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Viva Pinata: Limited Edition (Xbox 360)

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14 Reviews

Genre: Simulation - Life / Published by Microsoft

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    14 Reviews
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      21.04.2010 16:53
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      Might be worth a play if you can find a cheap

      I bought Viva Piñata not long after buying the Xbox, however I picked it up about once and left it on the shelf for ages thinking 'this isn't for me'. Then earlier this year I decided to give it another go as it was pointless having a game that I wasn't playing in the house. This time I managed to give it a lot more time.

      Viva Piñata is set on Piñata Island where there a wild piñata who are looking for a garden to call their home. The idea of the game is fairly simple as you just need to attract piñata to your garden and increase the value of your garden. There is no real way of winning the game and is comparable to something like the Sims where you can just keep playing.

      At the beginning of the game you are given a barren plot of land to care for which you customise through covering it in grass, planting seeds, digging ponds and placing objects. What you do in your garden will determine what type of piñata you attract. For example some piñatas like lots of water and others certain types of plants or trees. You have to look after your garden through watering your plants and deciding what you want to do with the fruit and vegetables you grow. Selling them will help bring you chocolate cash you can spend on more plants or objects to make your garden more valuable, However, as you become richer in the game and have less time to focus on things like watering, you can hire help to do these things for you. At times when you have lots of plants that need watering and piñatas that need attention it can be quite tricky to look after them all.

      Piñatas go through stages before they will actually come to live in your garden. A black and white coloured piñata will firstly appear in the area around your garden, to get a piñata to appear you need to fulfil at least a couple of requirements, some of which can be fairly simple such as having lots of grass and a couple of plants and some which can be slightly harder. When piñatas appear they will walk around the edge of your garden until you fulfil the requirements that are needed for them to visit, again these requirements vary in difficulty, depending on the piñata. When the piñatas visit they again have requirements before they will actually live in your garden, though these generally tend to mean that they need to eat some fruit or something similar thats in your garden. After all that, the piñata will come to live in your garden and changes from black and white to a multi coloured piñata.

      The piñatas themselves have cute names based around sweets such as Bunnycomb, Cocoadile and Bonboon. You can attract over sixty different types in to your garden, each of which you can buy different accessories for such as hats, glasses and jewellery. You look after the piñatas that live in your garden and try to keep them happy. However, there are evil piñata and other characters that will visit your garden and try and make your piñata unhappy or ill. making the gameplay slightly more challenging.

      I'm not sure how much I would recommend this for younger children though. Although the controls are really easy to use, and the game is brightly coloured there are aspects of the game which did make me wonder if I would let a child play. For example, throughout the game you need to 'romance' your piñatas to make baby piñatas, piñatas become ill and die, with a fairly scary looking character who comes to kill them by breaking them open and there's a shop owner who comes out with dodgy comments, for example she sells seeds and when you enter her shop she will sometimes say something like, 'fancy something seedy?...I don't mean it like that....'

      The entertainment value of this game didn't last for too long with me, considering in theory you can play this forever, I was bored in a few hours. The idea is a good one, which I'm sure would appeal to children but just didn't work for me. The graphics are really good which is nice as considering it is a game aimed more towards children they could have easily scrimped on this bit but luckily they haven't and the game is very pleasing to the eye. This is also aided by the fact the game is really colourful.

      I did end up playing it for along time as I wanted to achieve all the fifty achievements that are available for the game. For those of you without an Xbox, completing these achievements will give you experience points (xp). Annoyingly however, all of these, bar about ten, are secret achievements, I think they have done this to keep you interested in the game for longer. I just found it frustrating so I did end up cheating slightly and looking online to find out what I needed to do. As it stands Viva Piñata is the only game that I have managed to complete all of the achievements for, even if it was with a little help (and that is one more than my other half so yay for me!).

      I found the special edition of the game to be not very special. You get an interesting box, which is actually fairly annoying as I put my Xbox games on a DVD rack and it doesn't fit on it. The game comes with an extra disc which just contains a few demos of other games and an episode of the viva piñata TV show.

      You can buy Viva Piñata for around £15.00. I don't know how much I would recommend it, as I generally enjoy games such as the Sims but this was perhaps just too simple. I guess if you could find it cheap then give it a go, but definitely don't hold out for the special edition as it's really not worth it.

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        30.12.2009 19:49
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        4/5

        When I first purchased the Viva Pinata Limited Edition game I took a lot of stick of my friends, but I enjoyed playing the game as it was quite surprisingly a good game.

        The aim of the game is for the user to create a world where pinatas live in your garden and you help them grow up. There are over 60 different pinata species that can visit your own personalised garden and make it their very own home.

        The game is aimed mainly at kids but it's suited for people of all ages and gender as it is a very unique game and quite tricky to master. There are many challenges throughout the game which provide hours of fun and difficult levels can really test you skills.

        If you build a nice successful garden for your pinatas, you will enjoy watching the different types of pinata visit and live there. You can even name your pinata and get them to mate with the pinata of their own species.

        The limited edition casing is brilliant and brings the game to live, and is well worth the little extra cash.

        I would recommend this game to anyone of any age because it's a brilliant invention whether you play it alone or across Xbox Live, I'm sure you will have loads of fun. I would give this game a 4/5.

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        28.04.2009 20:55
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        A fun game despite being aimed at a young audience, mostly.

