Written by: Andrew Cefalo
I would consider it rare that we stumble across a game rated E that really is for EVERYONE. Games for kids are usually too simple for teen and/or adult audiences.
The concept behind Viva Pinata is ridiculous; the developers agree that it sounds silly. Growing a garden to attract pinatas that are supposed to be reproduced, not broken open. Sounds like a kid’s game. The game is completely addicting and is really hard to put down. It has frequently been compared to Animal Crossing as it revolves around similar principals.
Game play is intriguing; I have never been left with a ‘now what’ feeling and there are even times when I feel like I have way too much to take care of. Pinatas that I do not want are entering my garden and are fighting with my residents. Usually a quick whack of my shovel gets them to leave but sometimes I need to clean up the mess they leave me with. There is a background storyline that occurs in your game storybook, yet as the developers pointed out it is not really necessary to follow. I got bored with it and rarely pay attention as it progresses. This is a very open ended Sims-like game yet it maintains structure that keeps gamers focused on a goal. There are several restrictions (such as land space) that keep you working to remove; things like money (chocolate coins in the game) motivate you to start harvesting. Of course, even growing these plants can be a challenge and you must first ask Seedos for some seeds. The game moves at your own speed as you only advance when you have completed enough tasks. Attracting new pinata works almost as a timeline for your progress through the game (we found out at the game release that there are a total of 68 different pinatas).
Not all pinata’s get along (the bees and the ants hate each other), and they will fight to the death. Obviously, when a pinata kills another pinata it explodes, and candy comes out. The interesting part is that when this happens a faint cheer comes from little kids, which we found to be a little disturbing. Once we were able to move past that sick and twisted element of game play we loved the concept.
We tried to play multiplayer as it says there is online play as well as up to 4 local players. Multiplayer is weird though as you both control the same game. It works well for taking turns but do not be mislead, there is no verses mode.
Viva Pinata has now become my motivator to complete homework. That is correct, I set boundaries to keep myself from playing. I am very much looking forward to winter break when I can play this all day without worrying about how much time it is consuming. And no, I am not embarrassed to admit that I own both Gears of War and Viva Pinata but elect (from time to time) to play the latter over the former.