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Viva Pinata: Party Animals on Game and Player

Viva Pinata: Party Animals

Curtis Mettler  //  November 13, 2007

It starts with a bang, but doesn't deliver all that much substance.


y first experience with the Viva Piñata universe was an incredibly positive one. I loved almost everything about the original game, from the wild and brightly extravagant plumage of the animals to the wide range of freedom that allows players to tailor their gardens to suit their own personal style. I also appreciated the social attitude that Viva Piñata encouraged. The game was designed to be shared. Indeed, there was an entire range of possibilities that could only be reached through online cooperation. Though there have been games such as Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon that have used this formula to great effect, the originality of the setting and characters made Piñata shine in its own right. So when I had the opportunity to check out the latest addition to the universe, Viva Piñata: Party Animals, I was rather enthusiastic.

I knew going into the game that it was designed for The Childrens. I was not holding out hope for gameplay of any real challenge or complexity. I also realized that this game, in keeping with the spirit of the original, was meant to be played in a group environment. Unfortunately, I couldn't convince any of my coworkers to join me in a game. Being that they are all the manliest of men, I could understand their hesitation. Recognizing these factors, I adjusted my expectations and jumped right into the game.

The game's striking visual style does and excellent job engaging the player from the very first. From the opening title sequence to the menus and throughout the game every shade of color in the spectrum was put to use, in a very pleasing manner. The effect is not unlike diving headfirst into a massive confetti explosion. The music further supports the party feel with a non-stop selection of extremely upbeat and quick-tempo tracks that help inspire the same hectic feeling one can get from a particularly rousing game of Musical Chairs. While this combination of sensory stimulation is quite appropriately targeted at the younger crowd, I found it to be very pleasant and even caught myself humming along as I frantically tapped my way through each event.

Gameplay and controls were simple and easy to master. The primary event, the footrace, involves a single lap on a wide basic loop. In a style similar to all popular "kart" games, the players may collect powerups and traps for use against the competition. Controlling my personal piñata had a very relaxed feel to it, more like arcade racing than racing sim. There was never a need for the brake button or the slide button. All I needed to dominate the field was a firm hold on the throttle. Human opponents would have undoubtedly made this a little more challenging — single-player competition fell a little short.

Between each round of racing, players compete in several mini-games. While there are upwards of 16 different mini-games interspersed with the main races, each game is simply a slightly different variant of four themes: rhythm; reflexes, which is primarily a single-button mash-a-thon; aim-and-fire; and move-and-collect. Each of these game types is kept to a low level of complexity. The aim-and-fire scenarios, amounting to nothing more than a four-way shooting gallery, typically feature no more than three levels of target speed and size. Move-and-collect situations involve a circular arena where players jostle, push and jockey to collect the most candy pieces in a certain time frame.

Though new variants of each type are unlocked over time, the basic formula for each remains constant. And even though this didn't surprise me, I still rapidly lost interest during some of the longer games, as I slowly developed that irritating feeling of déjà vu. After my first session, I couldn't stand to play for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time before I had to find something else to do. Again, having human opponents in a group-competition environment would undoubtedly alleviate much of the stale feeling.

Viva Piñata: Party Animals manages to deliver an engaging performance on the group-play aspect. I would certainly suggest it for an elementary school sleepover or basic, goofy gathering of good friends. However, I couldn't possibly recommend it over some of the more traditional titles such as Super Smash Bros. or Mario Kart 64 when the goal is solid, action-packed battle. Mario Party: Sunshine would also be a good choice for those seeking a bit more challenge. Viva Piñata: Party Animals starts with a bang, but doesn't deliver all that much substance.

Viva Pinata: Party Animals



Krome Studios


Microsoft Game Studios

NA Release

October 30, 2007


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Colorful, exciting presentation
  • Easy to learn


  • Gets old quick
  • Fun depends on group play
  • There are better party titles

G&P Rating

G&P Latest

July 1, 2011

June 28, 2011

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