Viva Piņata

Key events Podcast #117: Try Before You Dubai

Thoughts on Spec Ops and Peter Moore's F2P vision of the future.

It's Tuesday at 5pm, which can only mean one thing: we've managed to publish the Podcast on time on the right day for once! Thank you for your ears.

FeatureWho Killed Rare?

Did Microsoft ruin Britain's greatest game studio?

Through a locked gate, down a winding path and by a still pond a few miles outside of the leafy village of Twycross, England, a bonsai tree stands. It was a gift given to Rare by Shigeru Miyamoto, the most famous game designer in the world, as a thank-you for the game developer's critical and commercial success in creating games for Nintendo, the most famous game maker in the world.

Saturday Soapbox: The Madness of Release Date Congestion

FeatureSaturday Soapbox: The Madness of Release Date Congestion

It's Viva Pinata vs. Gears of War all over again!

This week marked the fifth anniversary of the release of one of my favourite Xbox 360 games ever made.

Viva Pinata was a cute and cuddly game where you planted seeds in a garden and then looked after the friendly animals who popped in to investigate the trees and plants that grew from them. There were 60 varieties to attract, each more delightful than the last, and as their ranks swelled you could sacrifice some to attract other, more exotic species in their place.

Of course, this week also marked the fifth anniversary of the emergence of another famous Xbox 360 series.

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Viva Piñata 2 details sprinkle out

Viva Piñata 2 details sprinkle out

Co-operate in more ways than one.

Viva Piñata 2: Trouble in Paradise will feature drop-in and drop-out co-op for you and a green-fingered friend, as well as fancy Live Vision support that scans physical cards to add unique content such as custom piñatas, fresh buildings and abilities, or even weather changes.

This is according to the forum posters on NeoGAF reproducing the contents of a Game Informer preview as well as divulging secrets from a separate trip to Rare.

The even cleverer part about this Eye of Judgement-like card-scanning system is that you can create your own codes on the Internet. These can be attached to piñata made by you (somehow - presumably uploading pictures using the in-game photo mode) and then shared on forums. The Live Vision camera is even said to be able to scan codes on iPod, Zune or LCD screens.

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Viva Piņata

Viva Piņata

A loving reminder that fun can be friendly.

We love violence around here. In the summer, we name all the ants crawling around the kitchen, marry them off and then squash them with a rolling pin called genocide. When cats get stuck in trees we send dogs up to retrieve them. We're not very nice people. But this time last year, even we found it hard not to fall in love with Rare's silly little game about building a garden home for cute little animals and then playing with them. The news that PC gamers can now share in our fun is jolly exciting, and even a week that saw Super Mario Galaxy, Mass Effect, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Crysis land on our desks found its evenings dominated by the soothing routine of coaxing and caring for things called Squazzils, Cocoadiles and Quackberries.

Viva Piņata pitches up largely unchanged from its Xbox 360 outing. Starting off with a crumbly plot of tattered land, you use a shovel to pat down the earth and smash up rubbish before laying down grass, planting a few seeds and watering them, and building houses for worms and sparrows - or Whirlms and Sparrowmints, to borrow from Rare's interminably saccharine Encyclopaedia of animal friends. (And why not "Pincyclopaedia", incidentally? Missed a trick, there, by the looks of it.) In a wickedly amusing twist, your first big job is making everyone have it off with each other in order to produce additional critters, and there's no barrier to having Mummy and Daddy abandon one another in favour of the pleasures of virtual incest, although the game - designed to appeal to children more than adults, in theory - obviously glosses over this.

A solid set of rules define whether animals visit your garden, decide to stay and are prepared to reproduce, but you're not told in advance how to attract them, which encourages you to experiment as the game opens up various options - new seeds, new garden furniture and varying animal homes among them. This you happily do, as each new animal is a lovingly crafted paper friend whose behaviour, homestead and mating dance is distinct from any other, and strangely delightful. Mothdrops live in giant lightbulbs, Quackberries live in a little pirate ship, and Doenut deers retreat to a flashy looking disco whenever darkness falls. Every sexing dance is backed by its own music and dance video, and one of the game's greatest strengths is that every one of its dozens of animal friends has been lavished with as much graphical and musical attention as any other.

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FeaturePC: 12 Games of Christmas

Oh look, mistletoe!

Stop clowning around; it really is bastardly cold out there. Still, it's good for one thing: keeping my PC from overheating. All I have to do is wrap up warm and open my window, then pop in one of these festively fantastic frolics and laugh away merrily - probably with a vat of mulled wine close-by to ensure I am well and truly smashed. I'm only giving it serious consideration because there are some games worth seriously considering.

