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"Viva Piñata": Enjoy Your Stay at Piñata Island, Unless You're Easily Bored

You’ve been given a plot of land on Piñata Island. What you do with it is all up to you. Your goal? Get as many piñatas as you can to call your little land home. Microsoft, Rare, and 4K!Ds TV have put together the bright and colorful world of Viva Piñata, but have we seen better sandbox games from others?

So, we have a video game review. This is a first for Toon Zone. Yet, when it comes to the game, we’ve seen it before. Collectible creatures with neat designs? Saw that in Pokemon, and countless spin/ripoffs. Your own little bit of land to do whatever with? Animal Crossing. Complete customization, but little control of the denizens? The Sims.

Game play is simple. You’re given a patch of land, the tools to improve it, and a simple goal: make it as attractive as you can so piñatas will take up residence. You can plant seeds, build residences, and call for the doctor. It’s similar to Animal Crossing in game play and to Pokemon in execution—if Rare were still on Nintendo’s side, you could easily have seen this as a “Pokemon Studies” game: capture Pikachus with love and land instead of battles and balls. But you’ll probably hit your fun limit only a few hours into the game. I got to a point where I said “Okay, I could go do this or do that, but… those Burger King games look interesting…”. Of course, this is a 21-year-old college student speaking, a guy who’s got multiple consoles and games (many still unwrapped), so your mileage may vary. I can see kids, the game’s target, having fun mailing packages to friends, trading items, and so forth, but as I’m the only one I know with the game, I’m going to have to skip on that extension of game play.

Controls are ridiculously simple when set on regular, and there’s a mode just for kids, so there’s no problem there. Sound and graphics are fine, very colorful, but on a standard definition, non-wide television (it is, uh, flat), the text sometimes gets hard to read. This is a problem in the HD-era, and it’s not the only 360 game with that problem. (I’m looking at the zombies of Dead Rising.)

The limited edition pack, which does not come in a standard DVD case, comes with a nice bonus disc. While it does have the failure demo of Sonic The Hedgehog (and the very cool Lego Star Wars II demo), both of these are easily downloadable on Live! Frogger, Marble Blast, Time Pilot, and Cloning Clyde Live! Arcade demos are available, but they’re in the same situation as Sonic and Star Wars.

There’s also a short episode of the series Horstachio Of A Different Color, whose high point is that it is, thankfully, short. To quote Family Guy: “I don’t really know what’s going on, but the colors are bright and there’s a lot of movement.” If this is 4K!Ds without having a source, I feel sorry for those who actually have that block. Hudson Horstachio is the most popular Horstachio on Piñata Island, but newcomer Hamilton seems to be getting all his gigs. Hudson goes into self-deprecation mode, while his friends try to discredit Hamilton.

Yeah. Didn’t end fast enough.

Kids will have fun with this. They’ll play it for a little bit, trade with their friends, and then go onto something else. The next day, they’ll pick it up, catch a new piñata, and continue. For the other college student, enjoy playing the game by yourself. I’m not coming back to trade piñata items.

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