Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise

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Pinata fans reverse-engineer barcodes

Hot Choclodocus action!

Enterprising heroes from the brilliant PinataIsland.info community have managed to reverse-engineer the Pinata Vision barcode system used in Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise.

Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise

Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise

Join the green party.

Viva Piņata really was filled with fun, but it was a guilty pleasure for many, some of whom claimed to buy Gears of War at the same time to save face. "This? This isn't mine. I bought the one about homoerotic camaraderie in the face of exploding underground lizard aliens." Hopefully everyone's overcome that now though, because Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise is just as good, if not better.

More of an expanded version of the original game than a sequel, Trouble in Paradise plays in much the same way. You take control of a scruffy patch of land and use a spade and a magical grass-seed packet to carpet the soil in greenery, and then plant seeds and dig ponds to attract a range of vibrant wildlife to live within the garden's borders. All the animals - including more than 30 new additions - want different things in order to take up residence, and different things again in order to mate, and once the tutorial phase is out of the way the game settles into a madcap rhythm of watering, sculpting, buying and selling to make and keep them all happy.

The piņata animals remain the stars, with new additions introduced at various points throughout the game. There are cuddly ladybirds, beetles, geckos, yaks, vultures, crabs, penguins, gorillas and others, all of which have been brought to life in gorgeous fashion thanks to Rare's beautiful pinecone paper finish, complemented by personalised animations, emotive faces and cute sound effects. The original piņata return with tweaked behaviour and requirements to integrate their new friends, and there are a few new ways to interact with them, including the Trick Stick, which allows you to recall a couple of showpiece moves for each piņata once you've fed or coddled them into performing for the first time.

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We loved Viva Piņata! But much as we loved Viva Piņata (and as much as we assaulted you with that love day after day for months afterwards), it's no secret it sold pretty badly. Over a million copies is decent going, but not quite the return you want after four years of hard slog. Certainly not if you're Rare, Microsoft's most expensive acquisition since the light - and everything else - went green on the Xbox project. So, we ask, beached on a futon in the bowels of Rare's idyllic countryside lair opposite two of the game's most senior developers, why do a sequel?

Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise dated

Out in time to show Spore who's boss.

Microsoft has announced that Viva Piņata: Trouble in Paradise will be released for Xbox 360 on 5th September. All you other games might as well give up now.

MS confirms Banjo and Piñata leaks, promises Gears of War 2 reveals

As we all sit around rubbing hoof-shaped marks out of our foreheads, Microsoft has whipped open the stable doors and explained what's going on at its event in San Francisco - confirming names and details for Banjo-Kazooie and Viva Piñata sequels among other things.

Big news first: Cliff Bleszinski will be on hand in San Francisco to show off "dramatic new gameplay elements" in Gears of War 2 using a "campaign sequence from early in the game - where Marcus Fenix and COG forces engage in pulse-pounding firefights between two Derrick transports, fend off vicious Reaver fly-by attacks and rabid Brumaks" ahead of the game's November release on 360. Ellie is currently checking her pencil batteries and sharpening her dictaphone, so expect her report on all that very soon.

What's more, Too Human developer Silicon Knights has announced that the game will be out in the US on 19th August and in Europe on 29th August, giving us the chance to stab futuristic vikings in the face with inadequately researched contextual comments [very post-modern - Ed].

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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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