E308: Viva Pinata was an Xbox game?

Okay, confession time: I never played Viva Piñata the first time around. The allure of festive animal husbandry was insufficient to entice me into the console purchase required. I've researched the original (by, uh, watching some YouTube videos and such), but I went into my quick demo of Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise without a real preconceived notion of how Viva Piñata is supposed to look or play.

How was this ever anything but a DS game? The tasks involved in playing Viva -- watering and planting plants, clearing land, building structures for critters -- make so much sense in the top-down perspective of Pocket Paradise that it's hard to imagine this game in a different perspective on a different system. It would be so much harder, I think, to manage a large-scale garden in a more zoomed-in view. Having a larger, wider look at the goings-on in the garden makes the game seem more natural and easier.

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Not to mention the fact that the stylus is a natural for a menu-driven game. It's a very point-and-click kind of game. To build, you drag a square representation of the structure into the area you want it to be built, then click an 'okay' button. Every in-game tool and maintenance action -- digging, buying new Piñatas, watering, etc. -- is controlled via a pop-up menu in the upper-right corner of the screen.

The THQ rep assured me that all of the content in the 360 game (minus romance minigames, because they were apparently annoying) is in the DS game, and that she was already 10 hours into the new version after sinking about 100 into the 360 game. She emphasized that the same obsessive encyclopedia-filling that players undertook in the original game will be present in this remake.

The familiarity and ease of use of the new interface should turn out to be a boon to the title: while the game is still expansive and ridiculously in-depth in terms of the number of animals to take care of and the care required to operate the garden, it is now in a much less intimidating package that should make the experience a little more inviting to the casual and young audiences that Rare no doubt had in mind when they came up with the property. Also it will be cheaper.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.