So many video games nowadays cause stress levels to sky-rocket. Online gaming intensifies the effect by introducing situations that cause normally reasonable people to begin shouting. “Get to the bridge!” “Cover me, I’m going left!” “Spam them with plasma grenades!” And who can forget the always classic explosions of expletives: @#@*#$%^&*^%#&^(*&^!! However, one can find rest and relaxation among a handful of games out there, one of which is Viva Piñata. Set on an island paradise, Viva Piñata gives the player control of a small garden and the piñata animals that inhabit it. Low-stress and contagiously cute, Viva Piñata should be sought out not only by casual gamers, but is also a nice contrast for hardcore gamers looking to relieve the stress of losing that last match of Team Slayer on Halo: Reach.
The control scheme in the game is quite easy to pick up and master. Beyond using a shovel and a watering can, most of the functions in the game are quite basic and add to the fun of playing. The main goal of Viva Piñata is to create a beautiful garden that attracts a plethora of piñatas (try saying that five times fast!) When you first start, you only have access to the most basic of piñata animals: worms, birds, mice. As you progress, you gain money and purchase houses for different types of piñatas. In addition to gathering piñatas and houses, the player has the opportunity to create food and flower gardens. (A tip: growing produce can be a very profitable investment.) However, Viva Piñata consists not solely of candy-filled piñata animals lazing away the day in your utopian garden; it is a video game, so there must be some challenging elements introduced along the way. Adding a sense of realism to this creative and fantastical game, piñatas get sick, get into fights, and produce that hangs around the garden too long begins to have a really off smell. And since piñatas come in all the shapes and sizes of real animals, fights break out between them and oftentimes piñatas are even eaten! Don’t worry; blood and guts are replaced by delicious candy! Dastardly evil outside forces also aim to corrupt and destroy your garden and the piñatas living there.
As fun filled as Viva Piñata is, not all aspects of it cause the gamer to heave a sigh at the overflowing cuteness. The back story introduced as you progress through the game adds little to the entire experience. Some of the characters get slightly annoying, as do the alerts you receive for every little thing going on in the garden. These flaws aside, Viva Piñata is an incredibly fun game. My advice: pick up a copy today and get hooked on chocolate and candy in a way you never thought possible.