        Viva Piñata is a game for the Xbox 360, which despite its child like appearance and silly concept in fact caters for a wide audience, something which I experience first-hand. At first I didn't think I would enjoy a game based around raising paper animals, however the concept quickly became fun to play with and addictive.

        The gameplay is all based in your garden, which from Day 1 you have the ability to change and apart in as many ways as possible, starting from the crude beginnings of seeding some grass and planting a few plants to make the place look nicer and more welcoming to prospective piñatas that you want to live in your garden. You cannot control the piñatas that live in your garden expect for directing them to prospective mates and guiding them around a "love maze" (the family friendly alternative to the animals having sex). The game is sweet and can easily be played by young children simply for enjoyment and looking at the pretty animals etc. However there is a logic to the game, as well as a peculiar addiction that comes with wanting to collect as many animals as possible, which allows adults to play the game and enjoy it too, this is beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the most family friendly games that is available on the Xbox 360 at the moment.

        The graphics of the game are cartoon-like yet they are very attractive to look at as they make a nice break from the regular dreary war-torn landscapes that are usually featured on the most popular games around such as Gears of War or Call of Duty. Everything, as you may have guessed from the name, is made out of paper which allows the graphics to be very abstract and lively. All of the creatures that can come into your garden are all cleverly designed and fun to look at, which increases the collectability of them a great deal. Each piñata and character has their own unique style of moving and interacting with the environment which personally I think is an excellent choice as it encourages you to have as many objects in the garden as possible whilst also going for the prettiest design you can, simply in order to make yourself feel good.

        The sounds of the game are all as you would expect, the music is light-hearted and reflects the optimistic and colourful texture of the game and all the piñatas have their own unique noises which they make. There are also sound effects for things which you do around the garden such as watering plants and patting down earth with the spade and whilst this doesn't seem like a big deal it adds to the texture of the game and gives it a very professional finish which is very fulfilling for the player.

        This game is certainly one of the most original games that I have played in a long time and it is therefore my recommendation that you at least rent it, at the very least because of the easy achievement points which are featured.

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          09.01.2009 13:56
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          A good game, lots of fun for kids and adults

          There are sooo many platform games out for the XBox at the moment, full of bright cartoons, and boring gameplay where you run along and 'collect things'. Basically, if you're not into the first person shooters, this is usually what you'e faced with.

          When I saw Viva Pintata on the shelf, this was my first conclusion - another typical platform game. The packaging, the bright colours and the cartoon pony on the front all screamed 'kiddies platform game' - how wrong I was!

          Not being a FPS fan myself, I decided to buy it, give it a go, and very probably trade it in again the next week. However, once you get that first Pinata, the whole thing becomes strangely addictive!

          This is not your typical platform game, nor is it set out as such. In basic gameplay, you have control over your 'garden'. You dig it, cover it in grass, grow flowers in it, basically look after it, and attract wild Pinatas to come and eventually live in it. You are helped along the way by a variety of friends, including Seedos, a strange little man, who gives you new seeds to grow and attract Pinata, and Costalot, who owns a shop to sell you basically anything you need - at a price!

          As with all games, you need a 'baddie', and in Viva Pinata, he comes in the shape of Profesor Pester and his gang of Ruffians, who are intent on smashing yur Pinatas open and stealing the sweets from inside!

          The longer you play the game, the bigger your garden gets, and the more items and Pinata species you unlock. By unlocking new things, you move up a level and gain titles.

          The best parts of the game are finding the new Pinatas, and the fun names they have for them - a mix of animal and food! For example, the horse on the front cover of this edition is a 'Horstachio'!

          This special edition is different as it comes in a special collectors tin, and has some extra bonus demos included.

          Overall, not the most difficult games you're going to play, but good fun, perfect for kids and adults, and very very addictive! Before you know it, you'll be calling real animals by their Pinata names!

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          14.11.2008 14:13
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          Thanks for Reading

          Aimed at children?

          What sort of children's game allows you to go around with a shovel and beat up small creatures until they explode into a pile of candy goodness? Well this one does, but that's the joy of Viva Piñata, it may have a very colorful look and bright vibrant environments but it is not aimed solely at young children as me and many other adults have discovered.

          -----The Story-----

          The game is set on the beautiful Piñata Island, where every Piñata is a living breathing creature simply looking for a place to call home. And it is your job to create the perfect environment for them to live in. There are over 60 incredibly cheerful Piñatas to get into your garden and it can be a very difficult task to make a garden that can sustain them all, not only this but you will have the constant threat of evil piñatas that come and eat yours, but with the right combination of items and a bit of persistence, you can convert even the most evil creatures in to a loving one that will stay in your world forever.

          -----The Characters-----

          *Leafos
          This will be your guide on Pinata Island and she will always be there to give a helping hand and give you vital information on how to sustain your garden

          *Storkos
          This rather dumpy woman will fly in the garden when ever you've successfully gotten two creatures to "make love" and drop an egg which will eventually hatch.

          *Seedos
          This rather annoying man will be constantly going on about seeds and will give you the occasional one for free, but if you can't be bothered to wait you can always hit him with a shovel.

          *Dastardos
          This reaper of Pinatas will attempt to fool you into thinking he can heal your creatures, if you see him come along, hit him with the shovel.

          -----In game-----

          There is a lot available to do on the island but can take a while to unlock, you start out with a complete mess of a garden and your first task is too sort it out and make it livable. By getting Pinatas into your garden you will gain experience and eventually level up which will unlock new features in the game such as shops and items available for sale. Leveling up even more will expand your garden beyond its original size and allow you to sustain more Pinatas.

