- Title: Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Rare
- ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
- Genre: Garden Sim
- Pros: Great graphics; very addictive; tons of stuff to do; surprisingly deep
- Cons: Not a big change from the original; Piñata Vision ruins the fun
For those new to Viva Piñata, it is all about building a lush garden in the hopes of attracting piñata animals. You can plant grass, dig ponds, and add other knickknacks and doodads in the hope of coaxing wild piñatas in to settle in your garden and become residents. You can then breed your piñatas to make more and try to become a master romancer for a particular species. Piñatas will fight each other or you can smack them with a shovel until they break and the candy spills out. Sound weird? It is, but it is completely addictive and fun. Check out our review of the original VP for all of the details.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise is more like an expansion pack to the original VP than a full new game. It features all of the piñata types from the first game along with 30+ brand new ones to play with. There are also two new environments you can travel to, a desert and the Arctic, to catch a handful of new piñatas and plants. Local co-op play returns, but you can also now visit other gardens via Xbox Live, which is weird and cool at the same time. Cool because you get to show off, but weird in that it feels very, very, very odd to have other people poking around your garden and messing with stuff.
There are a few tweaks in Trouble in Paradise, of course, that make the game a bit better. First up are the new challenges that task you with acquiring a specific piñata and then dressing it up in a specific way or turning it a different color before sending it off to a party. The challenges are nice because they give you a little more direction than the free-for-all that was the original game. Another change comes from the fact that you can access all of your piñatas, seeds, and fertilizer on the main game screen rather than having to go into the menus by pressing left on the d-pad and using the right bumper.
The biggest change comes in the cards that you can get off of the Internet and then scan into the game with the Xbox Live Vision camera. These cards give you items in the game or unlock piñatas and place them into your garden. The problem with this, however, is that using the cards completely ruins the fun of the game. If you can just scan a card to unlock the high level and hard to find piñatas, there is no motivation to actually play the game correctly and earn them the right way. If you want to get the true Viva Piñata experience, I highly recommend you do not use the cards.
Viva Piñata: TiP is just as gorgeous looking as the original game. The piñatas are extremely cute and cuddly looking and the animations for all of the stuff they do is very good. This game is fun to simply sit back and watch because the piñatas are so funny and cute. The garden is also very lush and vibrant and looks phenomenal. I’m not sure how much of an improvement, if any, the visuals here are over the original, the game still looks absolutely beautiful.
The sound is also very good in TiP. The piñatas all make distinct and unique sounds so you can tell what is in your garden just by sound. The music is also very good and well suited to the laid back and serene feel of the game. The helper “human” characters could have used a few dozen more lines of spoken dialogue since they repeat themselves a lot, but they aren’t too obnoxious.