2 Reviews

Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise

Tuck in to a big plate of maché

Gardening is pretty dull, unless you're mad, old or Bill Oddie. If you're all three, it's probably bearable. So you might not think it's the best pitch for a game. But then Viva Piñata comes along, full of dirty hoes, constant mating and general abuse of animals. Viva la watering can!

Smashing fun
This is basically a straight port of the Xbox 360 game - a mighty impressive feat in itself - that comes with a few extra bells and whistles. The biggest change is the stylus control, which works perfectly and makes boring jobs more bearable - cracking a piñata on the head, digging up barren ground and planting seeds are now that little bit more engaging.


The visuals have translated remarkably well to the DS: there are none of the ridiculously detailed 360 textures, but the overall feel of the game and the bright colours keep the feel of Viva Piñata wholly intact. Even the FMV and horrible sugary theme tune find their way in. It's a miracle of miniaturisation, and a real technical achievement.

Dig deeper
But despite the looks, the game itself is surprisingly complex. You'll build up a small patch of ground into a basic garden, then through attracting piñatas and buying bits and bobs it starts to snowball. This is where things start going wrong: piñatas fight each other, sour piñatas come in to ruin things for everyone, and there are one or two nasty types who turn up to mess about. A swift blow with a spade usually sorts them out, though.

It quickly boils down to micromanagement, but one of the best new DS features is a series of 'episodes' that tutor you in more advanced tactics. With some clever planning you can leave the small tasks to an army of helpers while you get on with the important things - like whacking the little buggers with your spade o' justice.

Pocket Paradise is one of the most engaging strategy titles on DS and, while collecting piñatas never becomes as life-consuming as something like Pokémon, it's unlike much else in gaming.

The verdict

A great port of a game that feels like it was always made to be played on the move - and with DS controls. Welcome back to the Nintendo fold, Rare!

Nintendo DS
Point and Click