          Once you reach about level 20 though the game becomes very overwhelming with loads of different Pinatas available to unlock and so many features available, you can often find yourself completely destroying the garden and starting from scratch because you simply haven't organized it well enough from the start which can get very annoying.

          -----My Opinion-----

          It's a really fun game to play and can offer very good stress relief when you've come home from a really hard day at work/school and the bright colours of the game do make you smile while you play, so I would definitely recommend this game to people to get even if its not that amazing when you look back at it.

          3 Stars

          For the cheapest price visit http:www.shopto.net

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            13.09.2008 02:56
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            Its More Addictive Then Crack lol

            Viva Pinata thats all i need to say about this game its sells itself, well its a full on kids game and based on the cartoon (dont know what channel), anyway back to this amazing game, you start of with a garden that is well only way to describe really is a mess, weeds all over the place over grown grass, rocks you get the picture and you have to clean it with your shovel and replant some grass to make the garden look nice, at this point you might me thinking well this game sounds utter crap well after the full five minutes it takes you to prepare your garden the FUN THEN BEGINS, you get a few basic pinatas coming to your garden to live there and you can LOADS OF STUFF WITH THEM

            1 - Dress Them - with cool hats, shades, badges etc

            2 - Build Houses - you need to build houses for them so you can breed them and get more rare pinata's in your garden

            3 - Feed Them - you know to keep them alive

            4 - Evolve them - for eg set them on fire then put out with the fire with a watering can and then watch them evolve (doesnt work on every pinata)

            5 - Call the Doctor To Heal Them - so you call the doctor he heals them however if you leave it and let it stay sick some weird little man will run in to your garden and kill it (an this is meant to be a kids game??)

            6 - Fight - you can make your pinatas fight each other ... now its starting to come to the point of HOW DID THIS GAME GET A U Certificate

            7 - Leveling Up - when you level up you unlock new things a the shops or get new items given to you or upgrades of your current tools or you can even get your garden bigger :)

            8 - Shopping - buy pinata's, trees, fruits, sweets, clothes :) etc

            9- Well i cant think of a sub-title for this so il explaine :) this is my favorite thing about this game and its quite wrong i think i might need help, you can beat your own pinata's to death with your shovel YES THATS RIGHT just give your pinata a few smacks round the head and it will drop to the floor start shaking then when its down hit it again and BANG!!! wacth it explode and candy will scatter over the garden and the other pinata's will eat them... now if you ask me thats canableism so once again HOW IS THIS GAME ONLY RATED A U.

            The best thing about this game is you turn it on have a quick five minute spin on it and come off happy untill you check the time .. that "Quick Five Minute Spin" has some how and only god knows wasnt five minutes at all but more like THREE HOURS, you have so much fun on this game time really does fly an if your feeling evil so can you pinata's remains after a brutal beating lol.

            You have to thinking about buying this cause you can kill some animals and feel nothing at all as sick as that sounds its true, but it can also work agaist you cause i got that horse on the cover of the box in my garden (and it took me a few hours to do it) i was so happy until that evil little man ran in to my garden for no reason what so ever and eat my poor Horstachio .. the amount of swear words that came out of my mouth was unbelievable.. but im 19 and getting a little upset when my pinata was eaten was sad il admit it.

            if your 4 or 104 i will tell you now BUY THIS GAME it is the best £9 you can ever spend and you can even swap items with your friends online thats how cool this game is and if you dont like it you just might be normal but il give you and hour alone with this game and you will be loving it.

            ITS A KIDS GAME GONE WRONG

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              05.05.2008 16:38
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              Don't buy it unless you really want something different

              Viva Pinata... What can I say? Well to be honest I like this game as a relaxation game when I just want to sit down and go hey! Look at that cool looking pinata! For me I loved this game! For the first three hours of playing it. Then I really could not see the point in really continuing with the game as there were no real bonuses to gain from getting to the end except from aquiring several pretty cool pinatas. But to be honest with games such as GTA IV, Halo 3 and Mass Effect out I do not see why you would purchase this game. Me myself I got it with the xbox 360 in the bundle, and it was good until I got things like Gears of War. Since Gears of War this game has just been gathering dust on my little shelf.

              THE CASE

              I do like the case and it always manages to give me a smile as I look at it because of all the colours you can see on it.

              THE GRAPHICS
              The graphics in my opinion are pretty top notch and vibrant and colourful. Its always nice to look at your pinata society growing and mingling with eachother pleasen... HEY Leave that mouse pinata alone! Yes as I was saying pleasently.

              THE GAMEPLAY

              Fun for the first few hours then you get bored real fast. There's just not enough there to keep me entertained for long, and no REAL bonuses to getting further.

              MUST BUY OR MUST NOT BUY

              Really I would advise passing on this game and spending your money on GTA IV or Halo 3 both excellent games and well worth the money.

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                26.10.2007 12:55
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                I Think This Game Is Good Fun While It Lasts But Good Be Better And Have A More In Depth Story

                Viva Pinata (Limited Edition) Xbox 360

                Viva Pinata Is Overall Quite A Good Game As Long As You Dont Over Play It , My Neice Had The Game For 4 Days Before She Became Fed Up Of The Game And Decided To Trade It In; However That Does Not Mean That The Game Was Over In That Time As There Is So Much To Do And Lots Of Species O Pinata To Collect.

