I won’t lie. When I first saw the trailer for Viva Piñata, I wanted it. As much as I really hate to admit it (in true girly fashion) I have a weak spot for cute, colourful things. And whilst I managed to just keep some dignity by staying rooted in CoD4 with ‘the guys’ (Masculine ‘Grrrr’) it’s true, I have my girlie weaknesses. Whilst I stood wide eyed at the TV in the shop whilst these soft voiced characters explained the game to me in all their rainbow coloured HD glory, all I could think was how much I wanted this game.
After spending an unheathly amount of time playing the first game, I was reeeally exited to hear about a sequel.
Firstly. Trouble in Paradise is just Viva Pinata. Now, the ‘just’ in there may make it sound like it’s a bad thing, but it really isn’t. VP: TiP is really just Viva Pinata 1.5. The same game, with many additions and improvements – you can’t even call them changes, since they’re all real improvements, some of them are the pettiest little things, but they all improve the overall gameplay. For example, you now have a seed bag as a shortcut just like your tools, and so saving you the many trips to Costalots store and avoiding her creepy offerings of ‘something seedy’…
In my opinion, these changes make the smallest things better – only now bringing to your attention that the old way was inconvenient. But basically the game is the same – even the villagers scripts are identical to the original.
Being open ended, it doesn’t have a story but the main ‘aim’ of the game is to fulfil requests – similarly to the first game. Only you can do these at your leisure. If you wanted, you could ignore them and do what you please. But a crate is constantly sat beside your garden, and when you’re ready you simply pack it up and away he goes.
The game has the addition of two new regions. These being the cleverly titled ‘Dessert’ and the equally witty ‘Pinarctic’. These areas are linked to your garden and you can travel here at the press of a button. Here you can lay traps and bait to capture a new species from that region. Once you do this, you must then release it into your garden and be pretty quick to meet its resident requirements before it leaves – otherwise you will need to trap another and meet those requirements all over again.
Another new feature is the card scanning system. TiP uses a feature in which if you are lucky enough to have a Live Vision camera, you can print out cards to hold up to it and this will instantly drop said piñata direct into your garden. If your camera isn’t too fussy that is, as this seems to be a bit of a fiddle at times. Or at least it has for me...
This feature even allows users to make their own cards, by literally capturing a piñata using the new in game camera mode and uploading it to the website for people to buy.
However, the piñata cards do have a downside. This being that all species are available online in card form and no doubt some people will just use these rather than actually playing the game through and working for the achievements, like I have, as tempting as it has been...
Another improvement is that the romancing mini games have had some changes made. Rather than just meeting up the two piñata, you must now collect a number of hearts on the way. The amount of hearts depends on how many of the species are currently in your garden. If you are aiming for the master romancer award for a species this can lead to you needing to complete the mini game within the time limit, on only one life and having to collect practically all hearts in the game. And trust me, this can get difficult. I’m not an angry gamer, but Christ this sent my controller flying on several occasions. And the patronising ‘Wa wa waaaaaaa...’ sound effect you get from failing does nothing to calm my temper..
Although the mini games are much harder than the original, they can have their rewards. Another addition is that of both twins and wildcards. These are determined by how well you do in the romancing game. Twins are worth more, and wildcards have a unique trait – as well as having their value hiked up a good chunk aswell.
One huge difference that is really noticeable from the original is the difficulty. TiP is much more punishing, and I mean much more!
Professor Pester is a frequent visitor. Every 15 minutes he’ll be there, eyeing up your favourite piñata. Providing you catch him early, you can prevent him doing any damage by buying him out. But this will only work as a very brief solution. He will be back. And once that dreaded logo is hovering over your piñatas head, there is nothing you can do. Ruffians now also have the abilty to break piñata, which is marvellous.
Another thing that will leave you shouting at your TV, are the weeds. There are many new kinds… All absolutely devastating. Once a weed has grown, if you hack it will drop more seeds that will all plant instantaneously, sprouting straight away. These are stupidly difficult to clear, and there is nothing more soul crushing that watching your Parmadillo beat you to a Hemlock flower and continue to crap sour sweets all over the garden. And I’m not even joking. Next thing you know you have 12 Hemlocks, even more poorly piñata and the Dastardos drifting toward you before you breakdown and sob under the stress.
Overall, TiP is a fantastic return with a greater difficulty. And despite my complaining about it, the game being more challenging is better.
Definite huge thumbs up from me. Although the achievements could be a little less harsh.
What? Don’t judge, it’s an important factor!