Viva Piñata

Are Rare shit now? Kameo was alright, but didn’t really hold our attention as it should have. Well good news, Warwickshire-based developer fans, Viva Piñata is cute, bright, fun, addictive and full of ridiculous regional accents. Yes, it’s a proper Rare game. At last.

pinatabody.jpgThe only grumble in stylistic terms is that it isn’t particularly witty, and some of the characters around to help you are a bit patronising. Where by “a bit” we mean “insufferably”. But you know, it’s sort of a game for children. And children are stupid.

In any case, there’s more than enough pure, unadulterated joy in the game to make up for any insulting of your intelligence. It’s not a complicated game: just make your garden increasingly nice, and piñatas will come and take up residence. Niceness can be increased by growing plants, building houses for different species of piñata, digging ponds, tidying up, keeping nasty piñata away – and plenty more besides.

Satisfy a particular species of piñata, and they’ll reproduce – or “romance” as the game puts it – in a nice, safe, squelch-free way. This is one of the chief motivations to play, the other being attracting further varieties of piñata to your garden. It’s hugely satisfying to see a change made to your garden – adding a massive pond, turfing an area the size of Wales – translate into a new piñata coming to visit.

It’s the indirect control you have over what happens in your garden which makes the game so damned addictive. There’s always something happening which you’ll want to see the result of, or which will give you an idea of something else to try – and then you’ll want to see if that does anything. It’s experimentation at its best.

There are restrictions on how much you can fit in your garden at any one time, but you have to adjust your mind to this – it’s a garden after all, not a medium-sized town. You won’t be able to have all the piñata species you’ve seen at all times, so you have to make a decision about which to let go – or rather sell for a handsome sum. This can be an easy decision at times – some combinations of piñata will constantly fight, and some species seem unable to get on at all.

There are some genuine issues, particularly when it comes to moving things around. This irks particularly when your garden expands, and everything’s suddenly left slap bang in the middle of your patch. But hey, you’ll get over it.

To get the most out of the game, you have to just live with and love your garden. Spend time looking after it, but also simply enjoy the sight of squirrelly piñata scampering up trees, a doggy piñata quietly whimpering in his sleep, and butterfly-like piñata calmly fluttering around.

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