The first Viva Piñata was a bit magical. Your bright, cheery piñata garden was a pleasure to gaze upon and tinker with as you saw fit. With a steady trickle of new piñatas to woo into your lush sanctuary, you could set yourself to work building a utopia or simply sit back and enjoy watching nature unfold.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise continued the piñata-nurturing, garden-building tradition, but felt more like an expansion than a sequel. If a third Viva Piñata is ever announced for 360 (we're not counting Party Animals), we want to see a proper balance this time between maintaining the core piñata gameplay and adding enough new content to make it feel like a fresh experience.
Full partnership in garden sharing
Playing a garden co-op can be a fun, relaxing way to hang out with your friends over XBL. And it's amazing how quickly you can get things done in VP with two sets of hands. Piñatas that seem like they would take hours of work to obtain suddenly become residents, and piñatas become happier than ever with more watchful eyes guarding them from ruffians and quarrelsome fellow piñatas.
The problem is, Viva Piñata has never allowed gardeners to share a garden equally. Someone always has to be the owner of the garden and the other one the visitor, even if the owner gives full access to the visitor while they're playing together. The person who starts the garden can access it whenever he or she wants, whether playing co-op or not, while the visitor can only access if the owner is present. Because of this, it's difficult for all the non-owner players to feel fully invested in a co-op garden. It would be vastly preferable if there were an option to grant all co-op players equal access to the garden, so that anyone can work on it by himself if he so chooses. Of course, co-op gardens would have to be played online so that there would never be conflicting versions of the same garden offline, but that's not a big deal.
Costalot, we're looking at you. Lots of little tasks take way too long in Viva Piñata, from buying garden items to looking up your garden stats. The menus are definitely pretty, and the main petal menu is great, but the in-depth menus and shop menus can definitely be tedious. Flipping through your logs of piñata accomplishments (species seen, visitors, residents, romanced and master romanced) should be a delight, but the cumbersome design takes away from the experience. Pages are often sluggish to load, and the data is spread out over a zillion pages so you have to sit there flipping pages to find the info you're looking for. Even looking up important details like how many pinometers of water you have in your garden takes far too long.
The menus were a major complaint in the first Viva Piñata, so it's odd that absolutely nothing changed in Trouble in Paradise. In our fantasy Viva Piñata 3, we'd like to see streamlined, more efficient menus that let us do things like browse for items alphabetically and see more data on the screen at once.
Give us new stuff right off the bat
We're glad Trouble in Paradise kept the core gameplay of the original, but even calling it Viva Piñata 1.5 seems a bit generous. It did add 28 new piñatas, but TIP starts too similarly to the first Viva Piñata, with Whirlms and Sparrowmints and so forth. Most of the additions, like teaching your piñatas tricks and visiting the Pinarctic and Dessert Desert areas to trap new piñatas felt underwhelming and did nothing to improve the formula.
Instead, how about starting with all-new piñatas, and only adding old piñatas later in the game? That's how Pokemon does it (new starters every generation) and it works every time (do not question this!). Or how about instead of just romancing your piñatas, you had the ability to create a friendship between two species to end conflicts between pinatas? Any experienced gardener knows that it's impossible for Buzzlegums and Raisants to coexist, and the same goes for Kittyflosses and Barkbarks, and a Horstachio won't tolerate sharing a garden with a Ponocky or a Zumbug. Shouldn't there be a way to bridge this gap? That's the kind of addition we'd like to see in a new Viva Piñata.
More online content
Garden sharing is fun, but we want even more. Leaderboards for example, showing friends' and strangers' most valuable piñatas and gardens would be awesome, because it would spur friendly competition among gardeners, which is something the series has lacked in the past. Being able to leave your garden to go on a stroll and see your friends' gardens would also be a nice addition. Much like Club Look-See in My Pokemon Ranch (except with real people instead of NPCs), visiting other people's gardens just to look around can provide inspiration for your own garden.