And we don't use the word "achievements" lightly there. In a nice little nod to the franchise's roots, there's now a screen which lists all of your landmark progress throughout the game in graphical form as part of a 3D pyramid. It doesn't seem to serve any in-game function at the moment, but even if it remains a simple gloating tool, it will be a brilliant way of igniting bitter gardening rivalries.
And at the opposite end of the scale there's the brand new playground mode, in which it's possible to take things on a thoroughly more zen route and have fun just building and tending to a fully kitted-out, free play garden with everything unlocked. Given how often we get distracted by a fanciful creative ramble in VP and completely miss the deaths of our favourite tenants while we're busy tweaking flowerbeds, the chance to flex our artistic temperament without worrying about the wider consequences is a very welcome addition.
Overall, we're really looking forward to Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise. The depth and craftsmanship of the original game is often criminally overlooked by the type of hardcore gamer who can't get past a lack of flying spleens, but that really is their loss. With the refinement we've seen in this new DS installment, Rare seems to be shaping the game to be all things to all players, even morseo than its predecessor was, and if things continue to turn out as well as they have so far, it isn't something anyone should want to miss out on a second time.