|System: PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Climax||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 6, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The piñatas are wildly adorable, they possess interesting personalities, and they add an element of unpredictability and excitement to the game. Once you've managed to attract piñatas and persuade them to take up residence in your garden, you can breed them to gain experience, boost your population, or even to sell for extra gardening funds. When mating conditions are met for a particular species, bringing the couple together will initiate a romancing mini-game where you will have to guide one piñata to the other through a brief maze filled with chocolate coins.
A successful courtship will cause the two to enter into their abode and perform an often hilarious mating dance unique to their species. Having different species in the same garden can yield unexpected results as well. Certain piñatas will not get along and start fights, while some will even kill other piñata species lower on the food chain and eat their candy. You may find yourself wielding the shovel from time-to-time against unruly piñata or invaders.
Much like other sandbox titles, Viva Piñata affords players a vast amount of freedom to experience the game as they see fit. The garden can be built up and customized in any way you see fit, and different piñatas will mosey on in as a result. As your garden grows and new piñata species prosper, you'll gain experience and upgrades. Interacting with the other odd human inhabitants of the island allows you to deck out your piñata in goofy outfits, hire helpers to tend the garden for you, defend your turf from raiders, and purchase special buildings and items, among other things. It's a deep game with lots to offer players.
The PC version of the game is essentially a straight port of the original Xbox 360 title released this time last year. The only major difference in the PC version is the keyboard and mouse controls. Players can use a special Windows Xbox 360 controller, but the mouse controls will be familiar and less cumbersome to many players. Dealing with most piñatas, items, or scenery elements involves simple point-and-click actions. Rotating and moving the camera around to the proper angle is problematic due to the sensitivity (which can be adjusted). Even with its quirks, this control scheme is superior to attempting the game with a controller.
Viva Piñata is set in a bright and colorful world full of mostly pleasant sights and sounds geared towards younger audiences. Even with its kid-appeal, the game actually seems more fitting a match for adult gamers. The complexity of micromanaging the land, meeting the needs social and mating needs of piñatas, and gaining experience for future upgrades may be too much for some kids to keep up with. Older gamers, on the other hand, will find the game greatly surpasses standard kid fare.
CCC Freelance Writer