STAFF REVIEW of Viva Piata (Xbox 360)


Thursday, November 30, 2006.
by Stephen Cameron



Viva Piata Box art How do I start writing this review? Oh, I know.This is the part where I fully admit that Ive never been so wrong about a game, ever. Folks, Im man enough to admit that Im totally in love with Viva Piata, and man, do I ever feel like a total Horstachios Ass (Little Viva humor there!) for being wrong about it. Why? Because, you have to understand that I saw this game at E3. I looked at it, I laughed at it, said a few unfair things and then moved on. It just seemed to me like a uber childish, and shallow game. Oh fudge, wrong again!

Never in a million years that Id expect that this title would later on, come back and lure me into its Piata lovin goodness. Im willing to bet you guys have never read a more personally involved game review intro? Probably not.

Anyways, on with the review. Its so easy to judge Viva Piata against its rather unsuccessful Rare bothers and sisters. But, believe me that its not Perfect Dark Zero, nor Grabbed by the Ghoulies, so please try do NOT make that obvious mistake. Although, I though Kameo was a rather good game, Viva Piata in my opinion, smokes it.


If youve ever played games such as Animal Crossings or Zoo Tycoon, then youll feel right at home with this game. But, I must warn you, give it a couple of hours before judging it. The main objectives of Viva Piata range from micro managing your way thru your garden growing plants, building shelters and babysitting various piatas, so that you can make piles of chocolate money, and level up your gardening skills to no end.

Why is this game so HOT? Because it just appeals to such a broad spectrum audience, period! Unlike Gears of War (Which I also love dearly), I have to wait until my twenty-two month old son goes to bed before I can start playing that bad boy, the wife doesnt seem to think that chain sawing an alien in front of him is cool, I dont see whats shes talking about (Just Kidding). Viva Piata on the other hand, I can play whenever hes around, and to some level its educational. Hes at the age that he can just barely talk, so I really enjoy hearing him say monkey or snake! He just loves to watch the humorous animals changing into various colors and evolving in to different breeds also. Its the perfect Dad game!

I dont think the game will get me watching the television show thats on the air now, but the game should give me enough insight to see if I should let my son watch it. I dont know if Microsoft was thinking in that direction, but its true. Plus, from what I was told, the show also gives tips for the game, thats nice.

The bad stuff: Ive had this dead Bunnycomb in my garden since the beginning of the game, and cant select it and get rid of it. Ive cleared everything around him, you name it. Its strange stuff. This is isnt a 100% perfect title, but honestly its so close. Another annoyance, is that the game chokes when it loads or auto-saves anything at all, this is especially frustrating because theres a lot of that going on. I double checked this with fellow Viva Piata gurus, and some have the problem and some dont.


The game progresses by gaining levels in your gardening skills, from what I heard that you can go all the way up to level 80, and then some!

On a side noteI have to share with you the most horrible death of a fellow Piata. I got a local visit from a dude called Professor Pester (a.k.a The Piata Mafia), and he whacked my $6800 Cinnamonkey, man was I ever pissed! I just thought Id get that off my chest. Now back to the review...

The most surprising part about Viva Piata is that once you've gained higher levels of experience, you keep them. Even if you start a new garden. Which means you carry over all you coins and all the items you've unlocked during the course of your previous gardens, so you don't have to start that all over again. Killer!

In game interface is simple, well thought out and very easy to navigate. Extremely intuitive, well done. Some people have complained about it being a little cluttered. But, everything cant please everyone.

As I was writing this review, I ventured online to check out the local community. I found two very helpful sites. The first one is called, Pinataisland.info, this site catalogs everything Viva Piata, game tips, the television show, even the MP3 of the theme song! The second one is the Viva Pinata Forums, here you can trade , talk to fellow gardeners. And the folks at both these place seem very cool.


Graphically, this game looks marvelous, it doesnt have the dark realistic look that Gears of War pushes, but Viva Piata pushes the 360 to a more bubblegum-ish look, bright colors, simple shapes, again, not gears but great looking graphics non-the-less.

In the sound department, the theme song of the television show and game is !&%$@#* catchy! Overall, the in game ambient sounds are actually pretty good. Im not a sound file by any means, but the sound really does a great job into making you believe that you have a living breathing garden full of Piatas.

The bottom line is, do not miss this gem in disguise in your Xbox 360 game collection. Get ready to be laughed at by your Gears of War jocks, but just remember you will have the last laugh when they start talking to you about The Tower of Sour! This is why Microsoft acquired Rare, because they have the ability to create rock solid creative titles like Viva Piata.




Suggestions:
For the love of god, please fix the auto-save, screen choppyness glitch. This is extremely annoying, because it does it way too much. Also, you've got a winner here, the possibility of making Live downloadable content, or an expansion pack or a sequel would be a great idea! On the Xbox Live front, the ability to show off your gardens to other gamers would also be a neat feature, so that other gardeners would be able to check out your layout.

On a final note. The way I look at it, Mexicans wack Piatas with an old broomstick handle, Americans wack'em with baseball bats, us canadians since we don't have much experience with these things, we'll just use a hockey stick of course!


Overall: 9.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.8 / 10
Visuals: 9.4 / 10
Sound: 9.2 / 10

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