|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rare||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Released: Nov. 9, 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Ryan Schultz
Ah Rare, a company never afraid to present gamers with some truly bizarre gaming concepts. After the lukewarm response of Kameo: Elements of Power, Rare is now offering up a family and kid friendly experience involving piñatas. Yes, thats right piñatas. Viva Piñata, in the simplest of terms can be described as a nurturing/evolution title with bright cutesy graphics. However, the game is much much more than this.
The world of Viva Piñata, as you might guess, revolves around the cute and candy filled party favorites. In fact, each piñata creature has a candy themed name such as Wurm, Syrpent, and Fizzily Bear. These aptly named and decorated piñatas all roam about on Piñata island. In the beginning of the game, you start off with nothing more than an empty patch of farmland. Its up to you to clear, flatten, and plant seeds on your land in order to attract the happy little creatures. Keeping in line with the candy theme, you can collect chocolate coins, which you can use to buy ponds, fences, and even piñata playgrounds.
While the premise of the game may seem unconventional, fans of The Sims and Animal Crossing will appreciate the open-ended style of play. Its an open world, and you can shape it to your liking. Of course, doing things in different ways will change the flow of play. The piñatas will act and react differently to each other say, for instance, if you have them in too cramped of a space or dont give enough food. You can also teach the piñatas teamwork and useful social skills in order for them to accomplish different tasks.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this game deals with increasing the population of piñatas. In what can only be described as hilarious and maybe even a little unsettling, when the time is right, two piñatas will perform their own mating dance. Now keep in mind, this is a child friendly game, so dont expect anything adult. These dances are literally that, a dance, set in a dance hall with a jukebox playing in the background. Classic Rare.
Rare has big plans in store for the Xbox Live marketplace with Viva Piñata. Through Xbox Live, you can purchase various items not found anywhere else. You will also have the option of special delivering a custom made piñata to a friend. However, the best aspect of Live compatibility is the ability to let a friend come a visit your virtual garden. Here, your invited friend can help raise your piñatas, clear more land, or just be rotten and let the evil Ruffian piñatas wreak havoc on your landscape. The possibilities are nearly endless.
With a reported 60 different piñata types, valuable items to collect, and Xbox Live support, Viva Piñata should keep kids and adults alike very busy with this unique title set to hit the Xbox 360 on October 2.
By Ryan Schultz
CCC Freelance Writer