Thursday, 30 May 2013

Don't beat 'em, join 'em - about Viva Piñata

Why, yes, I am back. And I say; let's talk about Viva Piñata.

The games are just about the most beautiful thing to ever grace the Xbox 360. And maybe PC and DS too. Quirky, colourful, and creative, it's a sort of simulation game where you basically build a garden which attracts live animal piñatas. If they like your garden enough, they take residence and you can build them houses, name them, even dress them up in cool costumes, romance them so you can get more of the same species, to eventually send them to a party. (These functions were a lot more elaborate in the sequel.) Meanwhile, Professor Pester and his ruffians and sour Piñatas attempt to wreak havoc.

Some of its best points, to me at least, are its colourfulness, and its heavy stylization. It's not meant to be realistic. Instead, everything is vibrant and charmingly cartoony, and adorned with nifty patterns. From the smallest flower to the biggest tree - even the grass. But somehow, it is still believable, something Rare is very good at. They dare to be different, and that's exactly where its charms come from. Aside all this, it has a lot of shout-outs to past Rare games, which is awesome.

And of course, the music. The amazing soundtrack as composed by Grant Kirkhope, who also composed Banjo-Kazooie's and Donkey Kong 64's soundtrack, is both whimsical and atmospheric. I'm not exaggerating when I say it made me cry sometimes simply because it is so beautiful.

I have been mesmerized by this lovely game for years now, ever since I got the original on the PC, and later bought an Xbox 360 and played Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, its sequel. Lately, I've begun picking it up again and I'm having the most fun I've had in quite a while. Trouble in Paradise can be considered as some kind of 'expansion pack', as it has everything from the original game, but more, such as over 20 new Piñata species, more things to do, new regions like the Piñarctic and the Dessert Desert, and a lot of new items. Even if it's a standalone game.

So anyway, beautiful games. But the real reason I picked it up again was because a group of friends of mine I know from role playing on Tumblr were all excited about it, and chatting about it on our Skype group. I remembered I had the game as well and I played it again. But what they were also quite enthusiastic about was the animated series. Yep. I originally dismissed it because I had the dreadful 'hurr hurr, it's not the same as the games so it sucks!' attitude. You know, the same thing people think about the Donkey Kong Country cartoon, which I'm presumably one of the biggest fans of. Now I've lost that attitude, which is for the better.

Anyway, I heard good things about it and decided to check it out - with the open mind to end all open minds.

After having seen only one episode, I was hooked. It was no Donkey Kong Country.

In fact, I daresay I liked it better than Donkey Kong Country.