Rare's Viva Pinata is turning into quite a franchise, with two games on the Xbox 360, another due later in the year, and a DS version from THQ. However, Rare says that the move to the Nintendo system has been incredibly smooth and the team has managed to finish the game in a relatively swift manner. Now just awaiting a final publish date, the game is looking very promising, and we were lucky enough to have Rare in the London office to discuss the finished product.
Thankfully, for anyone who loved the Xbox 360 original, the DS game stays true to its roots. You'll still be looking after a garden, attracting piñatas, and then mating them to produce more animals. The difference here is that the story will be episodic, with 12 episodes overall. The first four will act as tutorials, teaching you the basics, as well as how to use the new touch screen controls. The development team has tried to create a complete interface around the touch screen and just about managed to pack everything into the game. You can click the icons on the corner of the screen to pull out tools, such as your trusty shovel, and you can drag the cursor along the screen to tell your pinata where to go. The top screen is then used to provide facts about your garden, such as the percentage of soil, grass, and water that you're using, while the D pad moves the camera.
There will be 70 pinatas in the DS version of the game, of which seven will be completely new. Sadly, there'll be no romancing minigames to play through, and instead, you'll see an animation of your animals performing a romance dance. There will be plenty of prerendered video sequences in the game, including clips from the first series of the TV show--something that requires the largest capacity DS cartridge that Nintendo currently makes. There's also a playground mode where you can add all the items and pinatas you like or just play around with them. And there's a feature to share items with other users over the console's wireless connection.
Rare tells us that Viva Pinata Pocket Paradise has actually been finished for some time, and it's just down to when THQ wants to release it. The publisher currently has October down as a release date, so we're hopeful about seeing the game released in the not-too-distant future.