                Controls
                I Think The Controls Are Slightly Confusing However It Depends On What The Player Feels Comfortable With, I Mysely Thought There Were To Many Menus Inside Menus To Be Understandable.

                Garden Personalities
                There Are Many "People" Who You Will See In The Garden. Some Are Helpful Overs Simply Funny And Certain People Are Just So Annoying Its Unbelievable They Even But Them In The Game.

                Acheivments
                This Game Is One Of The Easiest I Know To Gain Acheivments From As You Can Recieve Them For Simple Things Like Naming A Pinata And Collecting 5 Pinata Species.

                Pinatas
                No Matter How Much You Dont Like The Game You Cant Help But Laugh At These Furry Little Inventions An Animal Mixed With A Sweet Or Toffee Becomes There Name Such As Fudge + Hedgehog = Fudgehog (Not The Most Imaginative One I Know)

                Saving
                The Games Are Easily Saveable Whenever You Want And Arent Checkpoint Saves Like Other Games

                Tools
                The Main Tools Are :
                The Journal
                This Is Given To You By Leafos And Is Coinstantly Updated With New Details As You Make Progress And Discoveries.
                Shovel
                At First You'll Use This To Remove Junk But Later On In The Game It Comes In Handy A Lot More Than You Would Expect.
                Watering Can
                An Essential Tool Without This Your Plants Will Die

                Housing
                After You Have Succesfully Acuired A Pinata It Is A Good Idea To Buy Housing For Them So That You Can Romance And Master Romance That Species Of Pinata.
                All Housing Is Available From The Builders Yard In The Village.
                Other Builings Are Also Available In The Game Such As A Milking Shed And So On.

                Village Shops
                General Store
                The Place To Buy Non Specialist Items.
                Pet Shop
                Pinata Accesories And Pets Are Available To Buy From Here And Some Have Interesting Side Effects.
                Post Office Send And Recieve Goodies In Crates To Other People Via Xbox Live.
                Ivor Bargain
                After Turning The Beggar Into A Store Owner You Can Buy Important Things From Here Such As A Sword To Stop Proffesor Pester Entering Your Garden.
                Builders Yard
                To Fulfill All Your Housing Needs

                Helpers
                Sprinkling:Waters Plants
                Weedling: Deals With Unwanted Plants And Weeds
                Watchling Specialises In Driving Out Pests
                Gatherling:Collects Any Fruit Veg Or Other Produce And Sells Them For Your Profit
                Diggerling:Works In The Mine

                Sour Pinatas
                These Evil Fiendsa Can Be Turned Into Good Pinatas And Can Upgrade Your Tower Of Sour By Doing So.

                Family Mode
                People Can Play In The Same Garden At The Same Time.

                Overall This Game Is Quite Good And The Colours Are Very Bright And Entising.

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                  31.08.2007 00:34
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                  Nice case - no game

                  Oh dear....I had high hopes for this. It chucked itself off the shelf towards me with its bright colours and optimistic reviews on the usual sites.
                  My lad almost dragged me home by the scruff of the neck to get this on.
                  Sadly, it is just a bit tedious. He lost interest in under an hour. Its a garden....... see the doctor and get help for sick things.. oh ..... sorry... Its probably really good once you get into it but its just so zzzz.
                  I'm really sorry if this offends those that found this game enjoyable. I know there are a lot of adults that posted rave reviews, but sorry, this is aimed at kids and it just missed by a long way!

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                    18.06.2007 03:11
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                    Anyone that loves to be creative this is the one for you

                    Viva Piñata for the Xbox 360 is a one of a kind game which is so addictive. The aim of the game is to have the best patch of land in the world which will attract creatures called piñatas. The game company Rare Ltd gave this game an "everyone" rating, the game provides bright, colorful visuals, intended to appeal to children and adults alike. I must admit I bought this game and my family laugh at me because they were ignorant to just how fun this game is. Now they all play it as well which just proves how fun this game really is.

                    So you have just bought the game you put it into your Xbox 360 and start the game there is an easy tutorial that is quick and simple to get you used to the controls. The tutorial teaches you how to tidy up your first plot of land that is given to you. It is full of pieces of junk and all the soil is dried up and nasty so your first objective is to destroy the junk and flatten the soil. Then you will meet your first piñata called a Whirlm which is a very small worm in simple terms.

                    In Viva Piñata your best friend is a spade because this is your main way of interacting with your garden. You can bash things with your spade to make them disappear like when you have junk in your garden. The spade also allows you to dig holes so you can grow plants better, chop the grass because some piñatas prefer short grass, dig ponds because some piñatas like the Quackberry which basically is a duck wont wander into your garden without water and finally you can hit evil piñatas when they decide to take a walk through your plot of land causing death and destruction in there path.

                    Along your journey you will make friends with other people in the game as the story goes on and they will help you out. When starting out you will want to talk to a man called Seedo what will wander into your garden once a day in game time and each time you talk to him he will throw random seeds around your garden which you can plant and grow using the watering can tool.

                    All 68 of the piñatas in the game each have their unique requirements that first will make them appear in your garden then you have to fulfil another set to make them become residents. They key is to get 2 piñatas of the same type and then make them breed into more for either to fulfil the rewards or to sell them off for money which you can spend in the shops that become available over time where you can buy seeds, houses, decorations, food and even sweets that make your piñatas want to mate with each other without filling a requirement list again.

