Viva Pinata

The ultimate goal is to nurture pinata through four stages: appearing near your garden, visiting your garden, becoming a resident of your garden and, the beautiful climax of your efforts, getting two pinata of the same type to perform the 'romance dance'.

So, happy in the soil, the Whirlms become residents, causing their bland monochromatic markings to change to an eye-assaulting display of candy-coloured papery plumage. Then, of course, it's on to the next stage... it's time for the Whirlms to make sweet, sweet music.

Before two pinata will get down to the business of procreation, a suitable house must be built for them - we guess even pinatas need security when starting a family - and this is a job for Willy, a builder and one of the island's mysterious masked residents and willing helpers.

Once Willy has constructed a Whirlm love shack, the amorous animals are shepherded inside. Before the romance dance can begin, however, players must complete a minigame - in this instance a rather basic 'guide the Whirlms through the 2D maze' affair.

Every pinata type dances the romance dance differently and to its own music, so effectively there's going to be 60+ variations of the ceremonial peep show to enjoy.

With the dance done, the egg-delivering Storkos brings the fruits of the romance dance to the Whirlm house. Eggs can be left to hatch or, if you prefer, boxed up and sent to a fellow pinata enthusiast over Xbox Live.

This happy occasion is made even more joyous by the fact that the arrival of an egg in the garden is enough to persuade the Sparrowmint that's been mooching about to become a rainbow-coloured resident. Nature at work - it's a beautiful thing.

Viva Pinata may be as blindingly colourful as a kid's party (but less raucous), but planted beyond the well-tended borders appears to be a game of surprising - and entirely welcome - depth. And if it can deliver the same compulsive 'catch 'em all' hook as Pokemon then we're sure that once we start propagating pinata we're going to find it hard to uproot ourselves from the garden.