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Viva Pinata (Xbox 360)
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 complex ecosystem simulation game is nothing like the animated series on Fox. The shovel can be used to whack characters; if you cause a piñata to burst by whacking it repeatedly, there are consequences. Some piñatas eat other characters, and kids may find it difficult to sell piñatas they've nurtured. The game has an online aspect for trading piñatas; parents of young kids should supervise or inactivate this feature.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
VIVA PIÑATA is a rich, compelling ecosystem simulation game in which you're a gardener, and what you do with your garden will determine which of more than 60 vibrant piñatas visit or take up residence in your garden. It is a \"sandbox\"-type game, meaning that it's an open-ended game of exploration.
You start with a barren piece of land strewn with junk, and your cursor becomes a shovel you use to clear the ground, earn some currency, and plant some grass. As you create a garden, piñatas become interested in your plot of land -- and each arrival attracts the interest of other piñatas. As your garden grows, and more and more piñatas live there, incompatibilities will arise: Some piñatas just can't live with others, and they will fight. When a piñata \"dies,\" it busts open to release its inner candies, and is then transported outside of the garden by a burst of light before it turns back into a black-and-white piñata to grow elsewhere.
Is it any good?
While planting a garden to see who will visit may not sound particularly exciting, this game is fascinating. The engine behind the simulation is deep, complex, and subtle. For teens and adults, this provides a sophisticated gaming experience; you can experiment with the garden to attract rare and unusual piñatas, amass gardening achievements, and meet other in-game challenges. But the game can also provide a fulfilling gaming experience for younger children who simply want to plant a garden and revel in the vibrant creatures that come and go.
The graphics are gorgeous, and the gameplay is easy to learn. It even offers a Family Mode whenever you plug in an additional controller, allowing for cooperative play within the garden. However, the pace at which new things happen is quite fast, and at times makes you feel rushed. You will want to start numerous games so that you can try different things to attract different kinds of piñatas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how ecosystems work. They might want to encourage kids to plant various seeds to see what happens. Why don't some piñatas live together well? How is food supply important in an ecosystem? What do you think about piñatas who leave sour candy around to make others sick? What did you do about them? How did you feel when you had to sell a piñata? What did you gain? Was it worth it?