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Review: Viva Piñata

So you’ve bought Gears of War, played for six hours, saw the ending (or lack thereof) and got bored? And you desperately need something to during the Christmas holiday? Look no further because RARE’s back. Don’t get fooled with the kiddie image or the fact that Viva Piñata is tied in with a television series on 4Kids because there’s a lot more to this game than it leads to suspect.

In Viva Piñata you’re given the responsibility of a garden on Piñata Island. As a gardener your job is to make the garden as attractive as possible to the piñatas scavenging the island. You can dig ponds, grow flowers and trees, build houses for them and so forth. As your garden improves you’ll attract piñatas and your task is to keep them happy and get them to romance.

Viva Pinata

The piñatas are a demanding little bunch and throughout the game you’ll find yourself doing all sorts of stuff to keep them happy instead of fighting each other. Each of the piñata species has a list of demands to visit your garden, to become a resident and to romance with another piñata. The demands vary from having a certain amount of grass in your garden to having eaten a certain other species and as you get to higher levels of piñatas the demands get more difficult to meet.

Though the increasing demands aren’t the only factors that make the game more challenging than it appears. The biggest challenge in the game comes from sour piñatas. Sour piñatas are the evil counterparts of certain piñata species, with the sole intent of wreaking havoc in your garden. They’ll spit up sour candy, causing your piñatas to get sick, they’ll destroy your carefully crafted landscape, they’ll cause fights among other piñatas and so on. They can prove to be quite the nuisance and they won’t stop until you’ve tamed them by meeting their demands. Luckily they’ll unlock parts for your Tower of Sour, preventing the species you tamed from entering your garden again.

RARE put a lot of effort into designing all these species of piñatas, the game has sixty or so, and that’s what makes this game work. The amount of work that has gone into making the Viva Piñata universe believable is immense and you can really tell. Each time you’ll be introduced to new species you’ll be amazed with the great character design. Every piñata species has its own sounds, animations, demands and its own house. You’ll be spending an estimated 20 hours to even get to see all of the species, and that’s rushing.

Viva Pinata

From the get-go Viva Piñata was advertised as a kid’s game, it was announced simultaneously with a Saturday-morning kid’s show on 4Kids.tv and the game has a lot of kid-friendly features, such as an optional simpler control scheme and the ability to assist using a second controller. However, looks can be deceiving and this is an excellent example. It takes a lot of effort to keep your garden clean and your piñatas happy and you’ll be flipping through menu screens quite a bit. You’ll often find yourself looking stuff up in the Piñata Encyclopedia or on sites such as the Piñata Island wiki to get the most out of the game and it’s safe to say that 6 year old Timmy won’t. Sure the television series has some gameplay tips in it but those will only get you so far.

But that’s tough luck for little Timmy because we’re left with an awesome and deep god game that you’ll be playing for weeks, if not months. And when you finally do get bored with this game then chances are that the Live co-op patch is finally there. The manual that comes with the game and certain menu screens hint towards the ability to play around in your garden cooperatively. As of now the only Live functionality that’s implemented is the ability to send friends crates with piñatas. This feature might seem simple but you’ll probably find yourself trading and sending piñatas with your friends quite a bit.

Viva Pinata

However, there are a few things keeping Viva Piñata from being perfect. The most annoying thing would be the amount of menus you’ll have to go through in order to get stuff done. Simply buying a seed, planting it and then fertilizing it forces you to go to the village menu, then to the store that sells the seeds, then back to your garden to plant them, then to the village menu, then to the store to buy the fertilizer and then back to the garden to fertilize the plants you just bought. After a while you’ll get used to the process but it could easily be simplified. Other than that it’s a smooth ride. Certain players have complained about a glitch that makes items invisible but RARE said that they’re addressing the issue and the problem only presents itself in certain copies of the game. Our own Jordan Blanco has the glitch and it really keeps him from enjoying Viva Piñata but other crewmembers reported that they haven’t had one single item disappear. Don’t let this keep you from buying the game.

Viva Piñata is highly addictive, easily memorable and truly unique on the Xbox platform. Don’t get fooled by the kiddie image and be sure to give this game a chance when you see it lying around somewhere. The game isn’t only unique in terms of looks but the gameplay is something you, regrettably, don’t see on consoles very much either. RARE hasn’t showed as much promise on the Xbox platform as they had back in the Nintendo days, but the tide has turned, and Viva Piñata has become my sleeper hit of the year, and might very well be my personal game of the year. I sincerely hope we’ll see more titles as unique as this one because, honestly, I’ve seen more than enough shooters for the next couple of decades.

Viva Pianta

Final Score: 9 out of 10 - Very Good (how do we rank games?)

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41 comments on 'Review: Viva Piñata'

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Comment by Shadow000 on 2006-12-04 23:55:17 | Reply

whoa!!! 9 out of 10? guess ill have to try this one…

I spent 1/2 my weekend tending my Viva Piñata garden, 1/3 killing terrorists in R6:Vegas and 1/6 killing locusts in GoW. Viva Piñata is really that good that I spent the most time in it.

