A mini-game spin off from a gardening game based on a children's TV show. Doesn’t sound very promising does it? Well, it’s not all bad. The game is developed by Krome Studios (not Rare who made the original title) who are an experienced independent developer. This is their first party style game but with their experience they manage to make something remarkably fun.
The game has a fairly simple layout. In single player you enter a championship which can be short, medium, long or custom. Here you have a mixture between races and mini-games which in turn get you points. The racing works surprisingly well and is like a more basic version of Mario Kart. There are various short cuts, items and speed boosts along the way to try and help you to get the better of your opponents. Unfortunately some of the items such as the rocket and the sunflower don’t seem to help at all and the people at the back of the rest at the beginning will often push for first place by the end due to the overly generous handicap. There are 8 characters ( a mixture of male and female) to choose from – each have their advantages and disadvantages. For example smaller Pinatas are better for races but bigger Pinatas are better at game which involved collecting candy so choosing your character wisely is important.
There are plenty of mini games to keep you entertained but some of them are just variations of each other which looks like it has just been included to make the game seem a bit fuller. There are all of the usual button mashing, collecting and other various timing based activities. The computer doesn’t usually pose much of a challenge but the game seems to have random difficulty spikes and there are one or two games where it is extremely hard to win. Many of the games rely on you collecting candy (what else does a Pinata need?!) but the game isn’t totally friendly and often smacking you opposition will help you to get more candy to become the best Pinata in all the land!
The single player alone is only likely to keep you entertained for a few hours at most, but everyone knows that party games are all about multi-player. Duly, multi-player is as frantic as you would expect and naturally is more fun offline with some friends than it is online. Real life players are much more of a challenge than the computer and can make a nice break from the wealth of first person shooters that the 360 has to offer. Many of the mini games require a surprising amount of skill and precision timing to come first which makes a change from some party games which just offer button smashing style games. With most other Xbox 360 games some practice or training is usually involved if you are trying to play with a friend who hasn’t played the game before and even after doing that the competition is still quite weak. This isn’t the case with Viva Pinata Party Animals as every mini game has different controls and you are told how to play and control the mini game just before it starts – this gives the game a nice pick up and play style.
The online mode works well with minimal lag but finding a game is sometimes difficult. Other players often get frustrated and leave. Generally though, it is a good experience and if you can get a decent party together then a few hours can easily fly by.
The review has been fairly positive so far, so now for a negative - the sound is extremely irritating in most places. The in game audio is fine but there are small cut scenes before rounds which rarely change and quite frankly want to make you split the game in half. Perhaps if you are young and a fan of the TV show then these parts would be quite good but unfortunately I don’t fall in to either of those categories and this absolutely despise it.
Graphically the game isn’t as good as the sublime original but this is to be expected as it isn’t such a high profile game. The graphics do their job well though and certainly don’t detract from the experience. Colours are vibrant as you would expect and the game looks extremely sharp when viewing through a high definition TV.
To conclude, Viva Pinata Party Animals is a fun game; easily the best party game on the Xbox 360 (there isn’t much competition though...). For kids this game will provide hours of entertainment and adults will even get some fun out of it too. It is by no means perfect but it is a polished title with no major bugs or glitches and with its budget price tag it’s worth getting, particularly if you fancy some mini-game fun for a change. The achievements are rather easy but will take some time which again gives the game greater longevity.
Originally Written By: Joe