Review by MattDark

"The best non-violent game on the 360 yet?"

Rare seem to have come out with their hidden weapon in Viva Pinata, a surprisingly addictive and fun game that even the 'mature' games can enjoy.

The graphics for this game are top notch, each species of pinata is made to look different from the others and like real pinatas, these creatures look colourful, and seem to fit in really well with the environment. The other characters in the game that help you out are all pretty much unique, and fit it with the look of the game, they may look a bit odd, but they are all well made. The environment itself is really well done, which is good considering you'll only be playing in a small area, so there was no excuse to let the environment suffer like other games do when they put so much graphical power into the characters around you. It may not be Gears of War, but that doesn't change that fact that its a great-looking game.

The sound effects fit in well in some places, like using your shovel to pound the hard soil or dig a pond, it sounds right, and there's nothing more satisfying then a hearty 'clang' whenever you hit a person or pinata with the shovel. The people who help you out and talk with all have their own voices, all well done but you may find some that bother you, and the phrases some of them give you may bother you if you constantly talk to them. The pinata also have their own voices for each species, helping them stand out. Although some will either get on your nerves or have you crying in laughter, just don't look inside a full quackberry house if you know what's good for you.

The game is easy enough to play and control, and will help you into how everything works. The main idea of the game is to restore the garden to its former glory by breeding pinatas and growing plenty of plants. Every type of pinata has a set of requirement that you must meet in order to them to visit your garden, start living there and eventually romance with another pinata. While will earn you experience in order to get better items and get more space in your garden. These requirements include things like having a certain plant or pinata in the garden, creating a certain item or even romancing a pinata.
If you ever need to check the requirements, they are all listed in the journal that you receive, with data on everything you have done and seen. One notable problem though, is that while the game may be mainly targeted for kids at first, some of these things may become a bit much for them.

The general story of this game is that you have been asked to tend to a garden after its former owner could no longer work on it himself. With the help of his children who will do certain things for you. More of the story is revealed as you level up in the game, telling you what happened to the original owner and why you've taken his place. Your goal is to raise pinatas, ship them off to parties and restore the garden to its original prosperity before becoming the greatest gardener in the game.

Despite its bright graphics and its kid-friendly system, this is a game that can be enjoyed by all ages. Like a lot of Rares other games, it has some elements that the 'mature' game can enjoy without the use of blood, sex and swearing. So if your looking for something different, give Viva Pinata a try, you wont be disappointed.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/03/07

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