Unconventional Science – the Weird world of Viva Piñata

As a break away from shooting things and slashing things and sliding down a mountain on a Chinese hat (damn that Avalanche level of Mini Ninjas), I dug out my copy of Viva Piñata and set about trying to complete it.

I play the game on a demo Xbox back in 2006 when I worked at PC World (I know, I know), and was easily amused by the bright colours and sweet-themed names. Yes, I am a sucker for the cute things, and was sad the first time a Syrupent smashed up my Mousemallow.

The concept is easy enough; make the garden you’re given enticing to various species of piñata animals, fulfill their requirements and they might just stick around. A range of flowers, water plants, fruit trees and bushes are all you need in the early game, as well as a plentiful supply of Whirlms (first piñata you encounter). Just like in real life there’s a food chain that means smaller piñata end up on the list of requirements for bigger piñata.

To start with, it’s all pretty above board. Evil (‘Sour’) piñatas start to turn up after you’ve been given a few levels to get used to things, but you’re sort of guided through how to deal with them and turn them into their ‘sweet’ counterparts. If you list to guide Leafos, you might even learn how to evolve a couple of your basic species into more exotic ones.

And that is where the game diverts from normality to wacky fantasy. Direct a Taffly to fly through a burning torch in your garden, and it’ll set itself on fire. It happens to most piñata at some point. But if you douse the poor Taffly with your watering can, it magically turns into a Reddhott (I have no idea what creature this is meant to be- one of the few I haven’t worked out yet).

My mom and I had a laugh a few months ago when a work colleague of hers revealed that she thought ducks grew up to become geese. The colleague was happy to be to corrected with the news that ducks grow up to be…well, ducks. We all had a giggle about it, and no more was said.
So imagine my surprise when I found out that feeding a gooseberry to the duck piñata Quackberry made it evolve into the GOOSE piñata Juicygoose. Obviously Rare came up with similar lines of thinking as my mom’s colleague when they designed some of the more ‘out there’ aspects of the game.

To get full completion of the game requires at least 50 hours of gameplay. I’m still only halfway towards that, though I’ve managed to collect about three quarters of the available species. One of the more elusive species is the Pigxie, shown below:

A Pigxie. Yep. Courtesy of GamesRadar

Yes, that is indeed a flying pig. And how do you come to own one of these? Simple- crossbreed a swan and a pig.

Hitting a snake egg mid-hatch gives you a two-headed snake, breeding two of these two-headed varieties and hitting their egg with a spade gives you a four-headed offspring. You can turn white butterflies into Flutterscotches of seven different colours. And if you hire a helper to mine in your garden, you can even get a dragon piñata.

Not exactly what you learn in science class- but a strangely amusing and slightly addictive twist on a game of collecting.

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~ by Tegan on May 21, 2012.

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