Viva Pinata is an absolute must-have game for anyone who's ever experienced the guilty thrill of beating their pets to death with a shovel. And really, isn't that all of us?
There's an animated series that goes with this game. I haven't seen the series. I don't intend to see the series. I have the definite suspicion that the series does not focus on breeding adorable animals, dressing them up in a variety of accessories, giving them lovable names, and then beating them savagely with shovels until their sweet candy-flavoured brains spew forth onto the soil.
Which, really, is a shame, because the whole shovel-beating thing is gameplay gold.
I think Viva Pinata was conceived as something for kids. I don't mean baby goats, but instead those little mewly human-things that come out of pregnant women. Some executive somewhere saw a wiggly dirt-child playing with a pinata and decided that this should be the basis for a cheap Pokemon knock-off.
This executive, who we shall call "Winston", went out and got some art assets drawn up, and recruited what he laughingly referred to as "voice talent", and had some hideously grating music prepared, and then turned the whole thing over to a game developer.
It is to the good fortune of shovel-wielding pet-lovers everywhere that the developer in question was Rare.
In my imagination, which is a wonderful place filled with leprechauns, Rare sat down with Winston's material, and tried to fashion it into the saccharine money-pig that had been intended. Oh, how they tried. Their brain meats strained mightily. But they failed. These kings among developers, these hallowed perpetrators of Conker's Bad Fur Day, just couldn't find it in themselves to make the pastel monstrosity they had been tasked with.
And so they made a different game. And that game is Viva Pinata.
Sit your kids down with Viva Pinata. They'll love it. You can test whether they love it by buying them a kitten. Kids who have learned the correct lessons from Viva Pinata will give their kitten a name, a humorous hat, and a house, and then make it mercilessly breed non-stop with other kittens in order to produce kitten-babies that can be fed to other, more valuable animals, such as magpies or crocodiles, so as to invite these crocodiles and suchlike to live in your garden. That's experience that you just can't learn in schools, people.
Also, baby animals should occasionally be randomly beaten with a shovel. Just in case it makes them "evolve". You have to check for that; it'd be criminal not to, really.
In Viva Pinata I find myself regularly naming my baby kittens "Winston".