Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise Review
There's no trouble in this paradise: The second Viva Pinata is just as captivating as the first, with enough tweaks and new additions to make this great for everyone.
- Great rewards system
- Pinatas are super cute
- Tons of depth and replay value
- Cooperative mode helps ease inexperienced players into the game
- Very impressive visuals, both technically and artistically.
- The same basic game as the original
- Voice acting is terrible.
The ultracolorful visuals of Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise hide a deep and engrossing simulation of what it must be like to pump papier-mache animals full of candy. Following on the heels of the deceptively addictive 2006 original, developer Rare has brought the whole cast back for a second tour along with a bevy of new pinatas and gameplay modes to complement your cultivating endeavors. A better tutorial and clear-cut objectives make this easier for novices to tackle their own gardens, and the intricate balancing act required to tame the more complex pinatas should delight seasoned players as well. The core experience may not have received a noticeable overhaul in the last two years, but the fictional animals are still so charming, and the rewards are so fulfilling, that Trouble in Paradise is even harder to resist than its predecessor.
There is actually a reason why you must capture and forcibly breed these lovable party animals this time: In an attempt to steal all of the vital data about the inhabitants of Pinata Island for himself, Professor Pester and his dim-witted associates accidentally erased the entire encyclopedia of knowledge. It is your job to repopulate these virtual pages. It's a thin excuse to get you back on the romance wagon, but it thankfully stays in the background after an early cutscene. You will still have to deal with the aptly named Pester throughout as he attempts to destroy your wonderful little world, but the overarching tale is largely forgotten after the first few minutes. Your gardening duties are interrupted only by the various movies that play each time a new character or pinata appears, or when you achieve a particular milestone, and these movies are usually so darn cute that they serve as rewards for your hard work.
Your gardening activities are indistinguishable from the original game. Pinatas are drawn toward your plot of land based on what plants are growing there, who else is currently calling it home, and what level gardener you are. After they appear, you can go into the encyclopedia to see exactly what you need to do to make them stay. Early animals require only a nice bit of soil or maybe one type of easily grown flower before they'll move in, whereas later ones will demand that you completely overhaul the terrain and provide a healthy portion of their favorite pinatas to eat. Once you convince the animals to stay, you'll have to go through even more steps before they'll procreate. It is a lot of work getting the higher-level animals to stay and breed, but it is well worth the dedication. The animals all have their own personalities, and once you catch sight of a lonely custacean scuttling along the beach, you'll want to rope it in and force it to make baby pinatas.
The biggest addition to Trouble in Paradise is a stream of challenges constantly pushing you to acquire new pinatas. There are various parties and celebrations going on all over the world, and you are asked to provide the candy entertainment. You'll have to capture a specific type of animal, make it happy so it is nearly bursting with tasty sweets, and send it off to foreign lands. This addresses the biggest problem with the original game. Before, you were left to your own devices and were forced to decide which pinatas to breed and how to sculpt your garden. There was no motivation, so if you didn't have your eye on a particular species, it was possible to lose interest in the entire experience. You can still go after whichever animals you most desire, but the challenges provide a push when you can't figure out exactly what to do next.
The other notable addition is two new terrains to tinker around with. You can warp to Dessert Desert and the Pinarctic to catch completely different types of creatures. You can't build in these areas, but you can lay down traps to bring these exotic beasts back to your land. This is where you'll find candy-filled varieties of penguins, vultures, yaks, and camels, among other creatures. Once you get them back to your garden, you'll have to lay down sand or snow to make them happy. These two areas are welcome additions because they provide a stable of animals completely different from the standard warm-weather set, but the act of laying out traps and picking up these terrified creatures from the post office isn't too exciting. Furthermore, the traps don't always seem to work right. Even though you can manually trigger them, certain agile animals will be able to escape even after you've bribed them with their favorite foods.
- Downloadable Game