Viva Pinata

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Viva Pinata on Amazon (PC)

MSRP: $19.99 (Windows) / $14.99 (XBox 360 / XBox One)

Platforms: Windows, XBox 360, XBox One

Release: 11/9/06


I’m not even going to attempt to hold onto a scrap of gamer-cred here. When it was announced that the XBox 360 game Viva Pinata was going to be ported to PC, I was giddy. And in 2007, I wasn’t really in the target age group to get giddy over a pinata game. I didn’t own a console at the time, but I absolutely went out and paid full price for the game where you tend your garden in hope of attracting pinatas.

When we bought an XBox 360, this was one of the first games I wanted to buy, much to my husband’s chagrin. I ended up picking up the sequel – Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise – as well as the spin-off game, Viva Pinata: Party Animals (which is best played by adults after imbibing some adult beverages). I’ve been a hardcore pinata player, and I’m not even ashamed.

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Since I recently rediscovered my box copy of Viva Pinata for PC, I thought I’d load it up and see if I could still get it to run.  This wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  Because sure, the game still runs without difficulty, but it was one of the earliest games to utilize Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live system, and saves are 100% tied to GFWL. Yeah, I know. Because it’s pretty much abandonware as far the PC version goes, nothing was ever done about it.

It took a little digging to find the answer, but if you have the box copy, you can download the latest version of the Games for Windows Marketplace Client and you will be able to create a profile (or use your existing Windows / XBox login information) and you’ll be able to save your progress in Viva Pinata. Please note, this also has the irritating double copy protection of requiring you to have the disc inserted – although tech savvy folks might choose to create an ISO file instead.

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Laugh if you must, but I really believe that Viva Pinata is one of those games that’s really simple to play, but hard to really master.  Sure, it’s easy to clean up your garden, plant a few seeds, and have Whilms and Mousemallows and Tafflies show up.  But it’s an undertaking to get some of the rarer pinatas, like the Chewnicorn or Chippopotamus, and then there are all the evolutions and the mating and …

I get ahead of myself. Each pinata type you can attract to your garden has certain requirements for showing up, for moving in, and for mating.  In addition, you can feed plants or crafted items to your pinatas to cause them to evolve (which in this case is usually a fancy way of saying change color, although there are a few pinatas that don’t appear in the wild and can only be evolved from other pinatas).  There are also a handful of domesticated pinatas that you can purchase with in-game currency from the market.

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In truth, there’s nothing I can really compare Viva Pinata to.  It’s a sandbox world with somewhat annoying limitations – there are more types of pinatas than the system allows you to have at once, which leads to a constant shuffling if you want to see everything the game has to show you.  However, you can have multiple gardens, and you retain your experience, levels, and achievements for all of them across your Microsoft account.

Honestly, it’s a love it or hate it experience.  From the slightly wonky voice acting, to the ridiculously colorful graphics, to the fact that the entire game is littered with Comic Sans. The overly complex requirements to mate high level pinatas get more frustrating when you can’t complete the maze mini-game and have to start all over, but then it’s so much more satisfying when you finally get to see those pinatas dance.  Despite all appearances, this game is not really intended for children – kids young enough to think it’s cool might be traumatized when their pinatas start eating one another.

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I’ve put a lot of hours into Viva Pinata over the years, mostly because I like being able to play it on the PC rather than the console, and because I’m so charmed by everything – well, everything past the tutorial that just goes on way too long.  However, if you have an XBox 360, and you want to dip your toes into the land of pinata breeding, I highly recommend getting Trouble in Paradise instead.  It’s just a far more complete game.

One thought on “Viva Pinata

  1. […] that was definitely on my radar – in fact, I was sort of hoping for a spiritual successor to Viva Pinata), but with a $20 asking price and no demo available, I was holding off until I either saw a […]

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