|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rare||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft Game Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBA 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 5, 2008 - Although it was billed as primarily a family-friendly game, Viva Piñata was a title that really transcended its genre to become a game anyone could enjoy. It didn't have a definite play time and was really one of those titles that had a lot of gameplay flexibility, depending on who played it. Casual gamers could focus on the broader aspects of the game for a more simplistic experience, and hardcore gamers could delve into the details and intricacies for more complex gameplay.
Viva Piñata was one of the most beloved titles on the Xbox 360 when it first came out, and now that it is back for a second run, gamers on all sides of the spectrum can be excited. There are some serious changes and improvements coming with this second iteration! The story this time involves Pester, who has a dastardly plot involving the piñatas. It seems he is trying to use them for his own evil purposes, and it will be up to you to attract as many piñatas as possible in order to keep them safe from Pester's evil clutches! Pester will have some new abilities this time and will be able to block interested piñatas from coming into your garden.
The most obvious new feature will be the scores of new piñata species (which include species like Bispotti beetle, Walrusk, and Crowla). Of course, most people probably saw this coming, but in addition there will also be new ways to interact with the different piñatas. Standard piñatas, as well as sour and exotic piñatas will all need some sort of special attention from you. For those who were uncannily attached to the piñatas of the original, fear not! All the original piñatas will be in this title as well.
In addition to new piñatas, there will also be new environmental elements. There will be new floor options, including snow and sand to accommodate all the diverse new piñata life. You will also be able to put new holiday or character themed items in your garden. There are definitely many more ways this time around to create a personalized garden, and since the developers know there's no point in having a great garden unless you can show it off, there will be vastly expanded community support. You will be able to take photos of your garden, upload them to a community page, and send them to friends. The community feature will also make it easier to share stats and find co-op partners.
One of the biggest and most exciting new features in Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is the ability to take part in two-player co-op. Veterans of the original know how frustrating it is when trying to improve one section of their garden just to have an incident occur at the other side. But now, instead of dropping everything to go deal with it, you can just find a friend who is willing to be your extra pair of hands. The implementation of co-op is also great news for families who like playing together. In addition to the local co-op, there will also be some online support, although details have not yet emerged as to what these online modes will exactly entail.
With all these upgrades, it seems like Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is offering a very deep experience that really caters to the Xbox 360's hardcore audience. It might seem like the younger/casual audience that this game was originally targeted towards will be a little overwhelmed by the new features. Fortunately, this Viva Piñata will have a mode just for this audience. Dubbed the "just for fun" mode. This mode omits some of the more challenging elements of the game such as sour piñatas, weeds, and sickness (which are erased completely), and you receive an infinite budget to build your garden with. This mode sounds like it will be really fun for newcomers to the series and younger players, and it will also be a nice introduction for those who want to eventually play the full version of the game.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise will also feature support for the Xbox LIVE Vision peripheral. In addition to importing personal pictures, the camera will also work with printed barcodes that will unlock special features in the game. The exact details about how to get your hands on these barcodes are still emerging, but it sounds like there will be a card game as well as some promotional material containing barcodes. Members of the Viva Piñata community will also be able to make their own barcodes so friends can print them out and import friends' piñatas into their garden.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise looks like it's going to attract both newcomers as well as Piñata veterans. It has so many new features that will both extend and deepen the already immersive Piñata experience introduced in the original. The title is on-track for release sometime later this year, and I'm sure many fans are eagerly awaiting this one!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor