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VIVA Piata Trouble in PARADISE

1 rating: 5.0
Simulation video game by Microsoft for the Xbox 360

"Viva Pinata", an original intellectual property and the latest innovative gaming experience from leading U.K.-based developer Rare Ltd., invites gamers to create an immersive world where living piñatas inhabit an ever-changing … see full wiki

Release Date: September, 2008
1 review about VIVA Piata Trouble in PARADISE

Viva Pinata - The most addictive game for your 360

  • Jun 22, 2007
Rating:
+5
Pros: incredible depth, wonderful graphics, amazingly addictive

Cons: romance mini-games can get tedious, but that's a minor complaint

The Bottom Line: A true achievement by Rare, this is a must-have game for all owners of the Xbox 360.

The idea of a games made for kids is a bit of a misnomer, just as movies for kids often have many elements for adults. Both mediums appeal to all ages. In the realm of games, this has been fairly dominated by Nintendo and their franchises of Marios of and Pokemons. But developer Rare has taken a stab at the genre with Viva Pinata for the Xbox 360, arguably, the first game designed for kids for that console. Does the game deliver for kids and adults?

Read on, dear reader....

•• Story ••
You have inherited a garden. but not any ordinary garden. This garden is inhabited by pinatas. As you progress through the game, you learn the backstory of the garden and who each of the characters are and how they came to be. As well, the pinatas can be sold off to kids' parties and those that die are swirled around into the ether in a sort of Circle of Life thing. The story is not deep, nor is it meant to be. But it's good enough to keep event he most jaded player engaged.

•• Gameplay ••
Viva Pinata is a game that is normally called a "sandbox" game, in that there is no linear gameplay and the player has the ability to just do what they want in the environment. This is not entirely the case for Viva Pinata as the game is very linear. While the player can dink around and do what they want, success is a distinct laid out path. This isn't a bad thing. It keeps the player on track, while still allowing him to experiment in the garden. As well, the path may be linear, but there isn't just one. Different creations will yield different fruit and the animals you get at the end may be vastly different than if you had made different decisions earlier in the game. Linear, yes. Single path, no.

Your primary tool is a shovel. This shovel is used for all manner of things such as stomping out bad guys, creating usable soil, digging water holes, planting seeds, and finding coins. You start the game with a beat up shovel that doesn't have much in the way of power of abilities. But as the game progresses, you can upgrade the shovel and give it powers such as the ability to find unrecovered coins.

The idea of the game is to breed and attract pinatas. Starting with the tiny Whirlm, the pinatas are attracted to your garden when your garden has certain attributes such as a certain amount of grass and water, certain types of plants or fruit. This will attract pinatas to your garden, but a further requirement will be necessary to make them residents. Once you've attracted 2 of a species of pinata, you can romance them by having them eat certain things you have in your garden. Once romanced, you play a mini game which consists of moving your pinata through a minefield of bombs to it's prospective mate. This is a rather tedious portion of game and can be frustrating. The more complex the pinata, the more difficult it is to guide them through safely. If you fail the mini game, you have to re-romance the species. This can be very frustrating since getting them into the state of romance is a challenge itself. This is a minor gripe and really the only one I have with the game.

of course since your pinatas are living creatures, you have to care for them and make them happy. And if you set them up with incompatible pinatas, they will fight and kill each other. A quick whack with the shovel to feuding pinatas will often set them straight, but some feuds are too strong and it's best to separate the pinatas with fences.

In addition to pinatas, you have to grow all manner of foliage. not only do these make your garden prettier and more inhabitable, but many of them are needed by more complex pinatas. They bear fruit, nuts, and more seeds. You can micromanage your crops if you wish, or you can hire a character to do it for you. She'll pick up seeds and fruit and sell them to earn more coin for you. A waterer can be hired to make sure each plant has just the right amount of moisture. These helpers are essential as your garden gets more complex. But you'll still need to keep a careful eye on things.

The coins in the game come in handy when you want to buy things from the various stores. Using the d-pad, you can select different stores to buy things that will aid your garden or encourage better pinatas. Fertilizer will help certain plants grow if you use the right color. Objects will discourage bad pinatas from coming in. Other will let you mine coin from the ground. The possibilities are many and extremely creative. Need a pinata and tired of doing the romance game? If you've already had a member of that species become a resident, you can have the pinata hunter go out and get another for you. At a steep coinage price.

For anyone who thinks the game is shallow, they haven't played it long enough. There are so many different things you can do and different combinations of objects you can create, that there are websites devoted to it. Place a miners hat on a canary and you can send it into a mine to get more coin. Lead a moth into a flame and you'll get a firefly. Give pinatas different colors of food and they'll change colors. Finding all the different combinations is the fun of the game.

No game is complete without some conflict and your garden can attract bad guys as well. Armed with big teeth and attitude, these bats, foxes, and crocodiles are a menace to your garden as they fight pinatas and make them sick. A few whacks with your shovel will take care of them, but make sure you pick up the sour candy or your good pinatas will eat it and get sick. If they do, you can call the doctor in. But make sure it's done quickly or the main bad guy will come (his name escapes me) and do the sick pinata in. If you get tired of bad guys coming into your garden, you can convert them to the good side by providing certain requirements in your garden. Once you've done, this, no more of that bad species will invade. It's quite satisfying to convert all of the bad guys into good guys. As well, you get achievements for such a feat.

If all of this seems a little morbid, it isn't. This is all done with the utmost attention to cuteness. Pinatas don't die; they fade off into the sky and leave candy for other pinatas to eat.

•• Graphics ••
Simply stunning, the graphics are a wonder of color and delight. The plants grow at different speeds and provide lush foliage. The pinatas are very detailed with fluffy, flowing paper strips. You can fill your garden with tons of plants and there is nary a hitch in the framerate. This is a game to show off. This game looks beautiful. While some might not like the art style (it does get a bit weird), no one can deny that Rare has taken a risk with the design and knocked it out of the park.

•• Sound ••
Sound is not a huge part of the game, but it also doesn't take a backseat. There is a lot of ambient music which is dynamic and changes based on what is happening and what time of day it is. The music is good, but after a bout 40 hours of it, you might want to change it to something else.

All of the pinatas have a unique sound and care was taken to make them sound interesting and cute. There is no shortage of cuteness in this game as evidence by the yappy barking of the fox when engaged in a fight with another pinata. The same is true of the bad guys. You'll always know they're bad, but they're never scary.

•• Multiplayer ••
There is no multiplayer, but you can trade pinatas with other members of your friends list.

•• Achievements ••
The achievements are many any varied. A lot of them are awarded for progress, others for converting bad guys, combining secret ingredients, increasing levels, etc. Since there are so many, achievement junkies will be hard-pressed to earn them all. But for more casual players, they'll find themselves getting achievements fairly consistently.

•• Parents Should Know ••
This game is rated E for everyone and is suitable for all ages.

•• Conclusion ••
A true achievement by Rare, this is a must-have game for all owners of the Xbox 360.


Recommended:
Yes

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