Giant Bomb Review

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Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise Review

4
  • X360

There are just enough new features--and just enough delightfully nutty new pinatas--to warrant a second trip into the garden.

It was hard to go into Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise and look at it as a fully new game. This sequel to Rare's bizarrely cute and addictive 2006 gardening management sim reuses a heaping pile of content from its predecessor, including art assets, music, voiceovers, menu designs, and every single pinata from the original. For the first few hours, Trouble in Paradise felt more like an expansion pack than a real sequel.

The interface improvements make this sequel a lot easier to play.
But the more I dug into the game, the more clever new pinatas I discovered and tamed, and the more compelling and, in some cases, necessary new gameplay features I uncovered. This is definitely more of the same, but there's enough fresh content in here that Trouble in Paradise quickly stoked anew the fires of my weird abiding pinata love.

All the familiar, lovable pinatas from the first game are back, and they all behave pretty much exactly the same. You'll spend just as much time trying to keep your kittyfloss from eating your mousemallows, or setting a taffly on fire and then putting it out with a watering can to evolve it into a more valuable redhott. I would have been put off by all these blatant similarities if the game didn't also do a good job of trotting out the new species, starting with the very first ladybug-like bispotti and continuing on through the tigermisu and other totally crazy larger animals.

Lots of the new pinatas won't show up on the fringes of your own garden. Instead, they live in the far-flung wilderness, in the icy Pinarctic and the arid Dessert Desert. You can travel to those places and drop some baited traps to retrieve new pinatas like the pengum, vulchurro, sweetle, and robean. There's not much else to do in the wilds besides enjoy the change of scenery, but since you have to entice these captured pinatas to stay after you nab them, you can also now lay down sand and snow in your own garden. Those new terrain types will later attract even more advanced regional pinatas, like the walrusk.

The last game forced you to hit the A button through numerous menus--and almost as many loading screens--every time you wanted to buy anything for your garden. That's OK once in a while when you want to add an uncommon object like a glow rock to spruce up your surroundings, but when you have to plow through the menu pile every time you need to plant a seed or fertilize a sapling--which you do about every five minutes--it gets old, fast.

Find some wild new species in the desert and arctic areas.
Luckily, Trouble in Paradise has a new context-sensitive pop-up menu that lets you buy seeds, fertilizer, and other common objects without shoving any loading screens or full-screen menus in your face. That makes the gameplay a lot more efficient and pleasant to deal with over the course of the numerous hours you will inevitably play this game, because it's awesome.

Trouble in Paradise turns gardening into a social affair with a four-player mode you can run on Xbox Live or on the same couch. When other gardeners join your game, you can set the level of access they have to your stuff, so you can prevent them from selling your precious rare pinatas or digging a bunch of mud holes everywhere, if you want.

Guest players build up experience and money that go straight back into their own solo gardens, so the multiplayer experience is meaningful and rewarding for everyone. Like its predecessor, the game can get a little hectic at times with so much going on at once, so it can be useful to have an assistant or two to help you focus on a particular task. (I ran into some trouble when a higher-level player joined my low-level garden and brought a bunch of nasty sour pinatas with him, but quitting the multiplayer game and restarting it seemed to restore my garden to its former peaceful splendor.)

Viva Pinata might look like a kiddy game, but the management gameplay is surprisingly complex and hectic. That might have turned off casual players last time around, so Rare has included a "Just for Fun" mode here that relaxes the rules of pinata attraction and gives you unlimited money. I don't have much use for this mode because half the reason I play Viva Pinata is for the the rewarding feeling of meticulously setting up my garden's flora and terrain to entice new pinatas into staying there. But it's a nice feature for those who want to just mess around in a really pretty garden without feeling a lot of pressure or reading a daunting list of pinata resident requirements.

It's OK to like Viva Pinata. Honest.
Strangely, the new Pinata Vision feature negates some of that reward if you let it run away with your self-control. You can take in-game pictures of your pinatas and items and then upload those to the game's web site, where they're converted into downloadable trading card images that contain bar codes you can scan back into someone else's game with the Xbox Live Vision camera.

This is a nice idea in theory, when the game isn't being picky about the lighting conditions, camera focus, and distance while you're trying to scan the image. But it can also make the game way too easy. Even before release, there were a number of advanced pinata cards floating around the Internet that gave me a silly amount of experience and money just by scanning them into my game. Nobody's making you use the cards, of course, but once the game is out for a couple of weeks and you can find cards for every top pinata online, it'll be really easy to cheese your way to a top level just by dropping cards in. At least the game makes some effort to curtail your use of cards in various situations, but I still ended up with a number of valuable species that seemed way beyond my level.

Trouble in Paradise offers everything the first game did--literally--with a heap of new content and enough streamlined gameplay mechanics to get even an experienced gardener's green thumb back into action. And if you never tried the original game, first of all, shame on you. Second, go play this one. The reasonable $40 price tag only sweetens the deal on this vastly improved version of one of the Xbox 360's most unique and endearing games. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
57 Comments
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Posted by Cowman

Dude that cartoon Brad is something awesome.

Posted by Gregomasta

I am loving all the new cartoons pics that go along with your scores, brad your 5 star is pretty epic.

Posted by MattBodega

God, I can't wait to grab this game!

Posted by deaux

Not to nitpick, but surely you can type an  eñe.

Do the new drawings mean you'll have a different 
picture for different scores like Jeff and Ryan talked 
about before the site launched?
Can't wait to see what you look like at 1 star :)
Posted by MasterSplinter

The first Viva was a fantastic surprise and I can't wait to play Trouble in Paradise. Even if it is more of the same, the $40 price tag is too enticing to overlook. The multiplayer component was a great addition as well. Great review Brad and superb job Rare! Hopefully Banjo will turn heads as well.

