkness appear in later level as do more evolved plants with greater killing potential. Triffids have nothing on these botanical beauties. The controls are straightforward with tapping on the screen being the only skill required. That and managing your resources of sunshine to grow your plants.

But enough of the dry features…this game is great fun. There’s absolutely nothing like setting up your garden to hurl flaming peas at the undead. The game’s difficulty progresses at the just the right level to keep the player challenged and the introduction of new zombies and complementary plants keeps the death-dealing interesting.  It’s all done with great humour in a cartoon fashion so there’s no blood’n’guts to worry about. And the game’s not complete without the inimicable groaning of “brains”.

According to PopCap’s website, Plants vs. Zombies is available for a multitude of platforms but I was playing on Android tablets. Presumably it was originally designed for smartphones, as some of the graphics aren’t as well-defined as they could be. Looks fine on a 7″ tablet but is more obvious on a 10″.

The game is available from the Amazon Appstore for £2.06 as Plants vs. Zombies doesn’t appear to be sold in Google Play.

Braaaainsssssss.