Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise Xbox 360 Review
To be bluntly honest I would happily give Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise a big fat 10 if it would move people off their collective arses and get them into a shop to buy the god-damn game. Yes, I know that goes against everything that is good and holy and gaming journalism, but god dammit I don’t care, because the Viva Piñata games are great, and they deserve to sell more than they do. If that does not sound crazy enough, then I would be more than happy to climb up a big mountain and shout at people if it would help sell a few more copies. If you have any more ideas like this then feel free to email me!
But that’s not what you came here for is it, and I bet you’d like to read my opinion on the game rather than my ramblings about you being a fool for not already buying it. So, lets kick off the review then!
In truth there are two ways you could look at the game. The first being if you are brand new to the series. If so, Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is not what you’s initally expect it to be. Yes, it is kid-friendly in places, but it is still not something younger ones would be capable of playing on their own. Beneath the vivid colourful exterior lies a game that relies of intense micromanaging to give you the best results.
You start in a dull barren garden, and you are tasked with sprucing it up to make things want to come and live there. These things are called Piñata (not the ones you hit) and you have to meet various, ever changing conditions to make the biggest brightest ones come and stay. One you get them to come you then have to entice them to mate (see, I told you it was not a kid’s game!).
It all starts of very easy, but once you get past the first hour or so things start getting very hectic, and you have to be up to the task should you want more Piñatas to come, and others to stay alive. As the hours pass by you level up, start whacking things with a shovel, set copious amounts of grass seed, and get very fond of your water can. The Piñata love all this attention, and will start to visit you garden, and unless you have a very cold heart you will start to get attached to the little buggers, which is something you don’t originally expect. So be warned you may end up talking fondly about you Tigermisus and Moojoos should you play too much!
On the other hand if you were one of the smart people who picked up the first, then you can look at the game a different way, and will notice the changes Rare have made to make it more user-friendly. You no longer have to journey through a morass of multiple menus to perform various tasks, and everything is now much closer at hand than ever before thanks to a new context-sensitive menu system. For example if you wanted to get something specific in the shop in the first game it would literally take minutes to find the item you want before you could buy it. In VP2 this has drastically changed, and you can now buy items much quicker. Challenges are also now accessed from an in-game menu, which is also better than last time. There are still a few small interface niggles here and there, but for the most part it is big improvement.
The biggest change this time is the option to venture outside your garden and meet Piñata in the wild. These locations go by clever names such as Desert Dessert and the Piñarctic, and each location will have Piñata that suit it. When in the wild you can’t really do much to directly interact with the Piñata, but you can set traps for them at the cost of a few coins. Once a Piñata falls for a trap they will comically get caught in a box, and get shipped to your garden as a visitor. Apart from these Piñata, Rare boast that a few more Piñata have also being added to the game, which supposedly brings the number available to over 100. I have not caught them all yet, so you’ll have to take their word for it.
If all this thinking is too much for you, and you are just looking for some casual fun, without micromanaging your poor brain to pieces, then Rare have also put a new mode in the game to let you kick back and relax, without worrying about a hundred and one different things as you build you garden. This mode is called Just for Fun, and lets you mess around with an infinite supply of cash, and items, and also has many restrictions removed, offering you unhindered access as to how you want to build your garden. Be warned though, playing in this mode does take a lot of challenge out of the game, and as a result the sense of reward as you build you garden takes a hit too. However, if you are just looking for something relaxing to play with your young son or daughter this is a great mode to help them learn the gameplay. There is even a full-fledged drop-in/drop-out co-op mode this time.
For those that have a Live Vision Camera, there are a few more options available letting you create cards and scan them into the game to unlock certain items. This does feel like a needless add-on though, and when you find out some people are using specific downloadable cards to gain experience and money to effectively cheat their way through the game you’ll wish it was not even available.
So there you have it, that’s my opinion. Like I said at the start I could easily give the game a 10 as I enjoy it so damn much, but to be frank it does not deserve it due to having its fair share of problems. The biggest niggle is that it is not a true sequel, using many assets from predecessor, such as music and voicework.
Nevertheless, this is still a game that deserves to be picked up at some point. It is clever, smart, and once you get into it, damn addictive. I will admit it is probably not the most fun you’ll have all year, and if you like your blood and gore by the bucketload then the rest of the year will in all likelihood give you better thrills. But why not try something new just this once? You just might like it!