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on November 20, 2006
In Viva Pinata you have inherited a garden in a fantasy world populated by living pinatas and an assortment of odd characters. Your mission is to build your garden to attract pinatas to live there. Everything you grow in your garden, including the pinatas, vegetables, flowers, and trees, can be sold for chocolate coins. You can use the coins to buy more seeds and grow more plants or to otherwise improve your garden. Viva Pinata is like a cross between Pokemon and The Sims and virtual pets, but I found that the result is greater than the sum of its parts!

This is a sandbox game of the best sort. You can make whatever decisions you want to and your garden can look however you want. You have the ability to dig ponds, grow grass, build houses for your pinatas, and all sorts of other activities that I am still discovering several hours into the experience. The decisions you make about how your garden develops will determine the kind of pinata who want to live there. The open-ended nature of the game is its best feature, and it really makes you feel like you are in control of the game's environment. The feeling of empowerment that kids receive playing Viva Pinata is enhanced by the excitement of constantly finding new things to do and play with.

I am impressed that a game that is so easy for kids to pick up is also so complex. My daughter is nine and was familiar with the controls and basic concepts within a half-hour. Yet the underlying concepts of the game are complicated. The skills I see her working on in this game primarily have to do with resource management, which as we adults know is critical for daily life. You have a limited amount of space for your garden (just like in real life), yet if you are not organized in your approach then the garden will quickly become a place of chaos. Kids will also learn the concepts of working to make money and how to budget for the next big item they need to improve their garden.

As other reviewers have stated, this looks like a game for kids, but it will suck an adult into its world just as easily. I couldn't wait for my kids to go to sleep the first night so I could start on my own garden. Time is greatly accelerated in the game, and the result is that you are very busy - you may suddenly look up from the game and see that a few hours have passed in the real world almost as quickly. The pinata are just the right amount of cute so that they are fun to watch, not annoying. There is no lull in the action for at least a few hours, at which time you may have been able to hire some helpers to take off some of the pressures of a big garden, such as watering and gathering your sellable items. This too is a good introduction to kids of the concept of people management. Lots of times you have to tell your helpers what to do, rather than just letting them do their own thing. Otherwise, their priority list is typically different from yours and those plants that you just planted may die because your helper was busy watering something less important.

Viva Pinata has way too much to offer to cover it all in such a short review. The environment is incredibly well done, from the sounds to the graphics. The game play is very addictive. Playing Viva Pinata actually got me excited to go out and do lawn work in the back yard! For parents wondering if this game is suitable for their kids, I will say that I am picky about what I let my kids watch and play and there is nothing here which offends me. There are all sorts of euphemisms around breeding pinatas (they call it "romancing") that sound very innocent but will make the adult chuckle. It is very tastefully done. And there is no doubt that your kids will be using their brains a lot more while playing this game than while playing the typical platform-style kids game. This is exactly the kind of game I was looking for to provide my kids with an enriching, non-violent video game experience. If Viva Pianta is an indication of the future of kids video games then the future is very promising.
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on November 12, 2006
When I first heard about this game, it reminded me of Animal Crossing for the Nintendo Gamecube. I never liked Animal Crossing because the game was just a bunch of item collecting.

I'm glad to say that Viva Pinata is 100% better than Animal Crossing. You're basically building an ecosystem of pinatas in the game, there are alot of tradeoffs based on your actions.

You're even capable of sending items from your garden to people on your Friends list, which is a neat extra feature.

To give you an idea of how fun and addictive this game is, I bought Gears of War earlier in the week (one of the best games I've played in a long time) ... and I ended up playing Viva Pinata instead of Gears over the weekend.
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on December 9, 2006
Viva Pinata - where should one begin on describing the game's deepest complexities? In layman's terms - Viva Pinata is not just a kid's game. In fact, it requires higher thinking and could easily be problematical to younger audiences. I've been playing this game for a few weeks now, and while I'm not playing it religiously, it's still wickedly addictive.

Many people are referring and comparing Viva Pinata to Nintendo's Animal Crossing. While the games are similar in many facets, they're just as different as they are the same. I was never a fan of Animal Crossing, never. I traded the game almost immediately. After all the hype, acclaim and positive reviews, I thought Animal Crossing would be a very safe bet. I was wrong.

After reading about Viva Pinata, I thought this would be Animal Crossing all over again, so I approached very cautiously. Again, much praise and positive reviews. So, I took the risk. This time however, it was a purchase I'm more than happy with. There's many more possibilities with Viva Pinata. Read the following to hear details about the game itself.

