Community Corner – Ode to Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise

The following article is the inaugural piece for our Community Corner, written by our wonderful community member, Cerys:

Viva Piñata Trouble in Paradise is quite frankly one of the, if not the, best games of the 360 generation.

It is charming, amusing, deep, addictive and a visual treat.

You start the game to see the games’ Antagonist Professor Pester attempting to steal all Piñata data from Piñata Central. In his hubris and lack of foresight, naturally he employs witless goons who instead wipe all the data and give this game the focus its predecessor lacked, you now are tasked with refilling this database of crepe paper creatures by attracting them to your garden.

The game begins with a small area, a random small Piñata, some flowers and decoration. Before long simple Piñata start appearing, all with wonderfully punny names, A whirlm, a Bispotti, a Sparrowmint among the first. These have simple requirements to visit and stay, Bispotti love a flower or two, Whilrms love soil or Grass and Sparrowmints love, you guessed it, Whilrms. Seedos, one of the games’ NPC’s starts to distribute seeds and growing these will in turn attract more Piñata and so on.

Mammals? Hatching from Eggs? Whoever heard of such goings on!

All of these actions fill, with pleasing regularity, your XP “Flower” gaining you access to more tools, more seeds, and a bigger garden. In time you can explore and “trap” Piñata from the Dessert Desert and the Pinarctic, and make sand and snow in your main garden. For adversarial content sour Piñata, leaving a trail of weeds and messing with your inhabitants start to arrive, almost always at inopportune times. These too, can be tamed and turned to more friendly variants complete with a “cuter” facelift.

Later Professor Pester and his sycophants will arrive and naturally apoplectic with your excellent cataloguing, hassle your Piñatas or smash your stuff. Bribery, being smashed with shovels or specific “Papery pals” will help make short work of these nuisances.

A Sour Profitamole decides to come and bother my sleeping babies and drop weed seeds everwhere, the cad! Yet he can be turned to the light side with the right object…

But that’s not all, Piñatas can be bred, when specific romance requirements are met and a house built you can produce breathtakingly cute baby Piñatas, which mature over time. Aside from awkward conversations with children about which whirlm is the Father/Mother/Son/Daughter (since there are no Genders and no limits on in-breeding) this is fun and satisfying, each Piñata species have their own house, romance dance and minigame before an egg is delivered and hatched.

God damn you Xbox Capture system, why is it so hard… Here have a Youtube Romance dance. Happy now?

To make it even more fun one can, breed for rare Piñata Variants, with 2 of the 3 variants being available and the third being from trading with someone who was blessed by RNG with that variant. You can also, with skill breed twin Piñatas, and combine twins with variants. All of these steps will increase the Piñata value as will sending Piñata to more and more Parties. In this games world when a Piñata is sufficiently happy and filled with sweeties you can send them to children’s parties where they are harmlessly smashed with sticks to release their sugary sweetmeat before returning home, empty but unharmed.

You need to master both romancing and the romance minigame to get the option to breed Twin! Wildcards… Awwwwwwww THEY ARE SOOO CUTE!

To give goals of what to do besides the satisfaction of building the perfect garden there are also challenges from amphibian NPC Langford who will ask for specific species of Piñata to go to specific parties all over the world. The steps to complete these quests will often require a garden rethink and rebuild, fortunately the games chocolate coin currency and unlocks carry across your save and you can build further gardens and use the in game post office to move Piñatas back and forth. Similarly you can send Piñata to friends with the post office or (on 360 with the webcam) encode piñata onto barcodes to send to friends or post online.

Please don’t think of what the people at the Baby Gender reveal party would do with a cute baby piñata stuffed with sweets, its best to ignore since they come back empty yet unharmed.

This is all ignoring the further depth of the game; tricks that can be taught, Piñata Costumes, Cosmetic items for your garden, Trees and harvestable food, helpers for gardens, a fun 2 player option for non gamers or children, a “creative” mode free from molestation or the need for coins and finally, minigames to play to further increase Piñata Value.

Viva Piñata is, for me, the greatest game Rare has made, it is a delight to play, Looks wonderful (more so via back compatibility) and represents the Quintessential “E” game. Its accessible, fun for everyone to play and contains enough depth for every skill level to be able to join in and enjoy. It is Rare’s answer to Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Sim city, it is in almost every way, perfect.

Revisiting the wonderful world of Viva Piñata with a new game would be an excellent choice for Xbox, bigger gardens, or perhaps an island with biomes and maybe some light gathering mechanics added would suit it well. As would deeper terraforming abilities, perhaps having an actual character model free to be created and with cosmetics similar to the NPC’s wonderful clothing style, with friends joining you and enjoying time pass a-la AC New Horizons. Trouble in Paradise had so many social hooks we take for granted these days, A photo mode, visiting others’ Gardens, being able to send piñatas to and from friends gardens and the ability to exercise and share your creativity.

Its on gamepass, and it remains, despite its 14 years of age an excellent experience.

Try it out, Cerys wants to trade variants.

About the author:

Cerys lives in Germany and misses proper crisps. She’s been playing games since her father bought a Dragon 32. She has played way too much No Man’s Sky and shows no sign of stopping.

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