A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this great ecosystem game will appeal to both adults and children. Younger kids can play around in Playground mode without the main mode's consequences and restrictions, whereas older kids and adults will find the deep simulation compelling. The animals are actually pinatas, and while they don't "die," they can burst and disappear, leaving behind candy. Since this is an ecosystem, some pinatas eat others, and not all pinatas get along. The Nintendo DS lets players who each own their own copy of the game trade items back and forth using a local wireless connection.
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What's it about?
VIVA PINATA: POCKET PARADISE is essentially a Nintendo DS version of Viva Pinata, the compelling ecosystem simulation that debuted on the Xbox 360 back in 2006. In the open-ended sand-box style game, the goal is to maintain a plot of land by laying down soil, grass, and water and planting various trees and vegetables in order to attract more than 60 different colorful pinatas to take up residence, interact with each other, and even mate and reproduce (tastefully and in "private," of course).
In spite of its new life on a portable device, Viva Pinata has lost none of its complexity or depth. In fact, the Nintendo DS version boasts several changes that make this version more user-friendly and easier to interact with. The DS stylus makes activities like digging soil and planting grass a breeze because players can simply drag the stylus along the lower screen to fill in turf – as opposed to the Xbox 360 version where you had to slowly point and click each spot. There's also a useful overhead map for quickly locating points of interest in the garden, and players can share items with friends through the DS's local ad hoc wireless connection
Is it any good?
The game features more extensive tutorials for learning how to play, and a new Playground mode that lets players simply let loose and experiment without any of the challenge or restrictions of the main mode. Another noteworthy change is that while the original Piva Pinata game bore little resemblance to the Viva Pinata Saturday morning cartoon show tie-in, Pocket Paradise references it frequently, with narration from several characters from the TV show, including Franklin Fizzlybear and Fergy Fudgehog, and 12 cutscenes taken directly from the show. While the cartoon show itself has received mixed reviews, the addition of these short video vignettes does nothing to detract from the fascinating and fun gameplay.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what pinatas are your favorite and why. How does your Viva Pinata ecosystem mimic real world flora and fauna? You can explain the difference between herbivores and carnivores? It can be sad when one pinata eats another one, but why is this necessary in nature?
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