Review by Pure Invasion
"Cute and cuddly..."
This game could not possibly have come out at a worse possible time. Not only was being swallowed byt he hype that is Gears of War but with the impending PS3 and Wii releases merely days away this may be one of those games that is simply overlooked (something that is no fault of it's own), but merely a direct fault of consumers themselves.
Remember seeing the graphics on Animal Crossing for the Gamecube and literally saying WTF?! Well, the first time you turn on the game you'll literally be saying WTF?! It's so cute and cuddly and the pretty colours and the smiling faces, ohh and the candy. Actually next to a select few games currently on the X-Box 360, Viva Pinata ranks within the top 3 in my mind in terms of next-gen graphics (behind only G.R.A.W. and Gears of War, sorry Oblivion fans). It's style is simply a sight to behold. Old and young alike will find themselves loving the visuals as it truly is one of the rewarding parts of the game. I guarantee anyone walking past your television as you play it will find their heads turning to see just what the heck you are playing. The colours draw you in, the gameplay keeps you in (see below).
In the simplest way, let's just say the sound works. It does it's job and that's all you really asked it to do. Each animal makes it's proper noise and every written dialogue is also voice acted regardless of how minuscule the dialogue may prove to be. Bottom line, everything is spoken and everything gets the point across. Sure the game may lack those driving rock riffs that pull you into some games, but this is Viva Pinata, not Halo...so you'll have to excuse it.
Once again it does exactly what's asked of it. With two controller layouts; a simplistic one for younger gamers or an advanced one (which is modelled after a third person shooter control scheme), the controls respond well and do exactly what you'd ask. Although sometimes the simplest of things turn into four different button presses (*cough* selling things *cough*) for what it accomplishes it does a great job.
Let's just put it this way, the gameplay makes this game what it is and there's no two ways about it. It is so easy to begin, yet at the same time so hard to put down. You start off with a garbage pile of a garden and are given the task of rebuilding it while also attracting various Pinata residents. Think of it how I think of it, it's sort of Pokemon on crack (gotta catch em' all!). While your first resident will be a worm (I'm not using their actual gameplay names), lay a few patches of grass down and you'll soon notice a snake will come and drop by. Likewise, build a pond to attract ducks or frogs and build specific flowers to attract different insects, and those are only naming a few. Getting the Pinata interested in your garden is only half the battle; by clicking the "Y" button when on a Pinata you'll see conditions you'll have to meet before a Pinata will become a resident. The snake for example will need to eat a mouse before staying in your land and the squirrel will need to eat 3 Hazelnuts before making a new home on you land. Each Pinata breed has specific requirements that must be met in order to make it a resident. Of course if you do not wish to have a certain Pinata on your land don't fulfill it's requirements or simply beat it with your shovel to send it back to Pinata heaven as a pile of candy is thrown on your land for your Pinatas to eat...yes people...the Pinatas are cannibals. There's romancing, building, healing, buying, selling and the list goes on. I've only touched the surface of the game in this review and would need about twenty more pages to even begin digging below the surface of this gem of a game.
While I have not been through more than 8 hours of the game and seen roughly 20 different breeds of Pinata, let's put it this way, do not be turned off by the graphics, do not be turned off by the lame TV show bearing the same name. This game is worth every penny and then some. I admit I was skeptical when I first heard about this game, though picking it up in the store and taking it home to play is easily one of the best gaming decisions I've made as of late. Buy this game, do not rent it as a rental will not, I repeat NOT do this game justice. While the game can be played by younger gamers, it is truly the older ones who will take full advantage of it. Your garden requires careful mapping to attract the right type of Pinata. You must separate certain breeds of Pinata or they'll become hostile towards one another and you must progress fairly far into the game (experience wise) before the bigger and better Pinata that everyone wants start to become available. All in all, this game requires a tedious amount of micromanaging to ensure everything gets along, though you could always let hell rein loose too as that's always amusing (try watching the snake creep up on the unsuspecting mouse). Coming from a 21 y/o gamer who was looking for a relaxing game to play when I don't have time to do a hour long quest in a different game, I definitely found more than I bargained for. Oddly enough, Gears of War hasn't been back in my system since Viva Pinata entered my world...
Final Score: (not an average)
9/10 (because no game should ever be called perfect)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/15/06
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