Throwback Thursday: Relive The Vibrantly Coloured Viva Piñata (VIDEO)

Viva Piñata

On November 9, 2006, Viva Piñata was released for the Xbox 360. The unique gardening simulator combined the familiar premise of farming with the colorful Mexican custom of piñatas. Created by developer Rare, the game went on to garner a hefty amount of praise for its vibrant and creative take on the life simulation genre.


Background


Viva Piñata began life as a mobile game concept in 2002, under development by a small team of designers who’d previously worked on the Banjo-Kazooie series. Following Rare’s acquisition by Microsoft, the game continuously evolved as development shifted from the Pocket PC, to the Xbox, and finally the Xbox 360. Animals were always imagined as the game’s focus, but the festive concept of piñatas instantly excited the dev team, sparking many interesting gameplay ideas to pursue.

PICTURED: A prototype version of the game on the original Xbox.

As the project progressed, Microsoft actively encouraged the team to pursue an E rating so the title could appeal to a wider audience. Viva Piñata‘s kid-friendly personality eventually led to a tie-in cartoon series by 4Kids TV, closely following the piñatas’ overall attitude and even implementing some of the game’s 3D animations. The friendly piñata conceit wasn’t lost on Mexico either, as the country’s local Six Flags park featured a 48-foot tall Horstachio piñata, the largest in the world, to celebrate the game’s release on Xbox 360.


Gameplay


Players of Viva Piñata are tasked with tending an untamed garden on the remote locale of Piñata Island. When enough soil-plowing, seed-sowing, and plant-watering is accomplished, the new garden digs attract one of sixty varied species of piñata to take up residence. It’s then up to players to care for the wild piñatas, providing food (candy) and keeping the paper-crafted critters content whenever possible.

One particular instance of happiness maintenance occurs when two of the same types of piñatas are collected. In the throes of love, the candy-container couple initiate a “romance dance”, which results in the appearance of a hatchable piñata egg. The multi-colored huevo makes its delivery via the Island’s feathered resident Storkos, the character being a clear reference to storks and their association with delivering babies.

It isn’t all sunshine and alone time on Piñata Island, as the setting is also home to the game’s antagonist Professor Pester. The villain very much lives up to his name, wanting nothing more than to ruin the player’s garden with the aid of his Ruffian minions. The Pester patrol provides a slew of annoyances such as eating freshly planted seeds, breaking farm equipment, and killing the player’s precious piñata pets.


Legacy


Viva Piñata went on to spawn two follow-ups as well as a Nintendo DS spin-off centered around the piñata premise. The franchise has since gone dormant following the release of the sequel, Trouble in Paradise, and further cemented by the animated series’ subsequent end in 2009. However, the two main series games continue to live on in the current generation as part of the expansive Rare Replay compilation released for the Xbox One in 2015.

What’s your opinion of Viva Piñata? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another title from gaming past.

Eric Hall2687 Posts

Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his biweekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.

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