Don't look if you don't want to know!
It's not often that the DS gets to stomp all over the Xbox 360 (unless you live in Japan, in which case it's all day every day that the DS gets to stomp all over the Xbox 360), but when it comes to Rare's lovable gardening strategy game Viva Piņata, Microsoft's multi-core lounge-dweller can definitely count itself muddied by the Wellington-shaped boot-prints of its dual-screen contemporary. Viva Piņata: Pocket Paradise lives up to its name, although it certainly hasn't spent much time in my pocket.
First, and most important, is that Rare has been able to recreate the Xbox 360 game on DS almost entirely. Beginning with a patch of rubble-strewn land, you're given a spade, a watering can and brief instruction, and left to clear and turf the place over. But no sooner have you begun to clear up the mess than small animals start to take an interest, and within an hour the compelling conflict of interests is established: whenever you think you're getting the garden looking nice, another piņata animal pops up and charms you into re-sculpting and cultivating your land to fulfill its requirements for residency and then breeding. And then another. For hours.
On Xbox 360, Viva Piņata relied on cute animations and a wealth of things to do in order to keep the player occupied, and while the garden area is smaller on DS, there are actually a few more creatures, and the pace and mechanics of gameplay are intact and finessed thanks to the second best thing about Pocket Paradise: the new touch-based controls. Simple actions, like moving apples and crates around the garden, or planting seeds, are as simple as dragging and dropping with the stylus. Grass is simply drawn on the screen, and to direct animals you just tap them and drag the stylus tip to a suitable location. Basic tools and their actions - like the spade's tap, smack, plough and pond-digging - are all within your control after a couple of super-quick stylus' taps on logically-positioned icons, and while your stylus hand taps away your thumb uses the d-pad or face buttons to move the camera.
Rare has told Eurogamer that Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise will bloom in Europe on 5th September.
You won't catch anyone at Rare calling it a homecoming. Or a departure, for that matter. Even though Rare's remote Twycross base of operations, nestled deep in the gentle folds of the Warwickshire countryside, is dripping with memorabilia of its days as a Nintendo-owned first-party developer, none of its down-to-earth staff harp on about the old days.
Developers working on Rare's Viva Piņata game for DS have commented that Microsoft, which owns the UK studio, respects the handheld from rivals Nintendo.
Rare has revealed that it came within inches of making Viva Piñata DS and upcoming Xbox 360 sequel Trouble in Paradise work together.
Microsoft believes working with the DS will help it design shorter and more casual games that are perfectly suited to Live Arcade.
Rare has confirmed that it will not produce any further downloadable content for Xbox 360 title Viva Piñata, GamesIndustry.biz reports.
Rare has revealed that Viva Piņata on DS will be a "full-size Viva Piņata game in your pocket" rather than some cheap approximation, and is being developed in-house. Good!
That means that you'll be able to take over a rundown garden and build it up by laying down grass, seeding plants and trees and working to attract local animals - piņata - to come and make it their home. And then "do" one another rampantly.
Writing on its website, the Twycross-based developer said the DS title would be completely stylus-controlled and include "not only the entire range of paper beasts from the Xbox 360 title, but also a few new ones thrown in to spice things up for those familiar with the established cast".
Rare's garden sim takes shape on DS.
Rare has told an audience at Comic-Con that Viva Piņata is coming to Nintendo DS!