With development on Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise now wrapped up, IGN got some face time with producer Paul Machacek to discuss numerous aspects of the project, from the challenges of remaking an Xbox 360 game on the DS to some of the modes that the handheld version will support.
The most heartening news of all is that Pocket Paradise sounds likes a fairly faithful interpretation of the charming 360 game. Technical limitations mean that the fully 3D world has had to be scrapped in favor of a hybrid 2D/3D environment, but every piñata is fully modeled in 3D (to aid "really fluid, smooth animation"), and Rare even managed to echo some of the papery fur rendering in the grass texture. There are FMV sequences galore, featuring both romance dances and excerpts from the TV series.
Absolutely everything can be controlled with the stylus (buttons can be used for shortcuts), and there's a wireless mode which allows players to send crates packed with whatever they like to their friends' gardens (though no online mode, unfortunately). Oh, and alongside the main garden, there is a Sandbox mode, described by Machacek as "great for younger players to play with their favorite pets [or] to demonstrate a particular piñata to your friends that you've already found but have since removed from your garden."
As much as we're irritated by Viva Piñata for repeatedly making us hunt for that "n" with the funny squiggle above it, we're now getting increasingly keen to give this a whirl. Anyone else feel the same way?