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Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise

Let’s face it; most of us didn’t buy a 360 so we could play as a gardener for a bunch of sweet-filled paper animals. Which would suggest why not many of you could be bothered to give it a go last time around. But then, that’s your loss because it means you’ve missed out on one the most original, strangely addictive games of recent years. So Rareis giving you the chance to redeem yourself with a new version, Pocket Paradise for the DS. Amazingly, this isn’t a ‘dumbed down’ Viva Pinata with half the content stripped out – it’s actually a full-blown experience, albeit not in HD obviously and viewed from a different perspective.

The basic concept is the same: take a plot of land (which is 4x4 DS screens, so it’s quite sizeable) and cover it in grass, water features, paths and flowers in order to attract different pinata to your garden. Different pinata, much likedifferent kinds of flowers, need a certain amount of water – or in some cases, like certain pinata to eat – so the trick is in managing different kinds of eco-systems so that you can find different pinata and get them to take up residency in your DS-shaped corner of paradise.

Considering that obvious concessions have had to be made in terms of the game’s visuals, it’s actually technically very impressive. The terraforming works amazingly well, and the pinata are chunky and nicely animated, while the DS handles all on-screen activity without a hint of strain showing. Plus, in many ways, the stylus control and birds-eye view makes managing your garden quicker, easier and less fiddly than it was on 360. All of which point to this being the best Viva Pinata game yet…

If anything, we’d say this is a better fit on DS than it was on Xbox 360. The garden is a nice manageable size without feeling too small, the pinata are nice and chunky and the control system is really elegant, which all means that switching between tools, scrolling the play area and selecting objects and pinata is really accessible. Best of all though, all the depth of the original is still here, which means that attracting all the pinata to your garden will take you a very long time. That said, some of the little problems of the original are still there too - it can often feel like hard work…

Jul 3, 2008