                    When building your garden to attract a specific type of piñata you must beware of the circle of life. Piñatas may find other piñatas in your garden tasty and will eat them rough your garden because I have lost many piñatas when trying to make a new one a resident because most of the time it has to eat an existing piñata before joining. By using the power of the Xbox live you can sell your rare items or piñatas online to other players around the world in a almost global market. You can invite your friends into your garden to show off how creative you are or to give them advice on how to gain a rare piñata then send the required piñatas and items to them for free using the mail feature.

                    To sum up this game it is an amazingly fun game with such a simple concept that takes full advantage of the power of the Xbox 360. Remember this is not just a game for children but for adults as well and will give you hours of fun. My only criticisms is that you will hit a point when you have the best tools and all the shops but you just haven’t got a clue how to get the other 20 or so piñatas and this does become frustrating at times when you change almost all your garden and you still get the same piñatas turning up. So many people invest in the strategy guide as well to help you complete the game if that’s what you want to achieve from the game. I think a well done to Rare Ltd for creating such a fun and addictive game with I believe a message to its users that encourages the kids and adults of today to get out and design there own garden and to look after the land and creatures we have today.

                    Thank-you for reading this review, please post your comments on how to improve this review as I am still a beginner.

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                      13.06.2007 16:16
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                      Good buy

                      Originally I bought his game for my sister who is aged 13 but i have found myself addicted to it and i'm not ashamed to admit it! Rare have created a game that is extremely original, as it encompasses aspects of farming, gardening, collecting and secret solving. It all makes for a surprisingly entertaining affair - I had my doubts when i first saw it.

                      Despite the young looks and charm there is a solid and very playable game underneath that will appeal to all sorts of people. Collecting new types of pinata never gets boring, and there are almost 100 in total. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the small Whirlms to the large Elephanilla. Each pinata has different preferences and utilising those to attract them into your garden is an important part of the game. There are also nasty sour pinatas that deserve a good whack of your shovel, as they cause no ends of mischief!

                      The longetivity is a strong part of this game. In some ways it is never ending, but it will take even the most experienced of gamers a fair while to achieve everything. There are literally dozens of secrets to unlock, so experimenting with different plants, fertilisers, seeds and pinatas is well advised if you want to progress.

                      The graphics, especially the water effects, are stunning and they have a cartoony feel that really impresses me. The garden/farm can really be customised exactly how you like it, with plenty of plants and objects to choose from.

                      The best aspect of the game for me is the origniality. Never before has a game like this benn created, and with all the 'realistic' games out there on the market - this makes for a refreshing option.

                      The only downside is that there are only two expansions for garden size, and sometimes you feel that isn't enough. This limits the amount you can put into your garden, so you feel constrained. Also it's sometimes difficult to know what to do next and can be challenging to get any more experience to advance a level.

                      I must also admit that the multiplayer is possibly the worst i have ever seen, although trading things with people on Xbox live is useful. Don't buy the game if you're expecting a brilliant multiplayer experience...

                      Overall, i would definately recommend this game for anyone who enjoys games with a bit of inginuity and this is full of fun and thrills.

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                        07.05.2007 20:56
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                        Great for persistent tweenagers who appreciate colourful graphics and a sense of good fun.

                        INTRODUCTION

                        What happens when you take two spoonfuls of ‘Pokemon’, stir in a handful of ‘Harvest Moon’, a dash of ‘Animal Crossing’ and blend together under the watchful hands of gaming wunderkinds ‘Rare’? Why, that’s right, it’s the ultra-stylised, cartoon vision that is ‘Viva Piñata’ for the Xbox 360!

                        A clever mish-mash of ideas, ‘Viva Piñata’ puts you in the role of gardener; your mission is to tend the land and breed an assortment of brightly-coloured stuffed animals, namely Piñatas – the ultimate candy filled, stick-thwacking, children’s party favourite.

                        After you’re dropped into this day-glo, Piñata-filled world, you’re given a small patch of overgrown, rundown land that you must carefully tend, turning it into a luscious workable landscape filled with cute critters.

                        Needless to day, this seemingly simple task is far more deceptively difficult than it sounds. You’ll need to protect your Piñatas from the perils and predators that lurk in every corner, not to mention the in-fighting between certain breeds, occasional outbreaks of illness and the difficulty in acquiring enough chocolate coins to buy the seeds, breeding houses and other accessories vital to the garden’s continued survival.

                        GARDEN MANAGEMENT

                        Roughly half the time, you’ll be tending to the physical landscape of your garden. You are expected to keep things clean and ship-shape for your collection of Piñatas. Each variety has their own special needs that you’ll need to tend to; some Piñatas will only appear after you’ve planted specific seeds, others are attracted to certain resident Piñata, whilst many will only start to graze once you’ve demonstrated your gardening ability to a suitable level.

                        In order to keep the land tame, you’ll need to use the selection of implements in your inventory. The spade allows you to flatten land, dig ponds, thwack trees and see off the evil ‘sour’ Piñatas that’ll poison your livestock. This item gets continually upgraded the better you become, as does the watering can which is necessary to ensure the speedy growth and continued existence of your crops.

                        This maintenance process isn’t overly difficult, and relies on the tried and tested formula outlaid by various management simulators over the years. Initially it can be quite a lot of fun, but after a dozen hours or so, this becomes awe-inspiringly dull, and with limited camera options on offer, trying to arrange things neatly can be a painfully slow practice.

