Viva Piñata: Corporate Marketing Scheme Gone Wrong, Or Genuinely Filled With Fun?

As it should be known now, Viva Piñata has become DKU once again and will always stay that way thanks to Loveday confirming that our lovable orange fish, Roysten, is in fact in the game. If you're a DKU completist, then two titles have just come out of the blue for you to purchase whether you like them or not: Viva Piñata for the 360, and Viva Piñata Party Animals, with a DS port coming "soon." In honor of the series becoming DKU, this Feature aims to arm those that have been unfamiliar with the franchise thus far with knowledge on how it began, how the games play, what it is, and most importantly, if the franchise is worthy of being in the DKU.

How it began:

Viva Piñata originally started as a PDA (not to be confused with the abbreviation for Public Displays of Affection) title with the codename "My Garden", which at the time the codename was revealed many thought was a reworked Donkey Kong Coconut Crackers.

Eventually the project evolved, and for that to happen a more powerful system was needed. Cue the Xbox. Fun DKU-Related Fact: There was a prototype of the game actually running within another Roysten-game: Grabbed by the Ghoulies. According to Gregg Mayles, the prototype was using "the Flying Imps as temporary 'piñatas.'" Soon after, the game went to the PC until they realized that they needed even more power. Cue the Xbox 360, and the game we have now.

Released games:

To date there are two VP titles: Viva Piñata for the 360 and the PC (the PC version being exactly the same as the 360 version) and Viva Piñata Party Animals.

Viva Piñata for the 360/PC has you taking a battered run down garden and making it active again by planting fruits, digging holes for lakes, and putting garden items to attract new piñatas in your garden. The more you do, the more you're rewarded for it and the more options show up. With these options come more Piñatas. Piñatas can be customized to fit your desires. They can change in color, sport accessories such as jewelry and the highly fashionable monocles, and more. You can also breed Piñatas, though in Rare style, the method in doing so is incestual for the most part, since once you have two piñatas in a garden, no more of that species will come into your garden from the outside. As their real life counterparts, Piñatas can be very susceptible to breaking, whether it's from Professor Pester (who's a real genuine bastard), Dastardos (the witch doctor who I told I was in love with you) or even yourself if you have a fetish for hearing kids cheer as the candy from within is released. Your goal within the game is to have the best garden in Piñata Island, and with a bunch of helpers to assist you with anything you need, the game really has the potential to become addicting. There's a reason why Viva Piñata is critically acclaimed in a time where hating Rare is the fashion, and it's because Viva Piñata has managed to be an engrossing game that brings back a time where every Rare title was anticipated by even the most die hard of critics.

Viva Piñata Party Animals is a party game developed by Krome Studios. Think Mario Party, only not as beaten to death (for now at least). Described in the manual, the most we get for "plot" in the game is that the game itself is actually a reality TV game show, and each participating Piñata is in it for the glory that comes with it. As in all reality TV shows, this involves a grueling series of contests such as…running and apple eating. I'm guessing Krome thinks that eating disgusting things a la Fear Factor would scare the kids too much.

As far as the actual gameplay goes, this seems to be targeted solely at kids with an easy learning curve, so unless you're really curious to how it plays or you happen to be a DKUer who actually managed to make a human being who likes to play games, Party Animals will probably not interest you in the slightest.

Upcoming games:

Viva Piñata DS is the only game that is slated to be coming out from the franchise, and even Rare themselves say that it will be out "soon." Adding new features such as Episodes, a Sandbox where you can access your Piñatas easily and Piñatas that aren't in the 360/PC version, this aims to bring the experience of the console games to the DS. The only downside is that there will not be any online trading as with the 360/PC versions. Rare's been keeping mum on this, with the site itself not even having a game page dedicated to it nor a publisher announced, so it may not be until late in the year where we'll actually get to play it for ourselves.

Content downloads:

As nearly every Xbox 360 game dictates, there is downloadable content for the 360 version of the game. They are as follows:

Accessory Pack 1: Vela Wig, Juno Wig (90 MS Points)

Accessory Pack 2: Mr. Pants Hat, Von Ghoul's Helmet, [Sexy Negro Chef] Soupswill's Chef's Hat (90 MS Points)

Accessory Pack 3: Mermaid's Earrings, Romance Earrings, Santa Hat (90 MS Points)

Viva Piñata Sweet Picture Pack (80 MS Points)

Viva Piñata Sour Picture Pack (80 MS Points)

Accessory Pack 4: Conga's Top Hat, Sunflower Hair Flower, Poppy Hair Flower (90 MS Points)

Accessory Pack 5: Pearly bracelet, Reading glasses, Springy-Eye glasses (90 MS Points)

Accessory Pack 6: Jiggy Earrings, Grunty's Hat, JamJar's Hat (90 MS Points)

Accessory Pack 7: Conkerrific Helmet, The Von Ghoul, Big Jolly Lips (90 MS Points)

A note before you go off buying these: Unfortunately, Microsoft has gotten it in their heads that paying for content that's actually on the disc is acceptable. Unless you really, really want Big Jolly Lips for your own reasons, they're not required to beat the game. It's a fucking shame that we have to buy content that's on the disc by default, but money's the root of evil and all the clichés that go with it. There was planned to be a download that would allow you to visit other gardens and vice versa, but sadly that was dropped, as the Viva Piñata team have stopped making content downloads for the game, claiming that they're working on something that we'd like more than downloadable content for the game. Whatever that means.

For those that had no idea what Viva Piñata is about, I hope this Feature has helped you somewhat in diving into the pool of paper mache that has made its way into the DKU once more. Thank you, good night, and beware of the Toothy Grinned Horstachio.

A look into the paper mache sensation that's sweeping the nation by Mark