Behind the Scenes:Viva Piniata

by Stacy Code

One of the most unusual games in years is coming to the Xbox 360 this year, and although Viva Pinata is a daring reinvention of several completely different genres, what is even more surpising is the source of this game. Developer Rare Ltd. Rare's resume features some genre-defining games that fans defend, cherish and continue to play, including the classics Goldeneye 007, Killer Instinct, and Perfect Dark. Not content to simply push old licences into next-gen settings, Rare has invented a game that is as beautiful as it is addictive, and that is as quirky as it is playable. Microsoft staged a special preview of the game on September 14th at Vancouver's Bardel Entertainment, the animation studio responsible for bringing the 3-d CGI television show to the screen. Press were treated to an extensive tour of the studio including sneak peaks at all stages of the show's creation, a lunchtime screening of several un-aired episodes, and finally a hands-on crack at the game itself.

For those who are approaching this new brand as a total neophyte, not unlike myself when I stood at the doorstep of Bardel Entertainment's studio in downtown Vancouver, it is a next-gen game with echoes of community-sims like *cough* um... the Sims, Animal Crossing, and Zoo Tycoon. There is also a Pokemon streak through and through, where the small pinata creatures you draw and lure to your personally-maintained garden can be cared for, named, and bred. Where Pokemon started as a quirky handheld game and evolved into a marketing juggernaut spanning every conceivable medium and merchandising spinoff, Viva Pinata brooks the what-came-first,the-chicken-or-egg question as the animated show, hitting YTV (and Xbox Live Marketplace) in advance of the game's launch is a great standalone and, rather than just a tie-in to the console game, must be watched for its own merits.


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