Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (XBOX 360)

Scotland’s only independant All-Format Games Magazine asked me to review the second visit to the land of sweetie-filled animal husbandry.
Check out what I thought over at Square Go.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

I’m almost there.  If I can get BigBird to eat one more bluebell seed, he’ll shack up with Flaps and then I’ll have another baby Sparrowmint!

If this sentence makes no sense to you, then you probably missed the phenomenon that was Viva Piñata, the Rare game that showed legions of Xbox-ers how cute and cuddly games could hold universal appeal.

The best way to discribe Viva Piñata is to say it’s a gardening sim, but with added cutesy paper animals. It’s your job to tend the garden so lots of the little critters come to visit. Once they do, you can make them to stay by growing the plants they like, or tempting other Piñatas in for them to eat.  Then you’ve got to fill them up with sweets and send them off in crates to parties (presumably to be beaten open by screaming kids who want to eat their confectionary insides).

Fast forward a few years and we finally get the proper follow-up Trouble in Paradise. Surprisingly, not that much has changed. The game is still using the same engine, and asking you to complete the same tasks.  While some refinements and control streamlining have helped out a lot, there’s been some work to make the whole experience better. With about 20 new Piñatas and the introduction of some bad-guys who’ve erased the Piñata database (which is why you have to collect them all) providing a story that was lacking in the original.  They’ve also included a bunch of multiplayer modes to let you dig and plant away with friends both online and off.  Otherwise, and here is the crib, the game plays exactly like the old one. While there are a few proper additions, like the ability to set traps in the desert and arctic for rare critters is a nice break in the routine.  However the majority of the changes are aesthetic.

The game itself isn’t perfect either, having given you a garden and a set of tools, you’re more or less left to your own devices, and if you go to town planting flowers and seeds randomly you’ll find yourself in a garden flooded with wildlife and little idea of what you should be doing next. It is however quite addictive, controlling the lives of these paper-animonsters becomes captivating.  Even when you’re deciding to feed an old friend to a fancy new Piñata, or when you’re breeding family members together in a beautiful cartoon battery, you’ll know deep down inside, that it’s only because you love them…


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