I thought it would be fun to jump back into Rare Replay for this week’s Random Game Wednesdays. I had to consult the random number generator twice since it gave me Cobra Triangle the first time. But on the second try, it gave me the sequel to one of Rare’s weirdest but extremely entertaining games, Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise.
Usually for these posts, I start a fresh save file in whatever game I’m playing. This week, I decided to just hop right back into the file I had started back when Rare Replay first came out. Unfortunately, Viva Pinata is a difficult game to just go back to. There’s a lot of systems at play and everything can seem really chaotic, especially if you don’t really remember what you were working on before.
It’s easy to look at either Viva Pinata game and assume that it’s a simple game for children. Everything is bright and colorful and the characters are cute, living pinatas. However, I don’t actually know who this game was targeted towards. It’s a fairly hardcore sim game with so much going on that I don’t think most kids would be able to keep up.
In Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, you are the gardener tasked with tending to a garden to attract pinatas. In the early going, you’ll get Whirlms, which are basically just worms. As you plant certain kinds of plants or buy certain decorations, you’ll attract other pinatas. Pinatas can even attract other pinatas. For example, Sparrowmints, a bird pinata, will visit your garden because it eats Whirlms. If you’ve played the popular mobile game Neko Atsume, it’s kind of like that except with a lot more stress.
While playing today, two of my pinatas got into a fight, a Bispotti and a Sweetle. Both of these are insect-like pinatas, and honestly I have no idea what they were fighting about. After the fight was over, the Bispotti was left sick and could have died. Thankfully, I had just unlocked the doctor. By selecting my sick Bispotti and paying 36 chocolate coins (the currency in the game), the doctor drove out and saved my Bispotti’s life. Was that worth it? I’m honestly not sure. I have a few Bispottis, so I don’t know that I really needed to save this one. But I did, and it’s cool that that’s an option.
I also unlocked a new shop today, called Bart’s exchange. By going into the menu and hitting “shops”, you can go to several different shops, including this new one. Bart tells me that he can change my items into better items, and that there are three different tiers of how good those items can become. I don’t really get it. I tried to upgrade an item, but it didn’t seem like I had any. So I went to a different shop, bought a hollow log out of the “item” category, and then went back to Bart’s to try to upgrade it. It didn’t work. I don’t know if I just don’t get what counts as an “item” or if only certain items can be upgraded or what, but I wasn’t able to do anything with this shop.
One of the ways to get more pinatas is to breed them, or “romance” them as the game calls it. In order to romance, you need to meet a few conditions. I decided to romance a couple Bispottis. In order to do that, I needed a Bispotti house in my garden, which I already did, and each Bispotti had to eat a daisy. I had plenty of daisies nearby, so I simply directed two of Bispottis towards the flowers and they ate them right up. Now, they each had a heart above their head, indicating that they had finished the requirements to romance. I directed the two towards each other and off they went.
Once romancing starts, you have to complete a minigame. It’s pretty simple. You control one of the two pinatas and have to run through a maze to get to the other one. Along the way, there are heart tokens you can pick up, but you have a limited time to reach the end, so you have to decide whether it’s worth getting the tokens or not. I’m honestly not totally sure what the tokens get you, but it was easy enough to grab them all on my way. According to the text before I started the minigame, this gets harder each time you romance the same species.
After completing the minigame, the romance can truly begin. Your two pinatas will perform the romance dance, a goofy little cutscene of the two dancing together. Afterwards, a pinata egg will be delivered to your garden, and soon after that, you’ll have a brand new pinata. It’s the miracle of life!
Every once in a while, a sour pinata will show up and try to mess things up. According to Leafos, who’s kind of your guide to the game, they show up when you’re doing particularly well just to throw you off. In this case it was a Sour Shellybean, a snail pinata. It picked fights with my Whirlms, so I had to stop it. It’s my understanding that you can tame sour pinatas by meeting their residency requirements, but I just took out my shovel and smacked it around until it burst open.
There’s a lot more going on in Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, but I’m not even going to pretend that I know how they all work. There’s other zones, like a desert and a snowfield where you can trap pinatas that only live out there. There’s also quests to get certain pinatas and send them off to children’s birthday parties. I didn’t deal with any of this stuff today, so I can’t speak too knowledgeably about them.
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is great. It’s a really weird game that will surprise you as much as it will stress you out. I can understand why an adult would be turned off by it at first glance, but I say play it anyway. It’s a game that’s appropriate for kids, but it’s not a kids’ game. If you have Rare Replay or run into a copy of the game for Xbox 360, you should absolutely check it out.