Viva Pinata

2008-12-17 22:43:42

Viva Pinata (xbox 360)

I know you must be thinking. Viva Pinata? What you doing playing children's games? I took it upon myself to play this game not just because I expected it to be horribly bad, but I also played it because of Microsofts insufferable advertising of the franchise. Obviously Microsoft Game Studios is the reason we have this... this... Mind Trip of a game. To cut to the quick on this one I'll say right now that the target market for this game has to be: Pot-heads, Children under 10, and Bored Housewives, essentially the mentally immature, or mentally retarded.

The game is very colorful and stylized. Starting you off in a shitty garden with crap stuck in the mud(like tires, arcade machines, etc) and no Pinata's to care for, and ending up with lush green pinata grass, crops, flowers, trees, houses, a pond, and well, just about anything you can imagine you'd find in someone's landscaping project. That is what this game is, it is nothing more than a landscape editor thrown together with some lame minigames for the children, and a handful of witty jokes for the adults to catch. Basically it's a game equivelant to a Pixar movie. Looks like it's for the kids, but has enough buried adult humor to keep the adults awake.

Anything you do to your garden changes the attractiveness of the garden. Attractiveness is important when it comes to getting Pinata's to take up residence. Your first citizens is a worm pinata called a Whirlm. you'll be granted a free house for the Whirlms to live in and the whirlm will change color from black and white(the color of all non-resident "good" pinatas) to Orange and Red. You'll even be invited to brand your pinata's so people can know where they got it from. You can name all your residents though you'll quickly find that annoying with your "prey" residents as you'll be producing so many you'll stop caring about their names since they'll just get eaten anyway.

As the game goes on you'll receive upgraded items, and are more or less allowed to design the garden however you would want. Within monetary reason of course. Game money comes in the form of chocolate coins, which can be had through mating your Pinata's together, selling the pinata, or selling produce. It honestly took me a while to explore the art of selling produce as at first I thought the only way to make money was to breed. After feeling retarded about that I started creating lots of produce which were netting significant profits, to the point I could hire the gardener assistant to come and water my new found goldmine. Truly this game is open ended as you can plant and sculpt your garden into anything you want, however there are a few snags to this idea.

As great as a landscape designer might work as a Zen Garden for the terminally bored, and might be a way to keep a kid occupied for a little while, the game has nuances that can be fairly irritating. Such as there are some Pinata's, such as Fudgehogs that need to eat Thistles to take up residence. Problem with growing Thistles is that they are a weed and anytime any other pinata's touch the Thistles they become angry and immediately start attacking other Pinata's for no other reason other than just being angry. Making for difficult upkeep making sure that some Pinata's can get access to resources they require, while also ensuring the safety of the ecosystem. The Ecosystem is very delicate and can be a real educational experience for children about how things like that work, if they don't get so frustrated they leave the game in disgust.

Stoners, which incidentally make up a huge percentage of Xbox Live users also take up this game as the crisp 1080p vibrance of colors attracts them like Christmas Lights or other shiny objects, as well as the completely pointless and ultimately non-story based gameplay. This game just drops you off in the sandbox and tells you to create. The ability to create is also big with the moms as they can spend their lonely time away from their adulterous business men doing something, and with the fact that you can buy/sell/trade on xbox live with this game, Mom can become an e-business for digital furry candy containers.

In the end, this game isn't horrible, it is a beautifully rendered virtual garden for those city slickers who live in condos, those housewives with atrophied minds who can mindlessly plug away at their gardens, and kids who can stand the frustrating bits, and might still have fun if you just got them a sandbox instead.

Reason Rank
Start 10
Crisp Stylized Graphics +5
Virtually no point/story -7
Mindless Mating Minigames(MMM) -3
Engaging Eco-Management -1
You have to pay for it -3


I've reviewed things far worse than this game, but the whole sandbox/timewaster genre(Sims, Sims2, Viva Pinata, Spore) are a tourist trap on the side of the gaming highway, they always promise so much openness that a gamer just has to take a look, hoping to find some shimmer of the Virtual Reality the movies of the 80's and beyond have promised us. Only to find another simple gimmick game, that while addictive, offers nothing to us in the end, the only way to win is not to play. If you have 19 bucks for the original title, or 40 bucks for the newest title and want something to consume your life for a week or so, or keep the wife off your back, or you have 420 somewhere in your gamertag, this might be worth a buy, then anytime you're stuck sitting in your hemp beanbag chair saying "fuck, I'm bored" slap this baby in and get farming, alternatively though, you can just go outside you lazy fat bastard!