seanbooker's Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (Xbox 360) review

Whirim isn't the starter pinata?!

If your one of the many who didn't play the original Viva Pinata or find that it's just a child's game, you really don't know what your missing. Though now's your chance to see what this whole thing is about with Rare's sequel to the first: Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise.

Viva Pinata is all about taking care of a garden full of Pinata pets with focus on collecting them and making them romance. Like a real garden, you'll also be able to grow many different types of plants and decorate it with various materials and objects. Though the main point is to have specific items in your garden to attract foreign pinatas and get them to move in. In VP2 you are doing manly the same thing. Which, if your just coming from playing the first one; you might find yourself bored now. The biggest problem with this sequel is that it feels more like an expansion pack that a true stand alone game.

Like it's predecessor, your main goal is to gain levels by growing new plants and trees and making new pinatas come and join your garden. With each new level you will find that you can buy more things, get new equipment and sometimes get more garden space. The game works well in dishing out the experience points, rewarding you each time you see a new pinata, each time one visits and lots for making new pinatas residents and then romancing them. The main point of this whole thing is to keep expanding your garden and get newer and more valuable pinatas. The next main thing it wants you to focus on is romancing pinatas, which involves them having a baby. To do this you must meet each pinatas romance requirements before they can get busy. Romance requirements can be anything from eating a seed to eating a pinata.

What was a major flaw in the first game was all the loads screens it had for even tiny things like buying one seed. You have to open the menu, go to the next menu, wait for it to load, go through some dialogue then go through the stores menu, then buy the seed. VP2 fixes this issue a bit buy letting you have a seed buying tool in your first menu, so there's no load screens if your just buying some seeds. What makes it that much better is if your over a plant and go into this tool; it opens up a selection of fertilizers instead of seeds. This tool makes things much faster and your not always being forced to waste time at a million loads screens.

The thing with this game is that your always multitasking four or five things are once. You may have just planted a tree, so you need to keep an eye on it so it doesn't dry out, but at the same time you might be trying to romance two pinatas, but at the same time one of your pinatas is getting eaten. So the game can get quite hectic, quite fast. This thing alone is probably the biggest note to set it back for being thought of as a game for kids. It require some serious thought to how things work and lots of focus on many things at once. The thing that probably makes this game the hardest is the idea of sour pinatas, which try to ruin your garden. Every now and then you'll have to kill one by breaking it open with your shovel, just to find it laid two weeds. If you don't get rid of those weeds fast, your gonna have an infestation on your hands.

One thing for people who don't want any of this hassle is a new mode called Play For Fun; where you just get to do whatever you want with unlimited money and no worry for any sour pinatas coming in. This also makes getting new pinatas easier so it essentially just makes the game loads more easy and stress free. Though you won't be able to get any of the achievements when playing this mode and it takes a lot of the rewards out of it. Playing the main mode can be more fun because your constantly being rewarded for all your efforts, which is a nice thing to have.

Probably the biggest difference from the first game is the ability to leave your garden to go to different regions. Some pinatas will only be in the two outside regions: Pinarctic and Dessert Desert and you must go there to get these pinatas. When you in the region you must bait traps to capture the pinatas, like other pinatas you will need to check to see what kind of bait work for which pinata. After catching a pinata you can bring it to your garden and begin working on meeting its resident requirements. This works as an good idea but you'll find yourself ignoring those areas a lot of the time because there's plenty of pinatas to get in the main area. It also doesn't get new pinatas as much as the main region does. This is probably the biggest reason this game feels more like an expansion.

Another big difference this game has over it's prequel is the inclusion of Pinata Vision. This uses the xbox live vision camera to scan cards in order to get special things in your garden. Any card you find can be held up to the camera and whatever the card if for, will plunk down into your garden. Now this works fine in theory but it's much to easy to just find a bunch of high level pinata cards online and use them in order to boost your level. Which is fine if you want to just breeze your way to the top level, but it takes away most of the gameplay.

This game also supports online play with up to four people. So now you can have co-op gardeners going around helping you out. This is a great addition for sometimes the stress of a huge garden can become over bearing and it's nice to have a friend to cut some of the work off you. It also has the option of limiting your guests controls so that they don't just got around killing all your pinatas. This idea is good overall and can be fun if you have people who you know won't be jerks.

Apart from this game being looked down upon from the 'core gamer' Viva Pinata 2 is a great game and will get you addicted if your new to it. It shouldn't be looked at as a kids game because a lot of small kids probably wouldn't be able to take all the stress that can build up if you get lazy. So it's okay to like this game and still be into Gears of War. Though if your into the more fast paced games out there and don't really like games like Harvest Moon, you probably won;t gravitate towards this game. Don't take me wrong, this game doesn't match Harvest Moon, but it's probably the kind of game that would be closest to this, specifically the farming part.

Overall Viva Pinata is a fun and good experience for all. You'll most likely find that you won't have this game and the people who are into it, very much like it. Though it does feel more like it should have been an addition to the first, or maybe some parts should have been DLC, you can't really get to angry at that fact since this game sells for budget price at $40. If the beautiful graphics don't pull you in, hopefully the cute and fun pinatas will.

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