Franklin, do you believe in Chewnicorns?
Release Date: November 09, 2006
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
With the recent announcement of Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, I decided to revisit the original title and spend a few hours in the garden having some fun, and maybe, possible finally get an Elephanilla or Roario (the two piñatas I did not get last time I played). What I did not plan on was getting hooked on the game once again and wasting more than a week playing it while other high profile games sit idly by.
The concept behind the game is simple (like all good games). The player have been granted a garden on Piñata Island, and it’s their duty to clear out this space, and rebuild it to attract various piñatas. The graphics in this game cannot be considered next-gen as they are way to colourful. Everywhere you look, there is colour. The piñatas look spending and actually do remind your of real piñatas. The sound in the game is perfect for this type of game, where you can loose yourself for hours on end without getting on your nerves.
As the game beings, the player is provided with a very weak shovel and watering can that can do little more than break items, soften hard soil and plant some grass. Around this time the garden will have it’s first piñata visitor in the form of a whirlm. This piñata is actually tougher to keep out of the garden, than to attract. Also the whirlm has no romancing requirements other than the purchase of a home. Once a home is built, whirlms are ready to “romance” and produce baby piñatas by selecting one whirlm and directing it to the another whirlm (don’t worry, it’s all very G rated). Once this happens, the gamer is presented with a mini-game, in that they must guide one piñata to the other piñata around a bomb filled maze. The mazes vary in difficulty depending on the level of piñata being romanced. Each piñata will also have a different style of movement that gamers must take into account when trying to navigate around tight corners. Once the mini-game has been successfully completed, a “Stork” will deliver a piñata egg what will eventually hatch to expose a cute baby piñata. The process for all piñatas is the same, with the exception of complex requirements for appearances, visiting, setting up residency and romancing. It is those differences that will drive you utterly mad as you attempt to romance them all.
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If trying to romance all these piñatas was not bad enough, the sadistic developers saw fit to create 3 variants of each piñata. A variant is basically the same piñata with a different colour. These variants are discovered by feeding a piñata various items such as seeds, fruits, vegetables or flower that can be found in the garden. Some variants will require more than items to be eaten before they change colours. Variants can be romanced with normal piñatas.
Some piñatas can do more than just change colours, they can also evolve to become a new piñata all together. For example flutterscotches can evolve into 6 separate species of flutterscotches depending on the flower they eat. Each species is different than the first and can only be romanced with other flutterscotches of the same colour, but will all produce white offsprings.
Piñata island is not all fun and romancing. There are many dangers that will hinder a piñata gardener’s progress. The island is home to many sour piñatas. These red piñatas must be tamed or they will keep wreaking havoc in a garden by releasing sour candies that make piñatas sick. Also present is Professor Pester and his grunts. They will harm piñatas and destroy gardens.
A cool feature of the game is that gardeners can send other gardeners on their friends list, piñatas, money and other items from their garden (both the sender and the receiver require a gold subscription to Xbox Live). When a piñata is born in your garden (must be an offspring of a successful romancing) it will have a unique tag representing the garden it was born in. This tag will never change and will remain with the piñata all it’s life indifferent of which garden it get sent to.
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I cannot help but think that the game missed it’s target audience by making the game a little to complex for children. But this same complexity had a side effect of making piñata addicts of adults gamers. Make no mistake, Rare managed to take pure addiction, coat is in a soft candy coloured shell, and sell it to unsuspecting gamers. Unless you are afraid to appear a bit wussy, give Viva Piñata a chance as the game is amazingly fun.
If you can find Viva Piñata, it can be had for about $20. But you may be looking for a while. During a recent hunting expedition for the game, I searched all of my hometown to find a single copy which I acquired promptly.