Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

The bad news is that Trouble in Paradise feels more like a special edition of the first Viva Piñata than a fully fledged sequel. The good news is that it’s still as addictive as ever, and the new refinements make for a better game. It’s a lot harder to unlock the achievements this time round too, but whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of back breaking labour – apart from the whole back breaking thing.

Fortunately the new online co-op mode is a good way to share the workload. Up to four budding gardeners can get their cursors muddy at once, and it’s possible to tinker with privileges to stop random skanks smashing stuff up. On the downside, it’s frustrating when visiting another person’s garden and all you can do is take photos through lack of trust. Playing with higher ranked gardeners than yourself is a fast way to boost your experience and see some of the harder to find piñatas, including the new arctic and desert types.

The much mooted desert and arctic environments are a bit of a swizz, as you can’t actually build anything in them. Instead the idea is to place traps to capture the creatures that randomly wander around. You can, however, coat your own garden with sand and snow, and plant palm trees, holly bushes and such to keep your Robeans, Pengums and Jelis happy. There are new sour piñatas to convert too including a scorpion and a skunk.

Rather than start off with a wasteland as per the first game, you start with a basic garden with a few piñatas, and although there is a tutorial, you can pretty much ignore it and crack on. Sadly there’s no way to import piñatas from the first game, but they’re all here to be rediscovered anyway.

So, what else is new? Well, as well as take photos – which get rated depending on how rare the piñatas in the picture are – you can scan in cards with the Xbox camera to unlock goodies. There are also two mini-games you can play with your critters: the first is a race viewed from a top-down perspective; the second is a dull non-interactive talent show. It’s doubtful that you’d want to play either more than once. Another annoyance is that the characters that run the shops and other services still have the same speech samples as before. Even the menus are near identical. That’s just lazy, Rare.

Regardless of retreading old ground, Trouble in Paradise is a game that rewards time, patience and experimentation. Plus you get to dress up your piñatas in Jet Force Gemini clobber. Ace!

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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