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Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise - first look

Microsoft's quest for mainstream acceptance of Xbox 360 continues with the unveiling of Rare's gardening sequel, Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, at a very exclusive trip up to see the studio in the Back End of Nowhere, UK. Both developer and publisher were keen to show it off at a recent Banjo 3 unveiling and we've got first images and impressions straight from Rare HQ.

Let's get the important bit out of the way first - Viva Piñata 2 is a new game that you'll have to start from right at the beginning. That means a shit shovel to dig with and maybe a daisy seed the seed man dropped. For anyone coming to the game for the first time this will be of little consequence. But for all those who spent the last year creating Kew Gardens (and even that bloke who proposed through the game) having to bring in the JCBs and turf everything up might be a bit hard to swallow.

Producer Steve Brown told us it's mainly down to tech reasons as to why gamers can't import their gardens into the sequel. But if we can put a man on the moon surely we can import and export a garden from the first Viva Pinata game into the second? An overlooked option, perhaps? An evil, corporate plan to make people fork out full whack rather than do a cheaper expansion? Nah, the blokes (and at least the two girls we saw there) are way too nice to be involved in anything like that.

Even though it's back to the beginning for everyone the good news is that gardening black belts won't have to sit through boxes of tutorial texts and n00bish challenges before they get to see new breeds of Pinatas shagging (sorry 'romance dancing') like their race depended on it.

The first hour of the game is a lot more dynamic and has been designed to ease new players into the game while at the same time allowing professional gardeners to skip the basics. Members of the Rare dev team were quite open about how they weren't happy when looking back at the amount of text players had to wade through in the original. But they were impressed by the lessons they learnt.

New players can be walked through the concept of the game by familiar faces such as Leafos and Seedos (no relation) who dish out really simple to follow tasks and challenges. If you've played the game before and are above learning how to plant a seed you can chose to ignore this part and just get right into it.

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