Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise
|Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise|
North American box art
|Distributor(s)||Microsoft Game Studios|
Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise is a life simulation game developed by Rare, for the Nintendo DS video game console and based on the original Viva Piñata, rather than being an all-new game in the series.
This version was developed by Rare's handheld team, as opposed to Viva Piñata: Party Animals and the PC version of the original game, which were developed by separate third-party developers. This is Rare's second Nintendo DS project, after Diddy Kong Racing DS, which was developed by the same team. This is so far, the only game in the Viva Piñata series to not have a Japanese release.
Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise is, like its predecessor, a sandbox game that tasks the player with turning a neglected plot of land into a beautiful garden. The game retains the majority of features and all of the piñata from the original. As the game was built from the ground up for the DS, Rare’s handheld team took the opportunity to add additional features and changes.
The most obvious difference between Pocket Paradise and the original is that the entire game is controlled using the stylus, giving the player a very direct, intuitive method of interacting with their garden. It is now possible to simply ‘draw’ grass onto soil, or double tap a flower to remove its head.
The game also makes use of the two screens on the DS where, for the majority of the game, the main garden view is displayed in the lower screen of the DS. In the upper screen, there is a context sensitive information panel  that is unique to this version of the game. The information that is displayed dynamically changes to reflect what is currently selected - ranging from an individual piñata's romance requirements to a percentage breakdown of the garden's floor tiles. It is even possible to swap the screens around and interact with the information panel, to view a comprehensive piñata encyclopedia, a journal, an awards page and a piñata pyramid (amongst other things).
Other than control changes, there is a handful of design changes that are unique to this version of the game. First off, it is no longer possible to buy fertiliser or romance sweets. Fertiliser (which is now accessed via the main tools pallet) is only produced when a Taffly is made to interact with a piece of fruit - the colour of the fruit dictates the colour of the fertiliser. Romance sweets are now earned by completing Viva Piñata Central challenges, putting much more emphasis on what was originally a purely optional aspect of the game. Another major difference between the DS version and the original is the addition of an overhead map  that not only enables the player to view the whereabouts of their piñata instantly, but allows them to zoom in on any pinata by simply tapping their icon.
A new game mode has also been added that mirrors the "Just for fun" mode in Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, named “Playground”. This is a no-pressure version of the main game (set on a beach) where young or inexperienced players can experiment without having to deal with the challenging aspects of the game, such as Dastardos or Ruffians, or having to pay for items.
Rare explains on their website that "you'll also be given free rein with an expanded selection of tools and tool actions, upgraded forms of the Journal and Encyclopedia... and Episodes (tying in more closely to the TV series and allowing fans of the show to spend quality time with familiar faces)." They also state that “DS wireless connectivity... lets you send prime Piñata specimens to your friends, making the act of parading your Doenut around in a humiliating pirate outfit easier than ever."
Players that have played Viva Piñata, the original may realize that Miss Petula's Paper Pets, Ivor Beggar/Bargain and Fannie Franker's Post Office were taken out of the game. In Pocket Paradise, Gretchen Fetchem sells the accessories (Miss Petula) and Mail Boxes (Fannie Franker) which can be sent wirelessly to other people's copies of the game. Lottie sells Ivor Bargain's goods also. However, Ivor Beggar is still included but has many more needs than just an amount of chocolate coins, the currency on Piñata Island.
Back in 2005, Electronic Gaming Monthly reported that Rare was hard at work on two projects for the Nintendo DS. Their first Nintendo DS game released was Diddy Kong Racing DS, so that game and Viva Piñata were most likely the two projects mentioned.
The game was announced later at Comic-Con 2007 and on May 13, 2008 THQ officially announced the release of Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise in the Fall of 2008. On May 22, 2008 Rare opened a dedicated Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise section on their website.
In a May 2008 interview with members from the team, the question "Was it always the plan to transfer Viva Piñata across to the DS, or did it take some prompting?" received the response "In discussions for a follow-on project for DKR DS it became a greater focal point, and in hindsight, seeing what we came up with, it's proven to be a complete no-brainer. We love it." from the game's producer, Paul Machacek.
Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise won the award for Best Simulation Game for the Nintendo DS from IGN in their 2008 video game awards. Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise also received a pair of 2009 BAFTA nominations for Best Strategy Game at the Game Awards  and Best Video Game at the Children's Awards.
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- Viva Piñata official site
- Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise page on Rare's official site
- Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise - THQ's Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise site
- Viva Piñata Wiki - PinataIsland.info