#730 Viva Piñata

Posted: 13th December 2010 by Mulholland in Games
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8th game played so far

Genre: Life Simulation
Platform: X-Box 360
Year of Release: 2006
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Microsoft

Ah Viva Piñata. The simple sandbox life simulation where you look after a garden and hope to entice some colourful chocolate-filled pinata animals to live there. Of course there are complications from ‘sour’ pinatas and ruffians who come in to smash about the place… but it would be too easy otherwise.

As premises go it is exceedingly simple, which is probably what makes it so attractive.  It’s loveable cast of characters with their cute sweet-inspired names (such as Sparrowmint and Chewnicorn) actually made this the first game that I got for the 360.

This also marks the first of quite a few Rare games that appear on the list (others including Banjo Tooie and Goldeneye 007) so stay tuned for those.

Our Playthrough

I have wasted so much of my life on this in the past (whilst listening to Joanna Newsom no less) so this is a game where I am letting Jeroen take the lead. After all, it’s still a joy to watch all the little cut-scenes again for the first time… makes me remember how cute a newt can be when animated right.

Our Thoughts

SMASH THE PRETZTAIL!  Don’t you dare touch my bunnies! For those not in the know… a pretztail is a piñata for; one that loves to sneak in and eat your piñata bunnies and chickens (poor Cluckles).

Yeah. Anyway, I can safely say this is a good, fun game and incredibly addictive. I remember it from when I first played it years ago, watching you… reinforced that opinion. Yeah, unfortunately so. In a way I’m happy that we’ve finished our time, because now I have to move on, rather than feeling I could play another hour because ah well, I might as well.

I was really happy to see that this made the list, it’s such an unusual title because of the way it marries normal life simulation, cute creatures and things normally associated with games such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. One disadvantage of only playing 5-6 hours is that you don’t get to see all the different piñatas. Some such as Galagoogoo and the elephant (who I gave some rather festive earrings) are some of the title’s true piñata stars.

Yeah, but this gave a good impression of what is possible, combined with looking at your old garden. Absolutely, at times this can be an incredibly relaxing and easy game… then suddenly you are whacked in the face as saboteurs enter your garden, your piñatas start to fight and you REALLY need to water a tree to stop it from wilting. And all of these can occur in quick succession.

Yeah, especially level-ups can cause this. You gain a rank every once in a while as you play, based on things you do. Because of this, they might occur while, for example, you’re in the middle of breeding your piñatas, and then may cause new nasties to show up, while you get a new shovel and a few other odds and ends, and you hear you need to deal with them all at once. And there were times when I was telling Peter “Yes, I’ll get to that, but I first need to do these three other things!”

And there were times when Jeroen was happily allowing his piñatas to be eaten and it upset me… I guess I’m a bit less sensitive than you with these things. If I can get a nicer or different piñata back for it, I don’t think it’s much of a problem. You can grow incredibly attached to certain piñatas though.

Yeah, the worms are cute. They’re the first piñatas you get, and I got plenty. So are the sparrows, especially when they do their happy dance.


One other thing to mention – while there are a lot of bad things you need to keep track of, the game gets quite flexible in this, and with a bit of work you can return to proper sandbox mode where you can do what you want soon enough. For example, while baddies show up, you can convert most of them, after which they won’t show up as baddies, or you can buy items or helpers that’ll chase them away. Or not, in which case you can deal with it. This way you can create your own difficulty level and deal only with the problems you want to deal with, something which added to the fun to me.

And that makes this game dangerously addictive.

Final Thoughts

And that’s what this is – a colourful, addictive, fun game, that looks cute, steals your heart, and while it can get tough and overwhelming, it’s always easy to recover and bounce back. Whether you want a challenge in keeping away the guardians and smashing every sour pinata that turns up, or just want to see your creatures walk around a nice garden that’s taken care of by all your helpers, this game will work for you.

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