Review by fourfourtwo442

Reviewed: 09/17/08

Viva Forever - wait, scratch that, Viva For A While

Viva Pinata, a sandbox game that puts you in the place of someone trying to rebuild a once luscious, now run-down garden into a pleasant paradise teaming with Pinatas.

Sounds childish right?

It is, but that is merely just the cover of this book. You see, after you bash open this game with your shovel, be it with a Dastardos head or a platinum handle, you will uncover a game of depth that will have you trying to keep your pinatas happy, whilst growing plants, nurturing both them and pinatas, and also trying to attract new and more exotic ones, at the same time. That really just scratches the surface though, there are many kinds of pinatas, and they each have different needs to become resident, visit or even appear on the outskirts of your garden! This might seem challenging but it is simplified with the help of the very useful in-game encyclopedia, which has information for every pinata that you have encountered, plus information on plants, decorations for your garden to make it look better and even on the few in-game characters.

The game starts off well, with tutorials to help you get into the swing of things, and who to give the tutorials other than the mascots of the series from the TV show. I have never watched it, but they do a decent job. When you are taken out of the pre-set timeless environment of the tutorials, you will be thrown to a birds eye view of your garden. It is quite zoomed in so you can move around but if that doesn't appear fast enough you can simply tap on the map icon on the top left of the screen (or push L) and tap where you want to go on the map, it turns out to be quite useful. At the beginning you will run out of money (chocolate coins is the currency) quite frequently, as you cater for the needs of your garden, whether it buying seeds, pinata houses or even better tools. Soon enough, your first pinata, a Whirlm (worm) will arrive, and you will take care of it, and even build a house for it so it can "romance" (that is the under 7 way of saying reproduce.) Thus, you will begin to build your vast garden to accomodate various pinatas, more exotic looking, and better selling Pinatas, which increase in variety according to your Gardener Level. It is quite fun to be honest, to see your garden flourish and your pinatas thrive in your paradise, for a while. The game reaches peak fun at around Gardener level 5-6, where you have to backtrack and romance your pinatas a few times to get the Master Romancer award, just to get PP to level up, so you can get better pinatas.

The graphics are top notch, very colourful, just what you should expect from this kind of game, and they are very good for a DS game, they are probably this game's strongest point. The graphics have never lagged for me, and when you move around the screen it is a joy to see your massive Chippopotamus sitting on the pond you've dug up, whilst your Horstachio is moving around with a top hat.

The sound is basic, the menu's theme is very catchy, but that is all, in the garden, all you hear is a bit of background music with realistic ambience, which soon becomes annoying but not to the extent that you will really have to turn the volume off, although there is different music for the shops.

The gameplay is superb, everything moves flawlessy, and you will realise you don't need to tap an apple, hit sell, then select the tick, and move onto the next one and that you can simply just hit select, and instead of selecting the tick you can tap other things you want to sell as well (I realised this later sadly.) To get the better pinatas, you need a better gardener level, it makes sense, and when you do reach around mid point on the gardener level, you will unlock some better pinatas.

Replay value, this game can take a while, if you put up with it, you will be rewarded, seeing as there are six (Appear, Visit, Resident, Romance, Master Romance, Variant) awards and around 80 or so pinatas. Plus 13 pages of certificates, so there's a lot of stuff to do, and since the game progresses quite slowly after a while, you will be playing this for a long time if you decide to get 100%

To conclude;
If you read all of the above, and saw all of the positives of the game then you will wonder why it got 8/10. The reason for this is because the game is fun, for the first few hours, as you will see if you ask on the boards if you should buy this game, but soon enough, the game will bore you, especially when you get better tools and thus have less work to do, and you will be just moving around the map looking at your pinatas in the hope something new will happen, it does get tedious, the game is very childish too, although it has depth, it just doesn't feel right romancing pinatas to make more, then bashing them with the flat side of your shovel to get candy that the other pinatas will happily eat. After reaching around gardener level 7 or 8 you will realise there is little left in the game except just a few more pinatas, nothing to unlock in the shops, nothing to do except perfect your gardening experience. In the end, this game is worth buying and you should persevere with it, as it is rewarding with the effort you put in, if you put it in.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise (EU, 09/05/08)

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