Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise
Available for Nintendo DS
A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the newest Viva Piñata game for the Xbox 360 and found it to be a great game full of piñata collecting and garden tending. Well, Rare decided this time to create a handheld version of the Viva Piñata series to launch along side the new console sequel and joined up with the people at THQ to publish it. So I grab my Nintendo DS and took my piñata show on the road to test out Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise.
Not straying far from the basic idea of the main Viva Piñata game, Pocket Paradise has you creating and maintaining a small garden in order to attract and romance piñatas to send to Piñata central. With each level you achieve new items open up at the store to buy and new piñatas appear in your garden to attract. In the end, you still have to collect and romance them all.
The differences between the handheld and the console versions are really just small adjustments made to streamline the game for easier game play while out and about. Romancing no longer requires mini games to be successful at, but you also can’t just buy romance candy at the store to feed to your piñatas to get them in the mode though. You have to earn the candy by completing Piñata Central requests. Fertilizer also cannot be bought at the store anymore and has to be made by Tafflies.
The tool menu has been streamlined to make selecting items quick and easy. A new map system allows you to find your piñatas quickly and see new piñatas on the edge of the garden as well. The duel screen allows for garden stats to show during the entire game which include facts about the selected piñata, your gardening level, the percentage of soil type in the garden, etc. Water planets like water lilies no longer need to be water as you now plant them directly into the water and ponds when dug have rocks to line the edges for a neat artsy effect.
My only two complaints about this game were how sensitive the stylus controls were when you tried to direct a piñata over to any object; I found I kept missing the object and selecting something else. I also found my small little garden got crowded real quick when I started romancing my piñatas. The number for a master romancer award should have been lower to a smaller number.
Though no online play is available, you can trade piñatas with friends via wifi connection which is a nice way to get those hard to find piñatas.
Fans of the TV Show will love this version of the series more than the console version because characters like Hudson Horstachio and Fergie Fudgehog are in the game to guide you through the tutorials with actual clips from the TV show. You can replay these clip any time too, just by using the episode mode.
For less experience players who just want to play around, there’s a playground mode which gives you unlimited access to all the piñata types and store items to create your perfect garden. You can’t check off any romance, variant or master romancer stats in this mode though.
Rare managed to stuff the entire colour and paper goodness of the console game into the Nintendo DS graphics with very little left behind. Sure you don’t get the flowing paper pieces on the piñatas bodies, but I can live with it. The video clips run pretty smooth on the DS and the sound is excellent. It has a strong and crisp tone which I can take anywhere I need my Viva Piñata theme song fix.
Rare had such a great task with trying to downside such a big game like Viva Piñata into such a small system without leaving any of the good stuff behind and they managed to pull it off. Pocket Paradise is the perfect way to have your piñatas and romance them too.
Rating: 8 out of 10