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Although It's Viva Pinata, It's Not That Great,
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This review is from: Viva Piñata Party Animals - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
What this game offers over the original Viva Pinata game is that it includes the actual characters from the Viva Pinata television series. You get variations on characters -- their alter egos, if you think about -- in both male and female versions, such as Fergie and Francine, as examples. The voices are a perfect match, and the pre-race and post-race commentary is exactly what you would expect from Viva Pinata.
This game, however, gets very repetitive, very quickly. After the first hour into the game, it became fairly obvious that there isn't much to the game. For the most part, you pick a "length", and that decision determines the number of races and challenges that you must complete. Once you complete a race, you complete one or more challenges, which are mini games that mostly involve button-mashing. Honestly, the "short" length is just the right length, with any other length getting extremely tedious. The game randomly picks the challenges, so you have no control over the sequence. In fact, during a medium-length game, I had to play the same challenge twice between two races. This gave me the opportunity to practice, of course, but the game should be able to track the challenges between races to avoid duplication and subsequent boredom.
From a control perspective, this game is a mixed bag. The races are easy to play, although my 7-year old daughter complained about the controls being too difficult for her. The mini-game challenges are a completely different story. Before each challenge, there is a summary screen that explains the controls and goals for the selected challenge. The game makes an effort, at times, to display on-screen control tips during the challenge (especially during any challenge that involves drinking soda and burping). But some of the "run and smash" challenges are difficult to control, and aiming in many of the shooting and smashing challenges is tough. At times, things are so frantic, you can't keep track of your own score and you don't even know if you're getting it right. Sometimes I'm surprised when I win the challenge.
What I like about this game are the achievements, which are quite creative and somewhat challenging to obtain. Although after an hour, you might unlock 20% of the achievements, there are quite a few that will require some creativity to unlock. It's not just about winning, all the time.
If it weren't for the multi-player (offline and online) aspect of this game, I probably would not recommend it. Fortunately, it has good replay value because of its multi-player modes. I would not recommend it for children younger than 9 or 10, since the controls are not always intuitive. It's a fun game with a few issues that make it less than perfect.