                        Thankfully, the sense of achievement is boosted with colourfully animated ‘Achievement Unlocked’ sequences and regular upgrades and expansions to your equipment and land plot. This’ll keep you hooked during the wearisome ‘plant/harvest/sell’ cycles you’ll no-doubt get sucked into.

                        BREEDING

                        The remainder of your time will be dedicated to the process of breeding Piñatas. This happens over a number of stages. Firstly, you’ll need to attract a couple of wild Piñatas to your garden. If they find everything to their liking they’ll take up residence and stay within the confines of the property border. Secondly, you’ll need to fulfil the breeding criteria. This inevitably requires you to buy and build a special breeding hut, as well as tending to nutritional needs, which may include vegetables, produce, seeds or even eating another variety of Piñata!
                        Once the heart indicator lights up on two piñatas of the same species, you’re ready to begin the mating dance; this takes the form of a mini-game where you must guide one piñata through a dangerous maze to the other within a strict time limit. If that goes well, your piñatas will romance each other, producing an egg that will quickly transform into a baby piñata.

                        If that all sounds a bit convoluted to you, that’s because it is; what could have been a quick, simple system is diluted to a frighteningly stringent set of fulfilment tasks. It’s seriously frustrating trying to get piñatas together, just to blow the whole thing with a simple mis-tap of the controller during the crude mini-game. Considering ‘Viva Piñata’ is aimed at a younger audience, the whole procedure is surprisingly unrewarding for the vast majority of the time.

                        GRAPHICS
                        ‘Viva Piñata’ oozes beauty from every pore. If you needed a demonstration to highlight the benefits of high definition gaming, you’d want to reach for this disc every time. Oranges, yellows and greens bloom with tone and texture; reds are hot and spicy, and even the blues feel warm and shiny. In fact, during the nights, everything seems a little extra dark as the heliographic glow subsides.

                        Character models look superb. The detailed bitmaps are the very embodiment of anthropomorphised personality; over-emphasised features ensure that their real-world counterparts are easily identifiable through the colourful haze, be they squiggly worms or papery hedgehogs.

                        All in all, it’s a veritable feast of rainbow eye-candy. Only those who are steadfastly addicted to the doom and gloom of first-person shooters will not be able to appreciate at least some element of this hyperactive environment.

                        SOUND

                        Music is kept basic and clean, verging on the generic and non-descript. Much in the same way that titles like ‘The Sims’ attempted to keep the audio palate neutral, ‘Viva Piñata’ is nothing short of pleasantly middle-of-the-road for the vast majority of the time. Still, as I so often mention in my Xbox 360 reviews, you’re more likely to be listening to your own music than waiting to reach the stages of boredom with the in-game ditties.

                        The sound effects are a wonderful mix of ‘cutesy yelping’ for the piñatas and ‘synthetic discord’ for the ‘sours’; this keeps things lively, simple but effective. Everything is crisp and clean and, as Rare is from our own fair shores, all the voice-overs have a pleasing English twang.

                        GAMEPLAY MECHANICS

                        Rare have done a stunning job as per usual. The piñata A.I. is spot on! For example, the duck-like ‘Quackberries’ are flighty and skittish, flying off whenever an encounter with another animal looks likely, whilst the foxy ‘Pretztails’ scoot around aimlessly in the dirt during the wee-small hours and proceed to sleep throughout the day.

                        The game is amazingly deep; just when you think things can’t get any weirder, another object becomes available at the store for you to try out. A vast array of sweets, decorative items and plant-life keep things interesting and diverse.
                        Similarly, even when you’re only trying to attract one creature, you very often find that you slip into attracting several others, taking you off on a whole different tangent. Believe me when I say that no two gardens are ever going to be the same!

                        Online play is limited to trading species and coins between friends. Whilst initially it may seem quite restricted, it actually makes an ideal introduction to online co-operative play for younger people, taking away the aggressive matchmaking element and levelling the playing field for players regardless of age.

                        Overall, the game is one that’s been tweaked and tuned to perfection, with very little to complain about in terms of gameplay mechanics.

                        The only real foibles I have are regarding the menu system and pacing. Firstly, the menus are overly complex for such a simple play system; straightforward commands are buried under a sea of key presses. For example, selling an item involves highlighting the object, pressing ‘B’, reselecting with the ‘A’ button, going to the checkout with ‘Y’ and then finally confirming again with the ‘A’ button; surely a simple ‘select and accept’ two-press system would have made things simpler?
                        Secondly, the pacing is far too sluggish for the target audience. Children need constant reassurance, motivation and a general sense of achievement to keep playing; these elements are dealt out in an irregular fashion, often offsetting accomplishments with a barrage of new, difficult to deal-with, ‘sours’.

                        OVERALL

                        ‘Viva Piñata’ hasn’t been the overriding success that Microsoft and Rare had hoped for, but unfortunately it’s all too obvious to see why: Adults, as a rule, don’t enjoy playing kids games and vice-versa; sure, every good parent plays with their children’s toys once in a while, but you hardly make it your weekend mission to partake in ‘hide ‘n’ seek’ or ‘invisible tea parties’.

