Viva Pinata

Wild pinata will appear around the island in monochrome, only revealing their eye-popping true colours when tempted into becoming garden residents - a neat touch that should inspire curiosity without sapping the desire to collect. Some will be attracted by certain kinds of plant, others by other pinatas; for the game to work, this apparently very simple system will need to have considerable depth and be well-seeded with secrets. Certainly the island's day/night cycle will come into play.

As well as having what Rare calls 'complex relationships' with each other, pinatas will be menaced and turned against each other by red-and-black variants called 'sours' (after the sour-tasting candy found inside them when they die), who will have to be fended off by finding their own antagonist species.

Although at this stage some of the presentation seems all too aggressively aimed at a very young market, Viva Pinata's progress through collection, community and personal customisation perfectly synthesises the 360's philosophy and the mass-market zeitgeist, as well as being a perfect fit for Live.

With the animated series hitting the air in September, and given its family orientation and strategic importance, the game absolutely must make its Christmas release date.

So here's hoping Rare can apply its usual polish and more than its usual inspiration without resorting to Perfect Dark Zero levels of risk-taking, because this could be the game to finally bring the Xbox brand, and Live, to the players that always eluded it.