Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise
With its bright colors, fun animations and cute piñatas, Viva Piñata was a real top game, although it wasn’t quite in line with the expectations of Xbox360 gamers. With Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise the franchise leaps onto Nintendo’s handheld, a platform where it certainly does belong!
The concept at least hasn’t changed: you start with a small garden filled with junk and try to make something nice out of it to attract different kinds of piñatas. The DS version comes with a very decent tutorial so that also newcomers can quickly get started. During the game itself you unlock more tutorial episodes that arrive in the Episode Mode so you can practise all you want.
From in the beginning it’s clear just how handy the touchscreen is. To move around in your garden you can use the fourpoint push button, but you can also go for pointing something at the edge of where you want to go or even use a virtual button that appears on the right bottom of your screen.
Also very handy is the overview you get by a simple tap on the upper left. Your garden is reduced in size and fully viewable so that by means of some icons you immediately see where which piñata is located or where a fight is going on. A simple double tap and you jump to the desired place. The interface is also excellent, in a square at the top screen you constantly are kept up to date with important events. Further you see also how your garden is set up: the percentage of short grass, water, dirt, and long grass. If you’ve clicked a piñata or an object you get more information about that. At any time, however, you can simple switch your top and bottom screen to for instance go look something up in the very user friendly encyclopedia.
The diverse tools and shops are hidden in an expandable menu at the top right of your touchscreen. As soon as you’ve chosen a possible action with an object it will collapse, making sure your sight is never hindered. Furthermore there are a number of little adjustments compared to the original like the boring minigames during romancing. Due to this the gameplay isn’t broken up anymore and you just need to bring the two piñatas together so they’ll do their thing without you having to intervene.
The romancing requirements are still present and can become quite labour intensive, especially with the larger piñatas. With the romancing candy you can easily circumvene these, however. One candy and they’re ready to go! Starting players will probably find this fun, while experienced ones might have found it a challenge to put so much effort into getting two piñatas to the point that they want to get into bed together.
Those that played the previous version will no doubt be bothered by the slow rising of your level. You need to put quite some time into the game before you get bigger piñatas. Although graphically everything is ok, you do not quite experience the same as on the X360. There are still images from the series and bright colors, but the cuteness did go away a bit with the port.
With this DS version also the little ones were thought of. As it can become quite complex to make your garden appealing for certain piñatas, there’s also a Playground Mode next to the garden mode. Here you can pick a garden to your liking and do whatever you want as even money is no longer an issue. A nice addition that clearly shows the makers realise that they’re working with a younger audience here.
Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise hits the bullseye. The controls with touchscreen are very good, both screens are used very well, the menus are clear and positioned where they need to be, … Thanks to the fantastic tutorial the game is accessible to everyone and with the Playground Mode even the youngest gamers amongst us can have a go at it. The disadvantage on the other hand is that experienced gamers who’ve played the original may find this DS port too slow and too easy. Still, even for them it remains a must.