                        ‘Viva Piñata’ is far too garish and patronising for adults to enjoy on anything other than a superficial level; very little lies beneath the surface either in terms of tactics or emotional depth, providing a fairly hollow experience.
                        Conversely, children and younger players will have problems enduring the problematic pacing arc and become too easily distracted by all the goings-on and special needs for piñatas entering the garden, to progress far enough into the game for the big rewards.

                        It’s a valiant attempt that unfortunately only appeals directly to a finely tuned target audience that is more likely to own, or be buying, a Nintendo Wii console. I’m afraid that it’s a harsh but fair three from me – it’s certainly worth checking out, but it’s simply a case of there being better, more suitable material available elsewhere.

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                          13.04.2007 15:19
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                          Unique and fun, just what the doctor ordered!

                          I am not ashamed to admit that Kameo is my favourite Xbox 360 game, I believe that it showed of the capabilities of the Xbox 360 right from the start and it still is in my opinion a very beautiful game, so you can imagine how eager I was then to get my hands on Rare's latest wonder that is Viva Piñata and while it isn't quite what I was expecting, I was certainly surprised with what I saw.

                          To explain this game to people who don't know, basically you are given a patch of land which you must make into a garden which is unique and colourful enough to attract the wild roaming piñatas and make them become residents, as your garden improves and you attract more piñatas, you will then be awarded with different upgrades which enable you to improve your garden even more.

                          The upgrades that you will receive include improvements to your shovel which lets you enable you to make ponds, cut down trees and bash evil piñatas on the head, being able to do these things comes in very handy and will help you attract all sorts of different piñatas to your garden.

                          Now this may all sound a bit strange, it's not very often after all that you get a game on a next generation console that is basically based on gardening, but this is so addictive and rewarding, for example when you build a pond and a visiting Quackberry (piñata duck) comes by and then decides to stay you will be so chuffed with yourself or when your garden improves so much that you are awarded more space, it just feels great.

                          At the beginning of the game you are given a shovel (as mentioned above), a bottomless pack of grass seeds and a watering can, the first task is then to clear your newly acquired patch of land of all the junk lying around, you do this by bashing it with your shovel, you then need to turn the hard soil soft, again your shovel comes in handy for doing this, once this is done you will attract your first Whirlm, this is basically a piñata which isn't really too fussy and only requires so soft soil as a requirement to live on your land.

                          A person you may want to come acquainted with next is Seedo, he will occasionally wander into your garden and when you speak to him he will throw down some seeds, you can then plant these, give them a water and see the flowers or in some cases fruit start to grow, this in turn will help attract other types of piñata to your garden, although most of them have specific requirements that need to be fulfilled before they will become residents.

                          Another thing that you need to be aware of in the game is the circle of life, certain piñatas make a nice lunch for their fellow residents and therefore it is essential that you make baby piñatas by fulfilling the requirements needed before the piñatas are in the mood for making love. The process of mating is fairly simple and is in the form of a mini game in which if you are successful will result in your Piñatas doing a sort of love making dance and soon after that a egg will be delivered. Piñatas will also become ill so you must make sure that if this happens you call the doctor straight away as otherwise your piñata's will be split open and eaten by the sour (evil piñata) that lurk about at the edge of your garden.

                          As you get better at the game you will start to unlock the islands shopkeepers and businesses, this will enable you to buy items such as seeds, accessories for your piñata, helpers as well as being able to build homes for your resident piñatas and an added bonus you are also able to use Xbox Live to send your friends crates full of absolutely anything you like bad or good via the post office.

                          Of course to improve your garden you will need money and thankfully you can sell anything in your garden, the best way to make money though is to keep breeding your piñatas and then sell them off, the more you do this, the better your garden will become which enables you to acquire more space and therefore more piñatas.

                          Viva Piñata is a game which is rich in colour and gameplay, it may not appeal to everyone but I would recommend it highly, it is equally playable by adults and children and anyone with a family may find themselves arguing over the Xbox 360 controller, thankfully you can each have your own garden though so it's just a case of sharing your Xbox 360, so while this game is unusual, if you want to play something fun and different it is essential.




                          Disclaimer: I am the user Wotta at Wonderwallweb.com so this review has also been uploaded there. Just to prevent any confusion.

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                            12.04.2007 12:18
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                            A great family game that any 360 owner with young children should snap up

                            There is more to the computer game industry than just games. Companies have found that by creating great characters and a world for them they can make money in other areas such as TV shows, films and toys. This has proven to be the case with Nintendo and their ‘Pokemon’ range. Originally a game, this concept has gone on to become one of the most profitable franchises in gaming history with loads of games, a top grossing film and a much loved cartoon series. Not only has ‘Pokemon’ given Nintendo vast profits, it has also enabled them access to the very lucrative family market. Microsoft and their 360 have found this market difficult to tackle as they are seen as producers of adult and violent games. Could the parallel release of a game and CGI cartoon show based on piñatas break them in?

                            Gameplay

                            ‘Viva Piñata’ plays as a basic resource simulation game that has surprising depth. At the start of the game you are given a small plot of land which you must cultivate to attract the various forms of piñata available. Depending on how you develop the garden will attract different types of animal e.g. more water for ducks or soil for worms. By attracting piñatas into your garden you will develop experience points. These points lead to levelling up and better equipment and a larger gaming area. By cleverly using the limited space you own and attracting the right animals you will begin to attract others e.g. foxes like chickens! There are hundreds of ways to develop you garden and plenty of animals to try and make happy.

