Viva Pinata (360) – Initial Impressions

Well, not really initial impressions as I’ve played the game a bit before, but this time I really sunk a few focused hours into the game to get a better feel for it, as it’s suddenly been getting a lot of hype around.

Viva Pinata is basically a sim game, almost along the lines of Zoo Tycoon but much better done and enjoyable (the game is developed by Rare, who has done several hits of the past including Donkey Kong Country, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Kameo).  Basically, the goal is to try to build a garden using the pinata-based creatures to attract rarer pinata-based lifeforms and improve the overall appearence of your garden and your gardening abilities.  You first need to attract creatues to the garden by meeting certain requirements, and then after getting two of them together, you need to make sure their needs are met to encourage romance and the birth of more of their type within the garden.  The most basic form of pinata-based life requires minimal to get going, but higher life forms will not mate until they have devoured some of the lower forms.  This may require making sure you get the lower forms mating enough to get enough creatures to mate as to provide the requirements for the higher level ones.   You also need to consider the environment in your garden and the plants you keep.  As you get more high level species in the garden, your gardening rank increases and you gain access to tools to simplify the low-level duties so you can focus on the harder stuff.  Stores help to provide monetary shortcuts for the hard work you typically have to do to maintain the low level stuff going in the game.

Of course, as the game is targetted to younger players, the ‘violence’ in the game is minimal – it’s made sure that all the creatures are pinatas and thus are meant to be broken to get at the candy goodness inside.  And while you have to mate, there’s only fully interludes of the creatures doing a mating dance ritual, so it’s definitely a fine game for kids to play.

The game looks beautiful on the 360.