Is it worth returning to paradise?
Back in 2006 we saw the release of the original Viva Piñata on the Xbox 360, and despite its lovable, childish exterior, it concealed a deviously in-depth time stealer. 2008 saw the release of the perhaps unnecessary Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, so is it really worth a purchase over the original?
Well, to begin with, if you enjoyed the first game, you’re going to enjoy this new outing for the adorable critters of Piñata Island. As far as gameplay goes, things have not changed much since the previous game, with controls remaining the same, and working absolutely fine, and the general aim of the game being very similar to that of before. There are some tweaks to the game however, that do improve it more over the original.
To begin with you actually get a hint of a storyline in TiP, although it isn’t strong at all, as you may expect. It pretty much revolves around the unknown reasoning of Professor Pester, the game’s antagonist, wiping all of the data of every species of Piñata from the Piñata Central Database, leaving you to the task of building up a new database from scratch. This turn of events then leads you into the game’s equivalent of a tutorial, teaching you the basics of managing your garden, and also introducing some of the new elements to the gameplay. The most important of these new additions is the Dessert Desert and the Piñarctic regions, where you can catch, as you may be able to guess, native desert Pinatas and species that find themselves more at home in the barren snowscape. These regions, for the majority, contain brand new Pinatas, such as the ‘Sweetle’ and the ‘Pengum’, and these must be lured to your base garden by purchasing and laying a trap to catch them. Once successfully captured, the Pinata then gets boxed up and shipped off to your humble abode. From there, the Piñata takes a similar structure to that of the ‘neutral’ ones, where you just need to meet its personal requirements for it to make itself at home.
Perhaps this all sounds complicated in writing, but the game actually does a wonderful job of easing you into the ins and outs of running your little paradise of sorts, before thrusting you straight into the many possibilities the game offers you. Do you try to cram as many species as you can into one garden, or do you turn the place into a breeding center, maxing out the number of one species to make more money? Or perhaps you find yourself as more of a designer, and would rather just make a garden that’s appealing to look at. As you start gaining resident Pinatas, some of the more elusive ones will begin to show their faces, with large residential requirements showing that the game is deviously more in-depth than the beautiful, yet slightly childish graphics let on.
I fix my mask with water and paste!
It’s when you find you’ve been playing for 4 hours straight that you notice the games addictive ‘5 more minutes’ charm has hooked you in, and you’re experimenting with everything possible to lure the elusive Roario into your garden.
Also, if you’re finding all this work to do in the game is just too much, you can get a friend over to play 2 player local co-op, or get a few friends and play 4 player co-op over Xbox Live. These welcome additions certainly help you to get things done quicker, and it’s easy to set up the game so that strangers can’t join and sell all of your most valuable species, before letting out some profanities and leaving you alone in an empty garden.
However, I did have some minor annoyances while playing through, with the most irritating of these being the quick loading screens which insist on coming up for a whole 3 seconds while you load one of the games many shops. This may sound slightly petty, but after seeing all that color bursting in for a whole few seconds for the 300th time, you’d rather they had just used a simple fade-out, fade-in system. Also, the voice acting in the game, although done fairly well, is extremely childish, with some of the characters stating things which seem to bear no relevance to what’s going on at all, and giving the impression that they have some sort of mental issue (Seedos – “I fix my mask with water and paste!”).
So, if you’ve already played the original to death, is it worth buying this upgrade? In my opinion, it’s very much worth it. The refined gameplay, improved graphics, and incredibly relaxing music aren’t enough for you, then perhaps the extra 20 species on top of the originals 20 may entice you to give the residents of Piñata Island another visit.
The Bad: Perhaps too addictive, unnecessary loading screens, “I fix my mask with water and paste!”