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Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

With the surprising success that Viva Pinata generated, it was only a matter of time before a sequel was released. Gamers taken in with the addictive game play of the first will feel right at home in Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise. If you haven't played the first Viva Pinata game, do not fear that you will miss out on this incredible game. Trouble in Paradise starts out much the same way as its predecessor by slowly giving you information. Once you get your first taste of the game, you will become hooked and find it hard to put the controller down. I've never really had a game draw me in as much as the Viva Pinata. You will find yourself trying to quit out of the game only to find that a new pinata has entered your garden and you are pulled back in. Viva Pinata is cleverly addictive in its presentation and game play.

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise starts out in much the same way as its predecessor. One difference that you will note is that instead of starting out with a specific pinata species, you will start out with a random low level pinata. I found this to be a better way to start the game because you are exposed to a different species instead of starting with the whirlm. Trouble in Paradise does a good job of providing you with information that is useful as you gain levels and become a better gardener. You will be notified as you gain levels that new items are available in the various shops in the village. Learning the items that are available in each store will help once you are much higher in level as you can quickly navigate to the store you need and find your item.

Early in the game, you will spend most of your time working to get the species that visit your garden as residents. As they enter, you can press the Y button to bring up information about the specific pinata. Pressing the Y button again will allow you to see the various requirements that they need to appear, visit your garden and become resident. One nice change from the first Viva Pinata is that you can move a short distance outside of your garden. This allows you to check on requirements for pinata that walk outside but have not entered your garden.

Once you have species resident, the game really picks up in its challenge. You have to manage many tasks simultaneously while keeping an eye on your garden for troublemakers. One thing that I have found that helps is to concentrate on one species at a time. Early in the game, this is easier as many of the requirements to romance a species are easy enough. A nice plan for this is to make two pinata resident, build their house and work on fulfilling their requirements to romance them. Once you romance a species for the first time, you can take a shortcut by purchasing romance candy from Costolot's store. This will allow you to have the pinata eat the candy and instantly be ready to romance. Romance them until you receive the Master Romancer award for that species. Then, you can work on finding out the variant requirements for that species. Each pinata species have three variant's to them that give them different coloring then the normal color of that species. Another new addition to the game is that each species has tricks that it can learn. As you discover the tricks by feeding the pinata different items, you can use your trick stick to tap them when they first learn the trick. From them on, anytime you tap them with the trick stick, they will perform that trick.

As you become a more experienced gardener, you will be able to attract higher level pinata to your garden. Usually these pinata have more complex requirements to become resident and to romance them. You may find yourself romancing one species to satisfy a requirement for another species you are trying to work with. This adds another level of difficulty to the game because you need to keep an eye on requirements of two species at a time instead of one. Also, depending on the species, you may find that your other residents simply don't like the new pinata or they start fights with it any chance they can forcing you to try and break it up or calling the doctor for the losing pinata.

There are other opportunities to gain experience as well in the game. Once you have a pinata at full happiness, you can send it to a party. Or, you can try and complete a challenge given you to by Langston. Usually these challenges are simple and just require a certain pinata species. As you become a higher level gardener, these challenges might require a certain color pinata species, or that they are wearing a certain accessory.

Another change made in Trouble in Paradise is the addition of pinata that are blocked by an obstacle. These blocked pinata require you to free them before they can visit your garden. Most of them require you having enough of a specific pinata species to deal with the obstacle. Some of them require you to hire villagers to remove the obstacle. It is an interesting twist requiring you to figure out what you need to do to free the blocked pinata.

Professor Pestor and the Ruffians are still around causing you much trouble. The Ruffians are easy enough to deal with once you have the Captain's Cutless available in the store. This item will stop the Ruffians from entering your garden. The downside of this is that the item is expensive and if Professor Pester sees it in your garden, he will destroy it. Dealing with the Professor is tricky business. If you catch him just as he enters your garden, you can bribe him by giving him chocolate coins to make him go away. However, if you give him too little, he will laugh and still destroy an item or pinata in your garden. You can pay off the Ruffians as well, until you get the cutless to keep them out.

As if the Professor and Ruffians were not enough to worry about, you also have the sour pinata to deal with. These pinata enter your garden and leave sour candy that cause your resident pinata to get sick if they eat a piece. Luckily, you can tame the sour pinata and have their tame form as a resident in your garden. By doing this, you receive a totem pole piece that keeps their sour form away from your garden.

Also new to Viva Pinata is the ability to connect with players over Live to work in a garden in co-op mode. You can bring up to three additional players into your garden. Once in your garden, you can control their permissions and limit what they can do. Default permission is Limited. This allows them to do some tasks in your garden, but they cannot buy or sell items in your garden. There is also a lower permission that basically lets them watch only. The highest permission is Full. This I would recommend that you only allow to people you know and trust. With Full permissions, the other player can do anything that you can do in your garden. So, if you grant this to a random Live player, they can wreck all of your hard work you have put into your garden.

And finally, one last new feature to the game is the ability to travel to the Dessert Desert or the Pinarctic. These two areas contain pinata species that would normally not visit your garden. You must catch them in a trap and send them to your post office to get them into your garden. However, once in the garden, you still need to satisfy their resident requirements. If the pinata leaves part way through, you will have to catch another and start over. So, it would be most helpful to have all of their requirements in your garden before you catch one.

Achievements are pretty well spread out as you play the game. There are a few that can only be obtained in co-op mode, with the majority coming from doing various things within your garden. None of the achievements are difficult that they become unreachable, which helps with the addictive nature of the game.

If you have played the first game, Trouble in Paradise will look no different to you. The game is very well done and looks like a colorful cartoon world that have pinata alive and moving around. The various species are all distinct and have their own little animations and sounds that they make while they are living in your garden. The sounds in the game are pretty much the same as well. Soft music in the background as you play broken up with the occasional spoken dialogue from Leafos or the other village people you meet in their stores. The pinata species all have noises they make as well. Some of the sounds do get a little annoying, but you can ignore them for the most part unless you are right near them.

It's hard to improve upon a solid game when making the sequel, but Rare has done that and more with Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise. The new elements and gameplay make for a solid release. Even though I had put many hours into the original title, I cannot pull myself away from Trouble in Paradise. The game has a way of hooking you in and not letting you go. It feeds into any type of obsessive tendencies you may have because you feel compelled to do just one more task before you quit. When you finally are able to quit, you realize that much more time has past then you thought. If you enjoyed the first Viva Pinata, you cannot pass this up. If you are new to the game, you cannot go wrong with it. The price is at a lower point, $39.99 at release and compared to the normal $59.99 price, you cannot beat the value in this title. Add in the fact that it is a great title to let your younger children play with our without you, and you have a game you must have in your collection.