Review by thesampleman
"What is in the chocolate that Rare is serving?"
Viva Pinata may be aimed at the younger generation, older gamers out there can also rejoice. Never before has a kiddie game been so darn fun, and so darn addicting. It makes one think, what really is in the chocolate that Rare is serving up here?
The graphics in this game are just beautiful. The pinatas themselves are vibrant and nicely thought out and executed. Yhe characters such as Seedos are designed nicely. The vibrancy of the colors alone are not the only good things about the pinatas themselves, it is the fact that you can see the paper they are made of, courtesy of the Xbox 360's graphical power. Literally you can see every paper strip that these little pinatas sport. Each paper strand is colored and full of detail.
Now onto the backgrounds and the environment. The background scenery in Viva Pinata is literally the best background scenery of any Xbox 360 game out there. Everything in the scenery from distant Pinata Central to the grass you just laid are vibrant and full of detail. The houses are detailed and nice looking and looking in on the pinatas in their habitat, is fun. Each interior section of each house has a different feel and look, and are full of vibrant colors and textures.
Another reason why the graphics are top notch is because of the weather effects. Rain comes flying down and splashes on the ground. It is very real and very satisfying to watch your pinatas running around in a living breathing environment. Not only is the weather good but night time game play is fun and watching the moths house light up is a pure joy.
The sounds are a mixed bag. There are some good and bad sounds in this game. On the good side is the fight music. Yes the pinatas do fight in this game, and yes the music does alert you to this impending disaster. The music overall is decent and you can eventually grow to like it. Also each of the pinatas do make sounds that are tell tales of what they are. However, the best sound effect in all of gaming is the children yelling "yaaaaaay", after either you pummel your own pinatas with a shovel or they break apart after getting eaten by another pinata, to reveal their chocolate laced insides.
On the bad side however, is the character voices. They are so disappointingly annoying sometimes, you'll wish you could bang your head against a wall. The chief person that causes this is Leafos, the person you have to endure for the first few hours of the game. After that point you are more on your own and this will not be much of a problem.
Really there is only a general story and it goes something like this: You wander on Pinata Island. You come up to a girl weeping. She asks for your help. You help her and then you become this gardens manager. You then are charged with bringing this meager and dilapidated heap of a garden back to it's former glory. It is not much of a story, but at least it is something to let you know maybe why these strange characters run around on that plot of land and some back story on said characters. Really after that there is no story, it's just you tending to your garden.
On the control side of things the game handles pretty well. The game was developed with children in mind and well they're so easy a toddler could learn them. The menu system is easy to navigate and get through. There are even thoughtful reminders on the top right of the screen that provides helpful hints of what they do. The camera is easy to control, but sometimes it is hard to locate some of your pinatas. Then at other times when you are trying to romance your pinatas, you'll think you have clicked on one of your pinatas only to find out when you click on the partner that you did not click the first one. This can get frustrating when you have to go back and find the first pinata and try to click on it again. All in all though the controls are simple and very easy to use and get used to.
This is where Viva Pinata really is good. The game is so addicting, that you can not wait to find a new breed of pinata or what type of dance they do when they romance. The concept of gardening to attract pinatas into your garden is a fresh new idea. It's addicting because you never know when a fight will break out between your favorite pinata dressed in top hat and tie, and the renegade pinata that became a resident by eating another of your favorite pinatas. You can do anything you want to in this game it is all up to you. You can dress up and name them or even "kill" them. You can experiment on them or have them romance, the choices are really up to you.
Another part of what makes this game so addicting, is that every action you take has consequences. Just by having your pinatas eat certain things allows your pinatas to change colors, and even in rare occasions change breeds altogether. Every level you gain allows for more things to happen and more and more breeds to be unlocked. The game continues to reward you and reward you until you are rewarded out.
Another cool feature is the ability of co-op game play. Having two players tend to one garden is fun, and a nice way to get a younger brother or sister to play a game with you. The co-op is fun and it lets you take a little bit of time off as you tend to the garden together.
I went into this game saying "oh it's a kiddie game, it'll never be any good!" and came out saying "Maybe "kiddie" games just get a bad rap." This game has changed the way I looked at games made for the kiddies. I highly recommend this as a buy. Not only will you have fun playing this game, but maybe if you have a little sibling, you'll be able to spend some quality time together and build a garden together. This is one of the few games on the 360, that you'll both be able to enjoy at the same time.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/14/07
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