About a month ago at the Leipzig Games Convention, developer Rare received a lot of flack for a crashy and frame-dropping Viva Pinata demo. What a difference a month makes. The demo we got to play at X06 seemed to be an entirely different beast altogether. The lock-ups and horrible framerate were magically replaced with some of the best graphics we've seen on 360 to date.
The core gameplay at X06 didn't differ much from what we had previously witnessed at E3 and Tokyo Game Show - it's still a kid-friendly mix of The Sims, Animal Crossing and Pokemon, where players tend a plot of land on Viva Pinata Island with an open-ended goal of attracting different types of living pinatas to live in their personal garden. A happy pinata is a colorful pinata, so all the ones you find in the wild will be black and white; when they move in and feel content, they'll turn multicolored. When they're really happy, they'll breed - which is manifests in the form of dancing - giving the player more creatures to keep happy.