First Impressions Of Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise

By now you know Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise is coming to DS, and I couldn't wait to have an early look at it during THQ's Fall/holiday preview event today.

Judging by what I saw, THQ's aiming to take what fans of the original Viva Pinata liked best and put it front-and-center, while also making it portable and by tying it in to the TV series in the hopes of opening frilly neon pinata guts and raining candy down on a whole new audience of fans.

So how's it look?

First Impressions Of Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise

Really exciting, actually. The rep who demoed it for me explained that the real-time strategy-esque elements of the original VP were not so much at home on the console - she'd been a fan of the game, but found herself wishing she could point-and-click to manage things more efficiently.

The stylus controls, she said, provide a more direct access to the interface, and you can zoom in on individual pinatas with just a tap and view various stat screens on them with the buttons. Providing tutorials on all the controls are Fergie, Paulie, Franklin and Hudson from the TV series, and there are full-motion video clips pulled straight from the show (which I confess to occasionally viewing on Saturday mornings. Okay, I almost always watch it. Shut up.)

The game has two modes, also - the traditional mode plus a free-play, sandbox-style mode where money's no object, if you just want to mess around. The thing I found most interesting is that you can ship your pinatas and items even among your own saved games, of which you can have up to three. So if a Sour enters your garden, the rep said, you can box it up and ship it to a different garden of yours. You can also trade among your friends, and some of the pinatas to collect can only be unlocked through trades (think Pokemon).

So it looks like all of the necessities are there for traditional Viva Pinata fans, and new ones may be attracted to the series for the first time by the DS's huge install base, the relationship to the TV show, and the different modes for more accessible play.