Comment by Kate Loire on 2006-12-05 13:15:53 | Reply

BUY THIS GAME!!! *loves it*

I can’t wait to get this game, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time and it sounds like it’s as good as I’d imagined. :)

Comment by Studley on 2006-12-04 23:59:40 | Reply

It rules, in fact a bit too much - I’ve barely been able to get on the 360 since buying it for my girlfriend on Friday…

Comment by Voyager2k on 2006-12-05 00:05:40 | Reply

And your complaint is about barely getting on the 360 and not on the gf ? Strange man you are :)

Comment by jharr on 2006-12-05 00:15:20 | Reply

That same thing happened with me and my girlfriend. She loves it! It is actually a very fun game. Even though I have only played it for a total of 15 minutes since she is constantly playing.

Comment by TheCommenter on 2006-12-05 00:06:22 | Reply

so this aint no kiddies game??

Comment by Matt0817 on 2006-12-05 00:21:19 | Reply

you can buy “romance candy” (viagra) for your pinatas… when a pinata dies, the others eat the candy insides of the deads.

It has many subtleties. The interactions of the object (pinatas, seeds, plants, trees, fertilizer, etc.) are many.

Comment by Matt0817 on 2006-12-05 00:18:29 | Reply

ive had more fun with Viva Pinata than Gears of War…

Use the D-pad to make real-time tool change and walop seedo’s weak point for massive seedage.

Comment by TheCommenter on 2006-12-05 00:54:50 | Reply

do i have to shame when i buy this from local game store or can i buy it proudly without blushing`??

Proudly :D

Its worth it, I gave it 9 of 10 also

Comment by AugustusBot on 2006-12-05 01:26:58 | Reply

Viva Pinata > Halo franchise.

That is so true. VP is so addictive.

Comment by fanappy on 2006-12-05 03:41:41 | Reply

i spent bout 20 minutes talking 2 the guys at game in my town about this game they convinced me it was a necessary purchease after GoW i love it totally addicted and im catching up with nino (slowly)

Bought the game and really was fun, but after a few days it got pretty repetitive and boring. Its a great game dont get me wrong, it just seems it loses its touch after you’ve ‘been there done that’

Comment by Carabus on 2006-12-05 13:06:30 | Reply

Soundz good…

My interest in this game has grown and grown and now its peaking, shame I got Gears and Pro evo for christmas and can’t afford it myself.¬_¬

I wish I’d bought this instead of Sonic :|

i really wan’t this game

I WANT THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!
:(

I’m buying this one!

Comment by roger on 2006-12-16 22:47:59 | Reply

Xboxic,

Thank you for honestly reviewing this game. I had doubts about it when I first bought it because everyone else was giving it 8.5/10.

This game definitely has more depth and interesting gameplay than most of the other titles out there.

Everyone go get it!!

This game is truly superb, one of the best 360 titles to date! Highly recommended.

Comment by knickersnot on 2006-12-30 13:34:06 | Reply

got to be the worst game ever

i am now a viva widowa.

my wife has taken over my 360….. ARGHHHHH

jkjgtjhgtrjjrhgjhtrj and more info

hgfcghjkljhvgcfxdzrjhkb

This game is truely awesome. I went to buy it for my mates girlfriend… and after watching her play it for so long, I decided i’d take a proper look.

Jesus, does it get tough! Its definatly not a kids game.. and it really holds its own as an awesome building and ecosystem sim. A truely spectacular game worthy of every penny!!

Comment by The_Glovner on 2007-01-05 14:12:06 | Reply

You bought it for your mate’s girlfriend?

Does your mate know this? What were you looking for in return?

Comment by Rentage on 2007-01-05 20:45:28 | Reply

so it sounds like and awesome game… but maybe the type you would rent instead of buy?

Comment by Rentage on 2007-01-05 20:46:06 | Reply

an awesome game that is*

Hello good design. Very nice. 0n79p7 Enjoy. Goodbay.

Comment by The_Glover on 2007-01-18 12:15:03 | Reply

I hate this spam shit, stupid cunts.

Makes me go and look at an old thread just to see what has been said and it turns out to be this useless shit.

Pricks.

Comment by The_Glover on 2007-01-18 17:08:21 | Reply

I hate this spam shit, stupid cunts.

Makes me go and look at an old thread just to see what has been said and it turns out to be this useless shit.

And you are still a buch of Pricks.

Comment by HEAVENLYFOUR on 2007-01-18 23:31:40 | Reply

u guys are fking fagets, this game is so boring. i want to shit on it!

Comment by The_Glover on 2007-01-19 15:24:57 | Reply

No you, sir are a fucking faggot because instead of a hetrosexual relationship you would rather bend over and slide a pole up your loose flapping arsehole.

Comment by The_Glover on 2007-01-21 09:24:48 | Reply

Stick your fucking homepage up your rotten sticking crusty flaky arsehole.

Comment by The_Glover on 2007-01-22 11:40:19 | Reply

Fuck your homepages, fuck your ringtones but most of all fuck you.

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