Trouble in Paradise follows on from the success of the original Rare-developed Viva Pinata and its mediocre follow-up, Viva Pinata: Party Animals, handled by Australian developer Krome Studios. Trouble in Paradise is being developed by the original team at Rare, and though the core experience seems unchanged, a range of new features and modes have been added to make rearing pinatas better than ever. All of the pinatas from the original are back, and they're joined by 30-odd new and equally delightful pinatas. Some of the pinatas we saw on display included the aptly-named Sparrowmint, Wirlm, Custacean, Buzzenge, Walrusk, Crowla, and Bispotti.
Trouble in Paradise assistant producer Adam Park told us that although they hadn't planned to include all of the original pinatas, they couldn't bear the thought of sidelining some of the furry creatures, and we agree; they're all so cute, how could you possibly pick favourites? Rare has also tweaked the user interface and tutorials to make the experience easier than before.
Pester's back from the original and looking to cause havoc. Although the story is far from complete at this stage of development, it seems that he's out to use the pinatas to his own ends. To protect the innocent residents of Pinata Island from the cruellest of fates, you'll need to attract the cute critters to your garden, help them look their very best, and ship them off to parties to avoid capture by Pester. You'll also earn cash for doing this, which you can spend on making your garden shine all the more. Sour pinatas are also back to wreak havoc in your garden, and you'll need to shoo them away or find a way to make them behave. If you tame them, they will become useful and ward away other would-be pests.
Trouble in Paradise includes a new two-player cooperative mode so friends can play alongside one another. Whereas the first player will control the game's action, the second player can assist by doing tasks such as planting seeds, watering plants, and interacting with pinatas. To make up for a lack of control, the second player will get access to the best spade and watering can from the get-go.
Rare has worked on improving the behavioural interactions between pinatas, and considering that you'll have to name each one, it's hard not to become attached to the little critters.
One of the coolest additions to the franchise is the addition of Pinata Vision. By scanning bar-coded cards with the Xbox Live Vision camera, you can import new Pinata variations into the game. We received a special pack of cards that included a yeti, moose, monkey, tortoise, parrot, cat, warthog, gorilla, camel, and crab, among others. Rare is still considering how to distribute the cards, but said they might appear as a promotion on game-magazine covers and game sites. This was illustrated by a fullscreen JPEG image of a pinata that had been saved to a PDA. The PDA screen was then scanned by the camera, just like a tangible card.
In addition to pinata cards, Trouble in Paradise sees the introduction of toys to your garden. Although they don't seem to have any practical applications, they do make for an entertaining diversion. Some of the ones available include working rocket ships, pirate battalions, and choo-choo trains that you and the pinatas can play with.
In addition to cultivating regular soil to grow plants, you'll have access to other surface types including sand (perfect for growing cacti) and snow, both of which will bring some of the more exotic species to your garden, including crabs and snow-dwelling birds.
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise will be coming to the Xbox 360 later this year. With new pinatas, cards, toys, two-player co-op, and an improved interface, Trouble in Paradise should have something to offer for both fans of the original and those new to Pinata Island.