Posted by DrVanNostren

I wish this game wasn't coming out at such a bad time, otherwise I would probably buy it.

Posted by GalvanizedNails

to quote brad, they're totally making another Viva Pinata game! and thats not a bad thing. I played maybe 10 hours of the original and then my hard drive failed and I just never went back. maybe now I will

Posted by MeatSim

40 bucks for a brand new release you can't beat that.

Posted by lvl10Wizard

oh wow that sounds great i traded my Viva PInata and regretted it so I'm definitely going to get this one and keep hold of it :)

Posted by Meltbrain

Sweet, dude. I played about 10 hours of the original and enjoyed it a heck of a lot. Definitely going to pick this up at some stage I think.

Posted by Relys

I never played the first one.

I guess I'll pick this one up when my 360 get's back from repairs.

Posted by TheGTAvaccine

Man I just didnt like the first at all.

Guess I'll give this one a try though.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Cool icon Brad.  Also, good review.  I think I am gonna buy this game.  Love the first and the price tag.

Posted by Ontheocho

Question:

Are you going to have multiple "Brad" icons for the different levels of reviews? like a Sad Brad? Mad Brad?  I'm enjoying the Glad Brad.

Posted by TomA

I still don't know.I have a qustion for you guys.I never played the first one but this one looks pretty good.Is there enough to keep me entertained.Or is it more like Endles Ocean.

Posted by slowpantz

love viva so much !

Posted by macattack

i just barrowed the first one from my neighbor for a few days, and liked it a lot so i think i will probably get this one too. It's also nice not having to pay 60 bucks for the game too.

Posted by frenchdork

you can see Brad and Jeff's 5 star rating Avatar with their previous reviews of MGS4 and Battlefield:Bad Company. It's pretty funny. Especially Ryan's 1 star Avatar for Fable 2 Pub Games.

Online
Posted by Eleo

I like that the game is realistically priced at 40bux.  I enjoyed the first one.  I might pick this up.

Posted by gouveia

lol who the fuck plays this??

Posted by Lies

Heard tons about the original, but I didn't have an Xbox then. Now I do, and I certainly plan on picking this up.

Posted by Knigge

How come no (p)review I've read yet mentions the size of the garden or how many objects you can place in it. These were issues in the first one that seem to now be overlooked. What's the deal, Brad? Update please.

Posted by Redfield

gouveia: Anyone with any sense! Viva Pinata is so damn fun!

Posted by SkylinePigeon

Ha, I'm loving the "It's ok to like Viva Pinata" caption... I've been playing the hell out of the first one for the past few weeks, and I have to struggle really hard not to be embarrased by that.  :P

Posted by megalowho

I don't know if Trouble in Paradise having "just enough" over the original Viva Pinata is going to do it for me. I poured a ton of time into that game, and as much as I enjoyed every minute I feel pretty much done with the experience at this point. Though the $40 price tag is tempting. 

Posted by Emandudeguyperson

Cool people play it gouveia

Posted by Bennyishere

Hopefully my sister buys this so I can have an excuse to play it... sort of like what I'm doing with the first Viva Pinata right now!

Posted by imHunt

Wow, this actually sounds like it improved. May be more of the same, but good for them for improving it and making it more approachable. I'd definitely give it a try.

Posted by smellyfarts

Awesome review Brad.  I don’t have an Xbox, yet.  But, I am for sure going to get this for my DS when it comes out next week so I can play it when I am travelling.     

Posted by iMiles

My copy arrived this morning... niiiiiiice. Day early.

Posted by momentarylogic

Your love of Pinata's scares the poop out of me Brad.

Posted by Kohe321

Cool new icons! Awesome that you have icons for each score. Great review!

Posted by Rually

I loved the first VP, never had the time to devote to it though. Might pick this up after playing through the first one more.

Posted by Paithan

I just browsed some stores here in Sweden, and noticed it is priced at $80. But that is the in the lower price range of new games here and many new titles for XBOX360 and PS3 are priced at $110. And still I just keep buying... There must be something wrong with me...

Posted by Fiziks

Fist pump cartoon Brad should most certainly be the face of Giant Bomb.

Posted by VegaDemonLord

Animated Brad made me day.

Posted by SLE4ZY

Ill be buying this

Posted by deaux
gouveia: I guess you didn't read the review, or the comments, or...anything about this game or the first one.
Posted by SpikeDelight

I haven't read the review yet but I just had to say that this animated Brad saying "Score!" just made my day! I love Giant Bomb!

Posted by nerouke

great video review Brad!

Posted by Froggles

Best video review ever. Just about to pop out and get a copy now...

Posted by JonathanMoore

An absolutely great review, funny stuff man.

Unfortunately, no 360 for me...so.

-- God Bless.

Posted by CraigAA1028

Whos plays a game like this you may ask?

ONLY THE MANLIEST OF MEN! I PLAY IT! BRAD PLAYS IT! THE WORLD SHOULD PLAY IT! MAN SQUAD!
Posted by PhilEvils

I thought the first viva pinata needed more recognition, not my type of game, but as a sim game it was great.

Posted by lantus

Haha that ending reminded me of Southpark and the Heroine Hero.

Posted by Octopus_Prime

Just plain brilliant ending
Just watching the joy brad was experiencing from the game makes me want it

Posted by GotMilk

The UK has full price :(
that sucks ass

Posted by Oemenia

Great sequel, hopefully this one sells well

Posted by Oemenia

Brad is so much better at GB, hes much more comfortable

Posted by screath

The original was a very good game. I can see how it's sequel could be even better.

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