Monday, January 15, 2007

Review: Viva Piñata (Xbox 360)


Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Rare
Release: November 2006

Although it may not appeal to an incredibly wide market, those who decide to give it a try will find Viva Piñata to be one of the best and most entertaining Xbox 360 releases yet.

Unique, creative games that dare to offer an off-the-beaten path experience are certainly a rare breed in today’s game industry of sequels and ho-hum, drab, me-too releases, but Viva Piñata is one of the few titles that deliver a highly creative and satisfying experience unlike anything you’ve ever played before. Although it may not appeal to an incredibly wide market, those who decide to give it a try will find Viva Piñata to be one of the best and most entertaining Xbox 360 releases yet.


You begin this game on a small area of land in the middle of an island. It’s deserted, over-run with trash, weeds, and other various filth, and nothing can be planted as there is no real soil to do so. Your job is to transform this little wasteland into a thriving garden so that you’ll attract Piñatas to live and enjoy their selves in the area you’ve created.

To get Piñatas from all over the island to live in your garden you’ll have to build them homes, set up plants, and do other various things to attract them. Each unique Piñata is attracted to something other than another, so what gets one Piñata coming to your garden might not work on another. With over 60 different Piñatas to allure to your garden and unique ways for each to come, Viva Piñata offers a stellar amount of replay value.

As you play on the game gets increasingly difficult, but it does so at your pace so you’ll be ready for whatever challenge the game throws at you, whether it’s an undesirable visitor or a new shovel upgrade. Also, new shops and other attractions open up, and they all offer ways for you to improve your garden. A journal in the game keeps track of your progress and your Achievements. In addition to that you get more space in your garden as you progress, allowing you to add more plants, trees, and homes to it.

Viva Piñata does not force you down a narrow-path, and offers a totally open-ended experience. No two people will get the same experience out of this one, and this is undeniably a good thing as you’ll want to see how your friend’s gardens have expanded through time. Unfortunately you can’t really truly visit someone’s garden through Xbox Live, though this was most likely done so that rascal gamers don’t intentionally mess up each other’s gardens that they put hard work into.

The visuals in Viva Piñata are fantastic. The grass, character designs, environments – everything looks simply stunning, and the cartoon look gives Viva Piñata its own unique graphical flavor. The sounds here impress as well, blending in smoothly with the whole experience and adding to it.

To be honest, I did not initially enjoy this game. However, as I went on and played more and more, there were nights where I found myself up until 3 A.M. playing Viva Piñata. Romancing your Piñatas, buying them homes, customizing their looks, seeing which new ones you can attract… it’s all incredibly addictive, and if you’ve played through those “other” big games of the holiday season then you owe it to yourself to finally check this one out.

Rating: 8.5 (out of 10)

5 Comments:

At 9:58 AM, Blogger gnome said...

I'm sold! Actually I would have been had I a X360... Great review ross. Thanks.

 
At 11:40 PM, Blogger J said...

Cool review. The game has gotten decent reviews all-round. Shame about the sales though.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger The Elderly said...

i overlooked this as more suitable for kids (the human kind not the goat offspring...) not anymore, ace review....

 
At 7:16 PM, Blogger fatherkrishna said...

Good review Ross, I'm all for games which think outside of the box... but would you agree with me that this seems out of character for the Xbox? Looks more to me like a Nintendo title... Good on 'em for branching out, although I wonder if it's in direct response to the 'family fun' appeal of the Wii...

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this game. I'm 17 and I downloaded the demo because it was raining out. Had to go buy the game the next day. And I didnt stay up till 3am I stayed up till 4am.

 

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