Mark Mazzei

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E3 Hands-On Impressions

Following the Banjo experience during our New York gaming orgy, yet another Rare game was ready to be tested by our eager hands: Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise. Nearing the demo booth you could see the Piñata Vision cards on the table near the HDTV, with the friendly lady in charge of the demo just waiting to show us fans what the game had to offer. I then headed off to another HDTV with the game in motion to play my most anticipated sequel in recent time.

Summit in the City

As the lady at the booth herself said, Trouble in Paradise is a rather hard game to demo just because of how much is already there and implemented. As a result, this will be considerably shorter than Banjo’s impressions, but by no means any less important.

To recap, this is the bonafide sequel to the original Viva Pinata, complete with new piñata species and two new locations: the Pinartic, and the Dessert Desert.

The demo began with an already established garden in Just For Fun mode, filled with a few old piñatas like Crowlas and Galagoogoos, as well a couple of new ones, like a lizard piñata, for example. In the demo, it was preset with an unlimited amount of chocolate cash true to its name, so I wanted to try a few things out. I saw a new romance dance between said lizards, and while the 3D maze was not available for play, it did not take away the cool new dance as well as the brilliant legacy of music continued by Grant Kirkhope.

The new toys are a great little touch for the piñatas within the garden, such as the sour-like appearance of a blue car around the train tracks. What was more, according to the lady at the booth, the piñatas can interact with the toys. For this example, I chose the Crowla to ride on it. True to VP1 form, they don’t always listen to what you say, so while the lady guaranteed that I was able to do so in the final build eventually, it failed to listen to me.

One of the new toys

I asked her where the second game takes place, and she confirmed that it’s in a new place in Piñata Island, one where obviously new weather takes place. Unfortunately, data between the Piñata games can’t be transferred, so while the new piñatas take the spotlight with older piñatas coming into the game as time progresses, you can’t transfer the old piñatas between games. While not entirely disappointing, it would’ve been nice to transfer piñatas between games to interact in the new location.

Speaking of new locations, I got the chance to go to both the Pinarctic and the Dessert Desert. They’re actually very easy to get to. At two different parts of your garden, there are two signs. Highlighting them and pressing A will take you to either of those places. For the record, you can’t actually set gardens within the Pinarctic and the Dessert Desert. However, you can capture the new piñatas in their respective regions. In the non-garden regions, your menu is slightly changed. When pressing X, instead of having the menu in the garden (on which will be slightly elaborated later), there are less options. One option is the ability to access a store owned by a Lickatoad. Unlike the store owners in the town, he focuses on selling you traps and bait. One of the improvements of VP is that if a foreign piñata outside your garden is missing requirements, they have a transparent icon on top of them. For example, a Galagoogoo had a sad icon above it because it was lonely and hasn’t gotten any loving for a while (which I can relate to), and besides its tears of sadness, the icon also reflected that. So while at the Lickatoad’s store, I bought a trap and some fruit that the certain piñata wanted due to the icon above its head. One Ultimate Edition Trap and Four fruits later, the piñata was trapped and sent to the normal garden.

A trap for desertic species

Two more improvements have been made in the main garden. While it may be disappointing news to hear that you can’t actually have a garden in the snow or desert environments, you can actually make your whole garden snowy, sandy, or even a mixture of the two thanks to the new options available where you’ve gone in VP1 to sew seeds around the garden. Also new is the option to be notified of any events going on between the three locations every time. No matter in which location you are, if there’s something happening in the other two, you will immediately be notified of it without even having to go there first.

No VP2 impressions can be finished without a mention of Piñata Vision, and I must say I’m impressed at it. It’s safe to say that TiP will be available with cards pre-packaged with the game, as well as able to get a default pack of cards slowly within launch. This, as well as the already known information about printing out cards with barcodes and images of piñatas shows that Microsoft isn’t in this solely for the extortion, but is offering everyone to get piñatas, the weather, toys, and everything else in different ways. It was implied, if not directly stated, that you can only scan items of piñatas with their respective barcodes, no matter what medium. It was certainly happy news that the cards won’t be the only way to get piñatas, but merely another alternative. On the other hand, one has to wonder whether the cards are a double-edged sword, possibly providing laziness and having everyone get everything the easy way, thus maybe ruining the challenge and fun. However, that remains to be seen very soon.

As a huge fan of the first game, the demo impressed. There’s nothing here that’s worthy of complaint. Just more of the same with courteous features added, and that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. Familiarity is the key word when it comes to describing Trouble in Paradise, and I feel it can go for both old and newcoming fans of the game.

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