Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Viva Pinata

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".


Grant said...

Viva Pinata, like most of Rare's post-N64 output, sucks immensely.

GregT said...

Pfah! You're just letting the cruel, cruel letdown of Kameo harden your heart into ice. Clearly you've never had the sublime joy of putting sunglasses on a Zumbug, naming it "Clyde", and then listening to its agonised screaming as you feed it alive to a Roario. That's a warm glow that'll stay with me into my twilight years.

Perfect Dark Zero was a perfectly decent game whose only flaw was that it didn't improve on the original as exponentially as people hoped.

Xantar said...

I'm surprised that the Australian government hasn't gotten into a bigger tizzy over this game. After all, it promotes incest! Even Manhunt doesn't go that far!

GregT said...

Not just incest. Gay incest. My two Eaglairs named Garry and Syd just can't stay away from the "romance sweets".

Julia B said...

When I was over, you were frustrated by lack of space... did that problem ever resolve itself or are you building tenaments?

GregT said...

No, I realised that I was playing the game wrong. It's not like Sim City where the goal is to build absolutely everything and then juggle it all; it's really more like Pokemon where you work on a handful of projects / species at once, get them finished, and then bench them to make room for your next projects. Once you realise that it all starts working out just fine.