• games
  • Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise
Mark Mazzei

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  • System: Nintendo DS
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Genre: Sandbox Game
  • [extra data]

2006’s Xbox 360 release of Viva Piñata was a breath of fresh air for the console’s incredibly narrow demographic. So it’s really of no surprise that the game didn’t sell that well during the holiday season despite critics being unusually receptive to Rare’s lovely piñata simulator.

RashberryEven though the first game wasn’t the runaway success Rare hoped for, there is no denying that the Viva Piñata franchise is one of Rare’s more ambitious titles to date. With Microsoft’s ongoing support and the 4Kids TV show (oh, and that Krome-developed party game we’d rather soon forget), a game like Viva Piñata, in theme with its animals, just can’t be contained to a single console.

Enter the Nintendo DS. Just as you can’t deny how ambitious the franchise aims to be, there is also no denying that two things plagued the first game: a lack of marketing focus, and the system itself. This isn’t ourselves trying to insult the console; it’s simply that any game that doesn’t have guns, cars, or prostitutes just has a huge challenge of selling well on Microsoft’s recent console. This is where the DS comes in: a portable system with a very expanded demographic of customers and games themselves. Shane Kim hinted in the past that Viva Piñata, alongside Kameo, would be perfect fits for the DS portable, making “a lot of sense in a lot of ways.” Soon afterwards, Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise was officially announced at Comic Con 2007.

For those unfamiliar with what Viva Piñata on the Xbox 360 had to offer, players were given a barren and empty garden, once belonging to the greatest gardener on Piñata Island, as your own to continue the legacy. Throughout the game, by attracting piñatas, mating them, building houses, planting trees and flowers and even changing the landscape of your garden to attract piñatas, you gain extra levels. In turn, this allows you to get more elusive piñatas, helpers, plants, and even the ability to expand your garden to the largest it can be.

An Eden in your pocket

Seeing how Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise is a port of the 360 version minus the graphical quality of its big brother, all of these features made the cut to the DS version. However, with every good port, there are a slew of extras and little changes here and there to make it a worthwhile purchase to both Piñata veterans and newcomers.

Sour MacaracoonFor starters, the entire game is mainly stylus based. Everything can be utilized through the top-down menu in which you can decide what store you want, what tool you need, and even things as simple as tickling your piñatas. By using the stylus and touching something, you can get information on it, and by touching it again you can access the Encyclopedia, which houses everything of utmost importance. Episodes mode has 12 short levels hosted by the familiar characters of the Viva Piñata TV show. They’re small objectives that the player must complete, and they show specific aspects of the game. Playground mode is your casual pick up and play mode: you can just play around with the landscape and get anything you want. Like many famous celebrities, money isn’t an issue in the game. Last but not least, a total of 7 new piñatas will be exclusive to this game as well as the upcoming Trouble in Paradise.

Viva Piñata was all about communication and trading, and while there is no Wi-Fi mode, you can still trade piñatas through a local connection. In fact, it’s the only way to acquire some of the rarer piñatas. How practical that actually is without Wi-Fi will be an interesting thing to be seen.

While a few things didn’t make the cut such as Leafos herself, no romance minigames, lesser variant colors for piñatas, and an early announced and later cancelled Wi-Fi mode, the DS port will be sure to offer down under paradise with the quality and challenging difficulty that the original game had. Set to release sometime in the Fall of this year courtesy of THQ, MundoRare will keep you updated with any news as it breaks as well as a future first impressions and/or review of another Rare title’s return to Nintendo’s pastures.

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