Microsoft Game Studios Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

Breaking open a copy of Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is sort of like breaking open a real pinata: all sorts of syrupy-sweet treats come pouring out.

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Microsoft Game Studios Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
  • Microsoft Game Studios Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
  • Microsoft Game Studios Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
  • Microsoft Game Studios Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

Pros

  • Loads of sweet new pinata, new co-op and "Just for Fun" modes, improved graphics

Cons

  • Too much garden micromanagement, overly complicated menu system

Bottom Line

Getting your garden going sort of sucks but Trouble in Paradise is a charming title that's sure to please your gaming sweet-tooth.

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Breaking open a copy of Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is sort of like breaking open a real pinata: all sorts of syrupy-sweet treats come pouring out. But the sweetness in Paradise is soured by a lame gardening chores that ruin the taste of the hyper-bright visuals and cute gameplay. Still, when all's said and done, this is one party that's definitely worth attending.

Party Pooper

The devious Professor Pester has trashed Pinata Central's computer system, wrecking havoc on the systems that micromanage the world of Viva Pinata. His party wrecking ways have forced you to cultivate a garden and attract pinata to get the party restarted. It's up to you to get the indigenous pinata population to your garden by planting flowers, constructing homes, and scaring away sour pinata varieties.

Over 100 pinata varieties, more than 30 of which are new here, ensure there's plenty of work to be done, as you'll have to cater to each one's specific needs. The game packs in more sickeningly cute pinata pals than you could possibly handle and they look better than ever. Vibrant, detailed visuals draw you in like a Moozipan to the slaughter. Unfortunately, a couple of minor design issues cut into the otherwise sweet gameplay.

Green Thumb

The main problem is that making your garden grow requires an insane amount of patience. Planting a simple daisy, for instance, involves at least half a dozen steps and excessive menus complicate things unnecessarily. There are some much welcome shortcuts but managing your garden takes far too much effort. Streamlining the process would have gone a long way toward making the game more enjoyable; focusing the action more on the pinatas themselves would have also helped. Thankfully, there's a new "Just for Fun" mode largely gets around this issue by letting you hang out with pinata without having to do too much work. Joining up with a buddy for some coop gardening also alleviates some of the burden.

There are also some minor additions that attempt to sweeten the pot but they don't add too much. The new trick stick, which allows you to teach pinata tricks, and a wide range of toys are fun to play with, though. There's also support for the Xbox Live Vision camera which allows you to scan in special pinata cards, but it's a gimmick at best. Still, despite some irritating design elements, Trouble in Paradise is a fun game that retains the charm of the first Viva Pinata. It's sort of like trying to hit an actual pinata while wearing a blindfold-you'll be frustrated at points but it's still pretty awesome.

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