Review by ErinIsADrunk
"Viva Pinata being god has never been more fun"
Viva Pinata is game developed by Rare and published by Microsoft for its Xbox 360 gaming platform. Viva Pinata is at it's heart a god game, where you play an over lord of a garden where you grow plants, decorate, make money and of course raise Pinatas. Don't let the games kiddy image fool you though, this is a game that can thoroughly be enjoyed by both kids and adults a like.
The visuals in Viva Pinata are beautiful, the game is very colorful and the animations are superb giving life to the resident Pinatas, which themselves are very well designed with each having lots of details unique to their species. That said Viva Pinata suffers from noticeable framerate issues with game shuddering frequently especially when transitioning from menu to menu, at certain points the game almost freezes. In addition to these problems the game suffers from tons of glitches that range from Pinatas turning invisible to Pinatas magically walking through fences. As for the sound design, it's stellar but nothing out of the ordinary and you're not likely to notice it too much. Voice-overs while limited are well done and the sounds the different Pinatas make are interesting and cool.
While the game may sport a kiddy image and seems to be aimed towards kid and may seem like an easy game to play don't be fooled, this game will kick your ass in the beginning. At first the game is incredibly overwhelming and very difficult as you try and manage attracting new Pinatas, prettying up your garden and preventing fights from breaking out. Part of this challenge arises out of the lack of clear direction in the beginning, this lack of direction continues later in the game, as it is difficult to figure out resident, romance requirements for Pinatas as they are given to you one at a time instead of all at once. However, the game does an excellent job of introducing new concepts and items such as tool upgrades, helpers and items to ward of the baddies that as you get the hang of the game makes it easier to manage and at the same time introduces new challenges to keep the game interesting. Learning all this takes time a dedication but the pay off is huge as it creates a huge sense of accomplishment as you see your garden finally starting to come together. Some annoyances will pop later in the game with the inability to prevent low-level Pinatas who resident requirements are easily met from entering your garden.
By Viva Pinata's greatest strength is in the shear amount of depth that the game provides the player. The game provides you will so many things to see and do that you will easily spend 20 hours in the game just collecting Pinatas and decorating your garden, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Past that the game heavily encourages experimentation through finding different variants in Pinatas colors, evolving certain Pinatas, fertilizing plants to get maximum value and wild card Pinatas, which only adds to the overall ability to customize your garden. How you play the game is totally up to, which if your sick can lead to a lot of messed up things. For example if your concerned only about making as much money as possible you can cage up your Pinatas and just make them shag as much as possible then sell of their offspring for money. Another example of the more sick side of Viva Pinata is that certain species of Pinatas will be natural enemies and start fights or you might just be bored of particular species, choosing which species you want to keep brings in the genocidal element as you go around and slaughter the species you no longer want to have in your beautiful garden. The game also allows for multiple gardens with money made in your other gardens being useable in new ones, which allows you to create themed gardens. I personally have several themed gardens including one based on the TV show. Once you are hooked and see the depth that the game has to offer expect to loose yourself to the game.
The online is the one big chink in Viva Pinata's armor. Because Microsoft wanted to push this a family friendly title the online seems to have been hampered and the game could have really benefited from some Live functionality. The game has leader boards as a basic form of live implementation but past that your only going to get the ability to trade Pinatas with people on your friend's list, which is nice but not enough in the end. It would have been nice to be able to visit your friend's gardens and help out your friend's something that could have really helped newcomers that had friends who had been playing the game for a while. Also there is no Downloadable Content for Viva Pinata, the only extra content available over live is already on the disk and you pay for a key to unlock some accessories for the game. The game could have experienced a strong second-life with the addition of new plants and Pinatas and to neglect it comes as considerable disappointment.
At the end of the day Viva Pinata is a fantastic game that Xbox 360 owners owe to themselves to at least check it out. Once you get passed all your preconceived notions of what this game is you'll find a deep and addictive game that is among the best the 360 has to offer.
On the ErinIsADrunk drunk-o-meter Viva Pinata gets a very solid 9 passed out drunks out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/24/07
Game Release: Viva Pinata (US, 11/09/06)
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