An exercise in heartbreaking futility.
Gardening. In my mind, it's always been an exciting prospect, the idea of growing this thing from pitiful beginnings to mighty ends using simply the power of nature has forever intrigued me. So, every so often, I buy seeds and soil and plantpots and whatnot, and I grow plants. Manly, exciting plants. Then, however, the idea of a powerful lifeform bursting before my very eyes from the soil crumbles away to reveal tedious watering and soil maintenence. I could water it, or I could sleep for five more minutes. I let plants die for five minutes of sleep, because it's much less exciting than the dream told me it would be.
So, Viva Pinata. This game takes gardening and makes it exciting, just like my dreams. Flowers shoot mightily upwards in mere seconds after planting, animals rush in to greedily devour them and, yes, these animals are made of delicious sugary treats. From humble beginnings in a dieing garden littered with Rare references amongst all the debris, you grow a mighty haven for pinatas. With nothing but a shovel, a watering can, a packet of seeds and a long attention span you too can become a master gardener.
But a garden doth not merely sprout overnight. As you begin, given a flyby tour of a nearby village on Pinata Island, you are shown your garden. A depressing, brown stain on an island paradise. You are given a shovel. You are told to pat the ground, and you oblige. The parched earth scurries away from the abuse and you have attracted your first pinata. A criminally adorable worm-like creature, called a Whirlm, eagerly mingles with the mud and rolls happily around your garden, often attracting "awwwww"s from any bystanders. A seed packet is thrust into your posession and you cause lush, green grass to instantly replace the mud and attracting more pinatas to your tiny plot. Various plant seeds are strewn about your garden, begging to be planted and exploited for monetary gain. More pinatas come. You settle into a rythm, and are forced to care for your various loyal residents with the money you recieve from selling and cultivating crops.
Everything you do is instantly rewarded with gorgeous visual feedback, patterned trees sprouting from their eyecatching, bouncing seeds, pinatas splashing merrily in the pond you just built. Each and every pinata is unique, you can name them, buy them accessories, give them houses and allow them to grow children. But, it is here that you get attached. My first pinata resident, a Whirlm called Steve, was my favourite. He was always there, always content with life in a way that Whirlms often are. I fed him a seed and he turned purple, causing him to forever stand out in the jarring mix of colours in my garden. When I could, I bought him a small hat and a prop shark fin. Steve was awesome. He was the progenitor of my entire garden and, dare I say it, I grew to love the little guy as a pet. Then... then, a random hedgehog equivalent wandered clumsily into my garden at night, on the hunt. He was prone to eating Whirlms, something I couldn't stand for. Perhaps it was the eyecatching purple, the hat or shark fin that attracted this hedgehog to Steve, but something caught his eye.
I was too late to do anything, Steve was cruelly snatched from my garden in the prime of his old age, candy bursting from his remains and his carcass floated past my garden's border and reassembled, but I knew that I had lost Steve forever. It was soul-shattering. "What's the point in telling us this?", you may be wondering. Well, this just highlights what a brutal game hides underneath Viva Pinata's bright exterior. To truly succeed, you must turn your garden into a business. Exploit Whirlms, breed them until there is too many and sell the children on. Feed them to Sparrowmints so that they may breed and then sell their more valuable children as a result.
Now, now, I haven't even talked about the gameplay yet! While heartbreaking in it's deeper meanings, Viva Pinata is a highly enjoyable gardening sim. Hell, if real gardening was this rewarding and deep, I would be outside right now. You are given tools, and ultimate freedom in how you use them. You, obviously, can't have every pinata as some don't get along, so you can build a specialist garden for, say, only aquatic pinatas, or try a bit of everything. Hundreds of seed varieties and pinatas evoke a Pokemon effect, you gotta catch 'em all.
Conflict arrises in the form of Ruffians and sour pinatas. Ruffians are there just to mess up your garden, and sour pinatas each specialise in a specific brand of destructions. Some spit up sour candy, others eat all of your seeds, but all are there to ruin your hard work. And you can't let that happen. Each sour pinata can be conquered, and thus, each can use their powers for good, not evil. This offers new challenges in the Pokemon effect, mixing things up and giving you a reasonable short-term goal.
Viva Pinata is a jarringly good looking game, with instantly endearing characters and liberal application of colour. Details include individual pieces of paper on the pinata floating in the breeze, to your own custom tags visible on their... fleeces (?). The pinata designs are adorable, with even the most surprising of animals given a huggable makeover. My story with Steve only highlights how much it's possible to connect with these critters.
As a whole, Viva Pinata is a great game. Adorable, endearing and occasionaly soul-crushing, there's something for everyone. You want to grow this garden, you care for its residents in a way that only truly great games can make you. Go now, save your parched land from the cruel embrace of lifelessness and populate the world's birthday parties with pinatas once more!
This has been T-Bone, your guide to the world of opinion.
Really quite good, I loved it and shared your pain at the loss of Steve
It really is an amazing game :')
Why thank you sir.
My, my everyone, don't all talk at once!
I loved that review I like your writing style T, I also like your heavy skills on tf2 but thats beside the point. When I played viva pinata I actually loved it when I first saw it I thought it was a kiddy's game but you get into it so quickly. any way 100/10 :D great effort. DO MOAR!!
And R.I.P Steve you will be missed
Nice review, in fact I might go and play Viva pinata again, I forgot how much fun it was to force animals into incestuous breeding so I could feed their offspring to their neighbours.
I forgot how much fun it was to force animals into incestuous breeding so I could feed their offspring to their neighbours.
I never had the heart for that, I get so attached to adorable critters that forcing their offspring to mate and the children produced to be greedily devoured by a neighbouring creature just seems cruel.
Oh, and please look at my other reviews, because without feedback I get all self-conscious.
I feel like it was more of a story than a review, but a story that came from the heart. I had learnt to love Steve myself after hearing about his delightful childhood in the garden, then reading about him being ripped away from existence... It hurt me, but only a fraction of how it must have hurt you, and for that you have my eternal sympathy.
But as for the game I don't know what type of game it is genre wise, or what platform it is on. All I do know I really want to get into it on the same level you appear to have.
I feel like it was more of a story than a review, but a story that came from the heart. I had learnt to love Steve myself after hearing about his delightful childhood in the garden, then reading about him being ripped away from existence. It hurt me only a fraction of how it must have hurt you, and for that you have my eternal sympathy.
But as for the game I don't know what type of game it is genre wise, or what platform it is on. I do know I really want to get into it on the same level you appear to have though.
Oi, I mentioned very briefly that it was a gardening sim. But I did get that sense when I was writing it. Unfortunately, I can't get all the internets from it back into the jar, so it's impossible to change now.
EDIT: But you have no idea how happy I get when I see a comment.
....I have to go play and review this now. Damn, you just reminded me of its awesomeness.
I really enjoyed the review, the sense of humor was pretty refreshing.
Great review. I do love this game but the loss of your named ones is most certainly a pain I have felt no matter how much you try to protect them something always gets them.
Great review, I mostly agree with you about the game.
I hope to see more of these in ze future.
Your back! Hello again, well written review with a brilliant opening. Good work.