Viva Pinata Review

The last game where I nurtured adorable animals was one of the recent Pokemon titles. When Viva Piñata for PC fell into my mailbox, I knew virtually nothing about the game other than it had piñatas. While you won’t be using your piñatas to fight like in Pokemon, you’ll be doing the next best thing in Viva Piñata: become their parent.

The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You raise a bunch of cute piñatas and they frolic around a small garden. At first, you get a little garden to call your own but eventually you’ll care for more. Keep your garden clean and presentable (i.e. cut the grass and remove trash) and it’ll only be a matter of moments till piñatas come sniffing around. Each “new” breed of piñata will be presented via a cutscene and it’s usually pretty entertaining.

Each piñata — in order to visit, inhabit, and procreate — needs to have some requirements fulfilled. A majority of the piñatas will need a home to live in but the other requirement(s) will usually involve the piñata growing or eating something; for the latter, it’s usually seeds or another piñata! Thankfully, piñata consumption only amounts to an explosion of candy — tasty! (And kid-safe!)

This is where I found the gameplay to be a bit stiff, especially in small gardens. The gameplay is very easy, and it gets boring after a while since it’s the same routine over and over; I guess it’s the same reason why I would never own a nursery or teach a kindergarten class. All of these piñatas constantly seeking attention and having needs to be fulfilled got to my head.

In addition to the game’s approachable (if not overly simplistic) gameplay, there’s plenty of customization available. If you want to build your piñata garden of your dreams, you can do in Viva Piñata. Since you have a size limit per garden, you’ll find that building more gardens is necessary to attract as many different piñata species as possible. To break the monotony, you can customize your gardens to however you see fit. Want a garden with nothing but grass, or one with tall grass in only one corner? You can do it all in the game.

Visually, I think the colorful art direction works well, but the engine implementation seemed to be a bit rough around the edges because there were some rough textures in some places. In the right light, though, the game offered some beautiful moments. Piñata fur is visually fuzzy and the morning sun offers plenty of HDR lighting.

The game’s UI is a bit bulky for my tastes; the in-game menus were pretty cumbersome to navigate through and were clearly envisioned with an Xbox 360 controller in mind. The camera is easy to use but you can’t re-map the controls to suit your own needs. While the default controls aren’t bad (the directional keys), I’d rather use others instead.

Using piñatas as a game’s focus is still pretty unique, even this distant from the original Viva release on the 360. The game is very family-friendly, the gameplay is pretty easy and the visuals are very liberal on the bright colors. Each piñata species has its own language, adorable appearance and little cute animations, which certainly sit well for anyone. Viva Piñata will satisfy the casual crowd and children fairly easily, but regular gamers will find it to be a complete hit, or a complete miss. The transition from Xbox 360 to PC was a bit rough, but it’s still a decent port job.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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