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I bought myself a copy of Viva Piñata: Trouble In Paradise recently, and since then I have been playing it like crazy. Back when the original Viva Piñata came out, I played the living shit out of it. As in sitting in the dark until the wee hours of the morning, bleary eyed and practically delirious, completely addicted to trying to lure one more animal into the garden, and mystified by the bright, pretty colours. It was awesome. Then other games came along, and I slowly forgot about the wonderful world of Viva Piñata. That is until a local game store had a 2 for $38 sale recently, and I picked up a copy of Burnout Paradise, and Viva Piñata: Trouble In Paradise. I know I’m late to the party with Viva, since it was released in September of 2008, but man, I’m making up for some lost fucking time.

The Viva Piñata series, for those who don’t know, appears very simple on the surface. You’re left in charge of a garden, and your actions (your ratio of grass, soil and water, what types of decorations you deck out your garden with, etc.) will attract different breeds of living piñata animals. You can then romance these piñatas with each other to increase the population, and continue building and modifying your garden. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

What’s so wonderful about the series, though, is that this shit is just the tip of the iceberg. As your garden expands and you try new things, more and more piñata types will arrive. Learning what you need to do to attract them and keep them around, finding ways to protect them from enemies that appear every so often, giving them good environments so that they don’t fight each other all proves very challenging and very complex. For a series that’s primarily aimed at children… I just don’t see how they’d keep up. I’m a 26-year-old man, and I consider my self fairly intelligent, but fuck me, sometimes keeping up with all the shit I have to do in my garden can be overwhelming.

Viva Piñata: Trouble In Paradise takes the winning formula and addictive nature from the first game and introduces new piñatas, new territories to explore and capture piñatas from, a series of new challenges that can be undertaken, mini-games, and even something that resembles a plot! Not that you need it, because building that garden is where the game is at, and that shit works fucking perfectly. I forgot how amazing Viva Piñata was, and I can’t wait to spend many more hours of my life having fun with Trouble In Paradise.

I can see why the game would have its share of haters. For kids, it may be too difficult. For adults, it may be way too… cutesy. I can understand that, considering the piñatas have pussy, sugary names like Bunnycomb, Sparrowmint, Fudgehog, and Quackberry. But this just adds to the fun. If you can play through this, and not get swept up in the sweet, gentle nature of it, well, you’re much stronger than I.

Dear Reader, do yourself a favour and check out this fun, beautiful, cute, deep, complex, wonderful game.

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