First and foremost, the concept behind the game is the driving force of its greatness. You construct, manage and watch your very own ecosystem flourish before your very eyes. This is no cakewalk however, if you fail to manage your garden correctly, you'll find yourself having to improve the conditions in order to advance. Secondly, the graphics are sheer amazing. Some real eye candy here. It doesn't get much better than this visual wise. If you're in a position to buy a game for the entire family, there's no better fit than Viva Pinata. If you're into complex and challenging games, and are looking for something to break away from your typical run-of-the-mill FPS or RPG, you'll find Viva Pinata a great getaway.
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on November 7, 2009
Okay this is a good game, it's fun, I could sit and play for hours without getting bored. The problem is, it's not worth it to buy this game now that Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is available. Trouble in Paradise streamlined the interface issues and added content, but it basically the same game. I found this out after I ordered both Viva Pinata and Trouble in Paradise and had to go through the hassle of changing my order. As it stands both games are about the same price so there's no reason to buy this title unless it's much cheaper than the Trouble in Paradise edition!
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on December 23, 2006
I bought this game for my girlfriend so she would have something to play instead of watching me play the usual splatterfest (COD2, GOW, Dead Rising etc.) Next thing I know, we are both playing it and I can't believe i'm even a little addicted to it. If you have a significant other who's even remotely interested; BUY IT. It's easy enough for all ages but complex enough for us older folk as well. This game has ended up being alot of fun for us and something we can play together. Now if I can only get her to play GOW co-op we will be all set..lol.
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VINE VOICEon January 31, 2007
This game is a lot of fun. I'm a dad, and I have a 5-year old daughter. I have been playing my own garden and have been helping my daughter with her's. This game is generally kid-friendly.

Open-ended games can sometimes get boring, but so far, after countless hours of playing since Christmas, I'm not tired of this game yet, and I still have a lot to discover and explore. The game has sufficient guidance -- meaning that the characters will guide you through some of the gameplay, and there is a journal that contains a wealth of information. If you need to look anything up, the information is readily available...and the information is only specific to your current game.

Graphics are great -- it's very three-dimensional and realistic, and the various pinatas all have their own personalities. They do the things you expect that kind of animal to do. In terms of "real-time" play, the game engine does a great job of tracking multiple things...pinatas "romancing", plants growing, other pinatas visiting...etc. There's a lot going on in this game, and at times, it can seem quite overwhelming. But that is part of the challenge.

In terms of challenges, there are a lot of "achievements" to reach. It takes quite some time to reach some of them, but this extends the playability of the game. The randomness is good -- you can create different gardens and handle them differently, and you get different results. This was evident with my daughter's garden, when she attracted Pinatas that I had not attracted to my garden. Different combinations and different variables yield different results.

There are some bugs in the game, and at times they can be quite annoying. Pinatas sometimes get stuck between items, things get in the way of other things, etc. I'm also not happy with the "transitions" between opening menus, but I guess this is "eye candy" added so that the system can load data in the background. Sometimes I just wish it would run "faster".

There are a lot of things to try, and a lot of things to find. Overall it is a great game with great long-term playing potential. It's not perfect, though, and I find it odd that some of the problems that so many other people report made it through their quality testing.
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on December 8, 2006
I bought this game on a whim being a fan of Animal Crossing. I was worried that it would be childish and a waste of money. Now I find myself drawn into the "donut of life".

I am typically not the gardening type, but this game is extraordinary. You are required to not only garden, maintain species, and help in the evolution of species but you also have organize labor.

While I think that this would be a great game for an older child who wouldn't be disturbed by the death of pinata and could understand the concept of the "romance dance" between pinata (those scenes are a little iffy even if they are intended to be benign). I think that the average adult would also be easily drawn into this one.

Cooperative play over XBox Live is also useful for trading pinata and meeting other gardeners! Viva Pinata!
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on May 12, 2007
All of my family members love this game, it offers a continuing environment of change and entertainment. Even company that comes over seem to want to try it out and end up loving it too. We also sit and watch each other expand our green thumbs in Viva Pinata as well.

There is lots do do in this game, and learning involved as well. Because you have to consider chocolate coins as your currency math is involved. As well as many other aspects of learning it is simply fun. Try it out.

We highly reccommend this game to all families. I did not innitially want this game, I was coaxed into getting it for my child and am glad we did. You will be too if you purchase it.
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on January 12, 2007
When I first heard about Viva Pinata I had no intrest. I am agrown man , what do I want to play w/pinatas for? Well let me tell ya, this game will suck you in if you arent careful. Onceyou get past the beautiful but very cartoony graphics you will find a fairly deep strategy game.I actually think this game is way to complicated for the age group the acrtoon is aimed at. Lots of resource management , figuiring out which pinatas can live together and which ones eat each other. Lots of fun, very deep, and pretty complicated. This game has no real story line and is lite on the help but if you invest your time you'll have a blast.
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on June 2, 2007
This game is really fun and takes some strategy to find the right balance. Fans of SIM style games should enjoy the planning and management of your garden. I thought this looked like a silly kid game but it is very involved and seems to be fun for anyone. Rare makes great games and this is up there with their best.
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