Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise Reader Review
The critically acclaimed series and Rares gem Xbox 360 game is hitting the DS. But is this Pocket Paradise any good or does it reek of a lazy ported game?
In short this game is a mix between SimCity, Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon and Tamagotchi Virtual Pets. The task of the game is to design a garden for wild Piniatas to inhabit. You can change the design of the garden by covering it in grass, adding lakes, adding sandy areas or even sectioning parts of the garden off like a zoo. The more things you modify about your garden, the larger the variety of Piniatas you�ll get.
The beginning of Pocket Paradise can be a total drag, especially for fans that have already played the Xbox version of the game. There is a lengthy tutorial that covers things from how the menus work even down to what use a garden shovel has. To the new people of this series it may be necessary; boring and lengthy but necessary. But the fans of the series will be thinking thank you captain obvoius, we don�t need Horstachio or who ever the hell that was telling us you can dig stuff in your garden with a garden shovel. See, we just want to play the game. The worst thing about the tutorial for fans of the game? You can�t skip it. Skip, this is boring. Skip, argh!
Sticking with the theme of the beginning of Pocket Paradise, the garden is awefully small. Whilst this can be considered a strong point of the game - that it does not throw you in the deep end right from the get go, I would liked to have seen the garden a bit bigger from the start; as it can get claustrophobic in the small confines of the garden provided during level 1. Also the selection of tools initially on offer did criple our ability to design the garden in mind.
After a while of modifying your garden, Piñata creatures start to roll in. They must love to flirt because each Piñata likes to play� �hard to get�. From time to time you�ll see a new type of Piñata eyeing up your garden, like it�s a girl that�s casually into a guy staring at his erm, feet, hands and house. So the house will probebly have to be kept in a certain way to make her feel comfortable in his bachelor pad, the same similar rule applies to attracting Piñata creatures in your garden; as each Piñata creature has specific requirements, either a certain percentage of your garden be grass, certain plants need be in your garden or some kind of pond etc.
The information about Piñata�s is easy to reach and very useful thanks to the brand new Piñata encylopedia this game houses in it�s menu. Just a tap of the Piñata and bam! Informaation is on screen. A simple menu navigation and bam! Even more useful information about tha Piñata is revealed. So now getting that elusive Piñata is that bit easier.
The controls are easy and intuitive. The touch screen selects/ uses your tools and navigates the menus as well as viewing Piñata�s and to pan around the garden. The d-pad, B, A, Y and X are used to also look around the garden. The controls work well and the touch screen makes navigating the menus faster then the Xbox 360 version.
We heart shortcut buttons - xXx, see? Toadie reguarly presses Start + Select L + R to reset his DS games rather then switch his machine off and then back on. Shortcuts make the world a faster place. But what does that have to do with Viva Piñata? It would have been great if the game designers had put the ability to put items on a shortcut button. For instance; we might be making a grassy area in our garden, for that we�d have to navigate the menu and take out the shovel - do what we have to do and then navigate the menu again and take out the grass, where as with a shortcut button we�d have to only press a single button to get the shovel out and another to get the grass out. Solution! Even quicker, even simpler, but sadely; absent in the game. :(
In the end the goal of Viva Piñata is to have fun interacting with your Piñatas, so once that ends so will the fun. And that was a problem with the Xbox version aswell; the joy of discovery will eventually wear thin. There are challenges that�ll keep you buisy, rare and shiney Piñata�s to unlock but it does eventally start to wear off. The game sounds amazing with a ton of voice-overs taken from the Xbox version. The wether effects sound really cool aswell, from the pouring rain to the sunniest day it all sounds amazing. Also there are random Piñata noises you�ll hear from your garden - which will immerse you into your pocket paradise.
Another triumph is the graphics. The game looks excellent from the beautifally designed Piñata models to the amazingly designed sprite layers and sprite work. One final note to add to Viva Piñata Pocket Paradise is the playground mode. Fewer handcuffs, fewer restraints - you can jump into a pre-made garden with no cash and just add whatever Piñatas you want. Younger players will apriciate it�s simple nature while Viva Piñata fans will have fun experimenting here.
Pocket Paradise is an excellent take on the Xbox versions of the game, now dressed up for the DS. This is Rare�s best DS effort. Go out and buy.
8 / 10