Microsoft Game Studio, Rare Ltd.
Available on Xbox 360
Once an avid Pokemon trainer, I have since moved onto a more mature game that insists that I "catch them all". Rare's Viva Piñata series hit the Xbox 360 console last year with so much love and candy goodness and now the studio is back with a sequel, Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise.
Why is there trouble in paradise you may ask? Well, the happy people at Rare have allowed Professor Pester and his Ruffians access to the garden this round and they have managed to destroy Piñata Central records. Now it’s up to you to invite piñatas into your garden, fill them up with candy and send them off to parties around the world in order to restore the missing files.
Fans of series will love the improvements made to the controls and menu systems in order to streamline planting seeds and finding your piñatas. New piñata central goals have been added and mini games have also been added so you can show off the talents of your best piñatas. Also several new types of piñatas have been added to the roster and two new regions, Dessert Desert and Pinartic have been created to trap snowy and desert piñatas in.
Local and online multiplayer have been added to the game, so you can now share you gardening experience with others, if you so choose. If you don't fully trust your online friends though, you can limit their access to viewing your garden only. A card function added into the game allows you to print off rare piñata cards from the official website and scan them on your Xbox Live Camera to download them into the game.
Just for fun mode has also been added for younger gardeners to finally get a chance to tend to their own garden and earn piñatas at an easier level. Personally I found the requirements way too easy for my taste and since I can't even move anything from this mode to gardens in the regular mode, I figured this was really just a waste of time for a seasoned gardener like me.
Graphically the game hasn't improved much over the original except now the game doesn't chug anymore especially during auto save. However the game looked pretty darn good before for a bunch of paper piñatas, so expect some colourful environments and detailed paper piñatas in this sequel.
The sound is very cute and upbeat in this game. I personally love the theme song in Viva Piñata and tend to sing it while in the shower or while waiting for the elevator. The voices are all the original actors from the first game and cartoon, so fans will be happy with the continuity. I was very happy to hear Professor Pester cry "Victory is mine" during game play even though he had just destroyed one of my piñatas. Bugger.
Ultimately I think anyone who loves Pokemon or the previous Viva Piñata series will love this game and will be especially happy with the improvements in the game. I expect newcomers to the series will also love trying to catch them all as well as working on their digital green thumbs.
Rating 9 out of 10