                            There are a number of stumbling blocks along the way which prevent the game being a breeze. Nasty piñatas drop by and try and poison your animals making them ill, and if not treated, die. Also some of your own Piñatas may fight amongst each other as they are natural enemies. It is a delicately balanced ecosystem that will see you succeed and become a master gardener.

                            Along the way the game has several characters that will aid you in your quest. Various shop keepers are on hand to sell you flowers, seeds, new piñatas and even build you new homes for your animals. You are also able to hire workers that will take over some of the more mundane tasks that must be completed in a garden e.g. weeders, collectors, scarers. By paying these people a little each day they save time for you to concentrate on the important things – breeding!

                            The main aim of the game is to try and breed as many piñatas as you can. This is not as straight forward as you would imagine as each piñata needs certain criteria to get in the mood. They must have the correct food and shelter and as more fussy animals arrive you may even have to buy them a hat or an award! All the details you need to achieve a piñata family are held in the in game encyclopaedia that will soon become any ‘Viva Piñata’ player’s bible.

                            The gameplay has surprising depth as there are so many animals that need so many different things to survive, thrive and breed. The settings can be adjusted to allow beginners to play the game, but I still think that for a game created for children it is too hard. I am a veteran of games and have liked resource management games since ‘Megalomaniacs’, however, even I found the wealth of options on offer here a little terrifying at first. By making this game so complex Rare have created some great gameplay for adults but ignored their core market. (4 out of 5)
                            Characters/Story

                            There is no character or story as such as you play as a ‘the gardener’ who must set out to become the best in the business. However, the piñatas and characters that you interact with give the entire game an ambience that is pure joy. The entire game is colourful and the characters are happy to help you in any way they can. You will often have little dialogue boxes popping up with your friends asking for help or offering you tips. The idea that you are building a garden so that piñata can grow and breed to be used in parties is a great concept.

                            The piñatas and their individual characteristics are developed in the ‘Viva Piñata’ TV show. You get a free episode with the special edition of the game and other episodes can be downloaded from Live. I think that the show is pretty fun and well made. It helps you invest interest in some of the creatures that come to visit your garden. (4 out of 5)

                            Longevity

                            The longevity of this game is based entirely on the boredom factor of the gamer. With around 90 piñata to see and breed you can spend literally hundreds of hours seeing the entire game. However, after you have bred 20/30 piñata and you have built plenty of things the game does become a bit samey. For a younger, but good, gamer this may not happen as the game may capture their imagination indefinitely. However, for an older jaded gamer like me, I found the game fun for a good 10 or so hours then it grew tiresome.

                            As a 360 only title the games longevity is given a little boost by the introduction of good achievements. There are 50 in total all worth an additional 20 points to your gamers card. They range from the simple to some hidden and mischievous ones. Even if you decide to look up the secret achievements on the internet they will still take you some time to complete. An excellent use of the achievement system. (4 out of 5)

                            Online

                            I have recently got my 360 on Live and it is a great experience. Many titles are given a whole new lease of life as I can play against the millions of other 360 owners online. However, ‘Viva Piñata’ does not make great use of the Live system and all you can do is send boxes containing gifts from yourself to a friend. Not inspiring and a missed opportunity as wandering around a vast online garden would have been fun. (2 out of 5)


                            Graphics

                            With its ultra colourful and cute look the graphics of ‘Viva Piñata’ may not appeal to all. However, there is no denying that they look great. The simplistic nature and bold outlook means that the game draws the eye, especially for younger gamers. They are not up to the standard of ‘Gears of War’, due to the fact that the game tries to be simple, but they still look very nice. Each piñata and plant are easily distinguishable and there are no jaggies of glitches – a solid job. (4 out of 5)

                            Sound

                            I loved the sound and music in this game as it played a huge role in creating the overall ambience that made you want to keep returning over and over again. Rare are known for their mute characters that produce funny noises to show when they are talking e.g. Banjo, and this is the case here. The background sounds are wonderful and in surround sound you can tell if something is wrong in your garden via ear! I also love the theme tune that opens the game and I always listen to it before loading up ‘Viva Piñata – Filled with Fun!’ (5 out of 5)


                            Summary

                            It is a gross shame that this game has been largely overlooked by the Xbox 360 owners out in computer land as they are missing a surprisingly deep treat. The fact that there are no guns or aliens seems to have propelled this game to the foot of the sales market and that is a crime. On the outside the game may look like a simple resource simulator for younger gamers, but play it for a few hours and you soon witness the depth and quality of the title. ‘Viva Piñata’ is the best game that Rare have produced since their SNES days and along with ‘Kameo’ represents the only family title of any quality on the 360. This game is unlikely to change people’s attitude towards the 360, but hopefully Microsoft will continue to try and broaden their gaming horizons rather than rely on the hardcore gamers they currently have.
                            (4 out of 5)


                            Maker: Rare RRP £50
                            Amazon uk £39.98
                            Play.com £39.99
                            Available in shops for approx £20

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                          • Product Details

                            Viva Piñata invites gamers to create an immersive world where living piñatas inhabit an ever-changing environment. Beginning with a few basic tools, players build and take control of this environment, using their creativity and imagination to attract, protect and manage over 60 different piñata species that can visit their world and make it their home. Appealing to kids, adults, casual gamers and enthusiasts alike, this uniquely customisable and social game rewards and challenges all players regardless of their skill level. Your reward for creating an appealing paradise is to watch the piñatas visit and eventually reside there, which is where the fun really starts.