How Does Your Pinata Garden Grow?
Product: Viva Pinata
Company: Microsoft Game Studios
Date: 07/18/2008
Avaliable On:

Viva Piñata was, and in some ways still is, one of the 360's more misunderstood and overlooked games. By all visual indications, it’s a sugary-sweet kids' game, though a peek under the bright, crepe paper veneer reveals one of the system's more enjoyable and challenging strategy games.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise brings players back to Piñata Island only to find it in a bit of a pickle. Professor Pester and his gang have wiped out the island’s computer records, posing a direct threat to parties everywhere. Without the records, Piñatas can’t make it to parties and are scatted all over the island. In order to help rebuild the database, players must build new gardens to attract new piñatas.

This time, players will have more options when creating their gardens. Familiar items like flowers, grass and trees are back and are joined by new terrains like sand and snow which can be placed in gardens to make them attractive to more exotic species of piñatas. Players will also be able to use themed object packs, like pirate coves and graveyards, to further enhance their garden. You’ll even be able to buy devices that control the weather and new toys to keep your piñatas happy and entertained.

Trouble in Paradise is being targeted at both experienced and not-so-experienced gardeners. Just for Fun Mode is available for younger players or those just looking for a more relaxing experience. Many of the hazards that plague gardens in Standard Mode are absent during Just for Fun Mode. Sours will stay out of your garden, your piñatas don’t get sick and you have an unlimited bank account. In Standard Mode, you’ll have to deal with Pester’s attempts to ruin your garden by taming sours and fending off Ruffians. He’ll even try to keep species from finding your garden. This time you won’t be alone; Trouble in Paradise includes a two-player option that will allow both players to tend to the piñata garden.

Aside from the visuals, the game’s slow to start pacing was one of the bigger hurdles keeping players from enjoying the original. In an attempt to speed up the “breaking in” process, the tutorial has been replaced with a Player Guide System that gives players a loose set of goals designed to give them a better handle on how the game works.

One of Trouble in Paradise’s really exciting features is Piñata Vision, which lets players flash specially marked piñata cards in front of the Live Vision camera and drop new piñatas directly into their game. You’ll also be able to use the in-game photo mode to take pictures of the piñatas in your garden and convert them into piñata cards so your friends can add them to their garden.

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise pops into stores later this year.

Starscream aka Ricky Tucker

GameVortex PSIllustrated