Viva Piņata PC dated

Prepare your hearts.

Following on from yesterday's exciting news about Viva Piņata: Party Animals squaring up to roundly smash the hanging casket of our dreams over the fires of despair, Microsoft has announced that Viva Piņata will be released on PC on 16th November as well!

Rare questions Piñata marketing

Says MS favoured Gears of War.

Rare has questioned owner Microsoft and its decision to pour more money into marketing Gears of War rather than Viva Piñata, reports.

Games for Windows Live update

Games for Windows Live update

New features for upcoming games.

Microsoft has said that version 1.2 of its Games for Windows Live service will be spouted out across the Internet in November, reports.

It will let you obtain Achievements while playing offline and give you the ability to see if you can join friends in their games, along with some other user interface bits and pieces yet to be specified.

So far five games have been announced as supporting the updated service, including The Club and Universe at War from SEGA; Kane & Lynch from Eidos; and Gears of War and Viva Piñata from Microsoft.

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Moore defends Rare's Xbox work

PDZ, Kameo, Viva Piņata all good.

Microsoft's Peter Moore has paid tribute to Rare's recent product history, defending the Twycross-based developer against claims that its output has struggled to keep touch with the critical and commercial successes of its output prior to its acquisition by the Xbox platform holder.

Viva Piņata US demo

On Live now.

It's taken a while to happen, but Viva Piņata has finally arrived on Xbox Live Marketplace in demo form. Depressingly though, it's only available to US gamers.

Expect more Viva Piņata

Says top exec. On DS, perhaps.

Top men at Microsoft have said the firm aims to support Rare's brilliant Viva Piņata in future, and has even raised the possibility of the British developer's Xbox 360 games appearing on Nintendo DS.

Viva Piņata hats and stuff

Including a Santa one.

And so we return to one man's excitable quest to get you all to buy Viva Piņata, because it's great and I need someone to send me a crowla because I broke my last one.

FeatureA Rare pleasure

Eurogamer tours Rare, and delves into Viva Pinata's development.

According to Justin Cook, Viva Pinata's designer, they were just mucking about. "It's not a personal attack," he says, stifling a laugh. "It's just something funny that was happening at the time and, well, we thought..."

Rare has popped some more Viva Piņata accessories onto Xbox Live Marketplace, giving you the chance to dress up your piņata with hats borrowed from Mr Pants, or Grabbed by the Ghoulies' Baron von Ghoul or Ma Soupswill.

Viva Piņata

Viva Piņata

Filled with fun! Like, actually.

If you'd asked me a year ago what I thought the first bit of Viva Piņata would be like, it's very unlikely that I would have guessed correctly that Earthraper and Soilhumper would have given birth to Conceivedinsin, and that I would then get Earthraper to have it off with Conceivedinsin to bring Incestibrate into the world, and then flog Soilhumper to a dodgy old lady so I could buy a lamp, before serving Earthraper and Incestibrate up to Flutterface and Gallantflaps so they could do the deed and produce Wingwrong.

After all, none of that makes sense. So let me translate: in the first hour that I played Viva Piņata, I got the worms I was encouraged to name and nurture to have sex multiple times, including with their own children, and then sold one of them to a hag and fed the others to sparrows because that's the only way to get them to go into their little birdhouse and pound the headboard.

This, by the way, is Microsoft's first attempt at a kids game for Xbox 360.

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Viva Piņata is region-free

(And filled with fun.)

"It's horse party time!" is the cry that's going out as we discover that our US copy of Viva Piņata works fine on a PAL Xbox 360. We thought you'd want to know.

Viva Piņata first downloads

Some hats. 90 points.

Viva Piņata may not be out here until 1st December, but the game's launch in the US has prompted the game's first downloadable content.

Viva Piņata Euro date

Microsoft confirms.

Microsoft has confirmed what retail suggestions yesterday led us to conclude: that in light of Viva Piņata's having gone gold, the game will appear on European shelves on 1st December. The US version is out on 9th November.

Viva Piņata finished, dated

Rare's latest off to the shops.

Viva Piņata is finished and off to be manufactured, Microsoft announced last night, meaning that those of you in America will be able to buy it on or around 9th November.

Viva Piņata video on Live

Sort of interactive, too.

Want to learn about Viva Piņata? Then read Ellie's preview, which explains how you attract piņatas to come and live in your garden, how to fend off nasty piņatas, and how to make everyone sex like bunnies.

Viva Piņata

Another big hitter for Rare?

What do you get if you cross The Sims, Pokémon and Ground Force? A hundred million billion pounds, that's what.