Viva Pinata (2006) by Rare

You already know that I get a lot of enjoyment out of life simulation games. Animal Crossing was my first foray into the management style planning genre and I have explored numerous other entries that project a similar mold. I considered included Roller Coaster Tycoon, The Sims, and even the recently released State of Decay 2 on this list, but none of them really struck a chord with me. At least not in the same way that Viva Piñata did. As a rough and tumble 16 year old, taking care of a garden full of piñata’s was not going to do me any favors in the popularity department. Unfortunately none of my friends decided to delve into the complex world building that Viva Piñata offered, and I still trouble to get my friends excited about my garden full of promiscuous piñatas. Ultimately, the game was too much fun to ignore and I played this game until I mastered it.
This Rare developed game was exclusive to the Xbox 360 and utilized a lot of the console unique qualities.  Some of the achievements required you to trade piñatas with your friends and some required you to use the Xbox Live camera in creative ways to expand your garden.  This was not a simple game even though it was based on a simple concept.  It really tried to do a lot with the simple concept of building a garden full of piñatas.

The game included a complicated ecosystem that encouraged you to pick and choose which piñatas to keep as permanent residents.  For example you need the worm piñata in order to attract the sparrow piñata.  However, the sparrow would then eat the worm piñatas before they would breed and create more sparrows.  So there was always this delicate balance between producing more of a piñata that you liked and then sacrificing it to another piñata so you could get more of them.  Nothing was ever simple in Viva Piñata and these ecosystems could dramatically change, grow, and expand and the delicate balance could shift if new piñatas entered the garden.

I had numerous notes that detailed the ideal layout for my piñata garden.  When I looked inside my game case I found a few of them just waiting to be realized within the game.  This game dominated my thoughts during numerous study halls and late nights.  This was also before I realized that the power of the internet could help me connect with other piñata fanatics and explain some of the finer details.  I was happy with my small garden with my favorite animals and trying my best to attract a new and rarer beast.

Rare did release a sequel to this game that expanded on a number of the mechanics from the original.  It added more customization, more piñatas, and a new mechanic to grow specific piñatas for quests.  These were all great changes and made the game smoother to play overall.  But nothing would ever come close to the ability to create a garden with piñatas that the original offered.  There was even a short lived television show that explored some of the piñata personalities on the island.  It was great and I had a few of the episodes from the Xbox Live Marketplace, they have since been mysteriously delisted…

For now the simulation crowd can look forward to Jurassic World:  Evolution.  And I love the Jurassic Park universe so this may be a new edition to my favorite games list soon.

Tomorrow please look forward to exploring Cloning Clyde, a game that I have a very special connection with.

Jake “prettyboyplaid” Fredericks

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