|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rare||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 2, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
and Feeling Fine!
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The original Viva Piñata had to have been one of the biggest sleeper hits on the Xbox 360. It featured casual-friendly gameplay reminiscent of Animal Crossing. You started off with a pretty sparse garden where a few flowers grew and the terrain was uneven and barely fit for piñata life. Fortunately, with a little hard work and many hours of gameplay, you were able to attract different piñatas, grow new and interesting plants, and make what was once a meager plot of land into a lush piñata utopia.
The original Viva Piñata was such a great success, primarily because the fundamental aspects of the game were exceedingly simple, but the potential for deep and meaningful gameplay was huge. This year's follow-up, Trouble in Paradise, incorporates this same style of casually appealing gameplaybut adds a ton of new features. The result is a transformation of the already surprisingly deep Viva Piñata experience into one you can really lose yourself in.
Of course, the first thing fans of the original Viva Piñata will be excited about is the new piñata species. Right from the beginning of the tutorial, you will be greeted with new piñatas and new environments. The world of Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise has been greatly expanded and now includes several new regions you can visit. These new areas include a desert-type area and the snowy "Piñarctic." But, since you can't actually work on your garden in these areas, you'll have to set different types of traps in order to catch these Piñatas in there native environments. You can then keep them in storage at the post office in crates until you are ready to put them in your garden. Any piñatas you catch will be introduced into your garden as visitors. So, you'll still have to fulfill the resident requirements as well as create arctic or desert sub-environments to make your imported piñatas feel more comfortable.
In addition to the bigger world and the new piñatas, there are a lot of other new features that make Trouble in Paradise a more mature Viva Piñata. Chief among these new features is the Just for Fun mode, which creates a lighter Viva Piñata experience suitable for younger or more casual players. In this mode, you'll be able to attract, catch, and romance the different Piñatas, but there will be no monetary system or sour Piñatas. The result is an unlimited-type mode where it is easy to grow your garden big quickly and experiment with different wildcard species and favorite-food combinations. Since there are no restrictions, you can pretty much go wild here with no consequences whatsoever. Even if you are a Piñata professional, I would recommend creating a Just for Fun garden to tinker with the different piñatas.
Other new features that are very casual-friendly are the new co-op modes. There are two different styles of co-op: local and online. The online co-op mode is a more traditional, full co-op mode, where all the players will have complete functionality, but there's a catch. The person who set up the garden is able to set permissions for visitors, and can decide what, if anything, the visitors can change. But, if you really trust your Xbox LIVE friends, you can give them complete control and they can do anything that you can while in the garden. Just make sure you have the voice chat option enabled so you can agree on what your friends should change!
However, the local co-op is more limited. It gives the second player unlimited access to tools and items but doesn't give them free license in the garden. The local co-op feels more suited to a parent-child play experience, which is fine for what it is, but I really wish there was a way for them to incorporate a full co-op experience locally. I realize the split-screen dynamic makes things a bit more challenging, but it's also unfortunate when friends or siblings have to argue about who gets to be the head gardener and who is relegated to having the number two spot.
One really good thing about the co-op modes is the new mini-games feature. When you are playing co-op, no matter weather it is online or local, you will be able to play little mini-games with your garden's piñata residents. These games are very simple and generally consist of some sort of race, but they are a great diversion from the gardening aspect of the game and make for some quick fun.