XBox 360 Owners- A must have family friendly game

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Puritan Board Doctor
The most addictive game I’ve played in a long, long time. Seriously, I’ve not played a game that has captured my attention and time the way this game has in literally years. My wife even commented saying “I’ve not seen you into a game like this in along time.” In fact, the last game she said she recalls me playing this much, this often is “Kings Field” and “Kings Field 2” for the Playstation 2. For those not in the know, “Kings Field” is a FPRPG (first person RPG) game that I was absolutely wild about. That said don’t compare these two games! The only thing comparable is the amount of time I’ve invested with both.

Viva Piñata is a “resource management” game and I normally do not enjoy those type’s of games at all. Occasionally I’ve played a little “Roller Coaster Tycoon” or “The Sims” but I grow tired of them after a few hours of mundane game play and never touch them again. Viva Piñata keeps me coming back to it again and again.

You start the game out with a messy looking piece of land that you’ve got to clear with a shovel. Here’s the worst part of the game unfortunately. Having only a shovel is pretty weak as you have to clear the entire plot of land by pressing and holding the “A” button leveling out the rocky soil as well as concentrating on “difficult spots” (think broken wagon wheels, metal pipes, debris, etc.) hammering away with the shovel. The benefit to clearing debris is the chocolate coins (the games form of currency) you discover most times when doing so.

When you’ve got everything clear and level you can begin to plant grass, seeds, or dig water holes and or ponds. Again the shovel can be annoying, especially if you want to create a large water resource. Shoveling scoops out of your large plot of land takes way too much time. I dedicated one of my three gardens to strictly water and it took quite a while to get the entire plot dug up. In fact, wild Piñata’s showed up as I was working and I had to stop my shoveling often to tend to them and fight off enemies that attacked them. Having said all this though, it’s not horrible, just a little inconvenient. It would be nice if they gave you the option to highlight an amount of ground and shovel it all out with a giant scoop or something, even if you had to pay a little to have that done.

After you’ve begun to prepare your land (garden) Piñata’s are attracted to it by what you’ve done. Certain Piñata’s enjoy flowers, certain ones enjoy water, others grass, dirt, tall grass, trees, etc. I find it an absolute blast to see what kind of creatures I can draw to my garden. You will often see creatures just outside your boundaries and have to try and discover what will make them enter your garden and then, once you’ve accomplished that, what will make them stay. You can click on them once they’ve entered your terrain for information to help you out. Once they decide to stay you can name them, dress them up in accessories, and breed them! Breeding them is hilarious because they all have a little “dance” they do in order to breed. Before breeding though you have to make sure they are happy (foods they like, tree’s they rest in, grass to lie in, etc.) and you have to contract a builder to build them their specific dwelling place (which is also often hilarious like the old haunted house looking home the bat like creatures live in).

Along your way in this game you will “level up” which allows you the opportunity to meet “workers” on Piñata Island who will help you for a fee. There are builders, doctors to heal your Piñata’s when “Sour Piñata’s” makes them sick. The “Sour Piñata’s patrol looking to cause trouble. The challenge of the “Sours” isn’t only in keeping them away, destroying the sour candy they leave behind, and shooing them off, it’s in trying not to break them open, but instead finding what will “tame” them (cure them) causing them to be good Piñata’s that will then aid you in your work! You will encounter bar tenders, hunters, and even a bum who begs you for money (NOTE SPOILER HERE: If you treat the bum well and give him some nice hand outs he will pay you back very well later in the game, if you treat him poorly he will come back to haunt you! END SPOILER).

As you level up you will be rewarded with better shovels, better watering cans, and better things to buy in the stores and shops you visit. The amount of land you have to build your garden on also grows quite a bit! I have a very large piece of land to build on now with dozens of different Piñata’s roaming around. Part of the fun is discovering that many Piñata’s can change their species! For example, a certain flying elephant like creature (worth $600) can change to a “fire bug” if you direct it to fly through a garden torch and then put the fire out with your watering can making the new species now worth over $2000! I’ve made a ton of cash (Chocolate coins) breeding these and performing this trick over and over. Also, eventually the government of Piñata Island calls on you to send certain species to them to borrow for shows. If you do this they will reward you with prizes for your willingness to help.

While not the same, this game reminds me very much of “Poke’mon Snap”. The old picture taking game on the Nintendo 64. I’ve always hated Poke’mon, but I enjoyed the strange concept of “Snap” and played it over and over trying to get the highest score possible. Viva Piñata is similar in the way it draws you into finding more and more creatures, only this time the game play is so much deeper and there are so many more creatures to find, buy (domesticated Piñata’s), and tame. Rare has confirmed that there are over 600 different Piñata species with more coming as downloads on Xbox Live in the near future.

As for online, you can send friends Piñata’s, and other items in your “mail box”, you can even send them to yourself if you need to keep something you’ve got but need it out of your way at the moment. Rare has also promised the ability to visit your friend’s gardens and see what they have as well in the near future.

This is a very fun and addictive game. Right now I am determined to obtain the hard to find and ever-elusive Unicorn. I have to work my way up with the many different types of horses, become a master breeder, and a tree from the most rare seed but I am determined to do just that. There’s a little “odd” man who roams your garden looking at your plants and trees because he just loves seeds, if you speak with him as often as possible he will give you seeds. You can also beat him with your shovel to get his seeds but he will then often come and drop bad seeds (poison Ivy for example) for how you’ve treated him. I’ve been nothing but kind to him but alas I still await that rare seed to grow the fruit that unicorn loves. But I’ll be at this game for more and more precious hours because it’s just so addictive! If you own a 360 you’ve absolutely got to set a course for Piñata Island and join me in VIVA PINATA!

Control: Other than the dainty little shovel everything is smooth and easy to understand and put to good use.

Sound: Sound is used very well in the game to alert you to danger, rewards, and the needs of your creatures.

Graphics: It’s bright and beautiful like a Saturday morning 3D cartoon

Replay: Through the roof! I have three gardens and I can see creating more and more especially when Rare releases Xbox Live downloads.

This games rates a 9/10
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