Angry Robot

Viva Pinata

As many have noted, it’s a game wasted on children. It’s far too complicated. You want to get pinatas to a) stay in your garden and b) mate, but each species has different requirement for those two stages, and as the game progresses the requirements get pretty fussy. On top of that you have various outside threats to your pinatas’ happiness, and the fact that in the game, as in life, not all pinatas get along. I had those fox things massacring my little hombres willy-nilly before I realized I could just beat them with my shovel – or better yet, sell them!

The essence of the game – play game to earn value to upgrade assets to counteract increased difficulty – is nothing new. But the sheer open-endedness of it is refreshing. I played some Call of Juarez and that thing is as linear as a train ride to Montreal, which is to say: almost quaint-feeling, nothing like the millions of possible things you could do in your pinata garden. And it should be said that not shooting anything for a while is a refreshing break, whether you be soldier, psychopath or Xbox 360 owner. Don’t shoot anything, but also: concentrate on creating a beautiful space. Nice little message, there. Forgot games could even say that.

The downsides? Ultimately, a fair bit of what you will be doing is navigating through menus. Pretty menus, but still. And even a 3-second loading time to get to the store menu, which isn’t much by today’s game-loading standards, still feels like you’re surfing on dialup when you have to do it every couple of minutes. Also – in order to get pinatas to mate, after their requirements have been met, you have to manually point one pinata at the other. That isn’t necessary to get them to eat things. You can still manually tell them to eat something, or you can wait and hope they eventually do. I don’t see why mating doesn’t work that way as well. Part of the fun of the game is in the serendipitous events that occur, and spontaneously exploding species populations would only add to that.

But really, those points are pretty minor, and as you can get this game for around $30 now, it seems like a good pickup.