by MARTY DEMAREST & r & & r & Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise & r & Rated Everyone; Xbox 360 & r & 2 Stars & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & A & lt;/span & nd now a few responses from this column's readers: & r & & r & "Either you choose to review games that you don't like or you're not really a gamer." Exactly. The original Viva Pi & ntilde;ata was one of my least-favorite Xbox 360 games. I gave it one star and asked it to die. Now I'm eager to review its sequel. Not so that I can discuss any improvements or reveal what publisher Microsoft is doing with their resources instead of designing non-faulty Xboxes. No, I choose to review Viva Pi & ntilde;ata: Trouble in Paradise because I played it and don't like it.

"You need to get a life." No, I need to get a bigger garden. I started out with a few screens full of earth and grass. There was space for a bed of flowers, a couple trees and a pi & ntilde;ata house. That attracted my first few worm pi & ntilde;ata, and I encouraged them to do the "romance dance." Since then, the game has rewarded me with several expansions. I now have enough land to house a mock graveyard, an entire beach (with surfboard stuck in the sand: required by crab pi & ntilde;ata for unknown reasons) and a forest of trees. Yet whenever I try to add something, the game tells me I'm out of space. If I want to import a moose pi & ntilde;ata from the Pi & ntilde;arctic, I'll need to sell off my old achievements, making all that prior gameplay a bit of a waste.

"Are you aware that the misplacement of modifiers and relative pronouns renders your sentences unclear?" Yes, especially for readers born before the advent of Choose Your Own Adventure and videogames. These are works of art that refuse to clarify themselves into any single experience. But there are games like Trouble in Paradise in which the gameplay is unchanging. At first, simple things like specific flowers draw pi & ntilde;ata. Later it's a labyrinthine process of attracting rare pi & ntilde;ata with rare flowers, then requiring rarer pi & ntilde;ata to eat the rare pi & ntilde;ata upon specialized turf. This isn't playful -- it's almost grammatical.

THE GOOD: "You said there's no way to change the view in Too Human. All you have to do is [click the left trigger button]." And the view switches to another identical view. That's the problem with monochromatic backgrounds and lock-step character animations: they look the same no matter where you look. Trouble in Paradise, however, is kaleidoscopic. The far-distant backgrounds differ through 360 degrees. Good pi & ntilde;ata and evil pi & ntilde;ata are composed from separate color schemes, making it possible to spot problems across the garden. Even identical critters move differently. Whatever else I dislike about the game, it has some of the best art direction around.

THE BAD: "Are you a man or a woman?" Yes. Pi & ntilde;ata, however, are neither, despite their ability to make babies. That means capturing one quackberry is the same as capturing another, and those two can yield yet another identical quackberry. Eventually these creatures can be customized (with accessories such as false teeth) or rendered in different colors. But they're the same basic animals, making the raising of pi & ntilde;ata an unsurprising chore.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Trouble in Paradise breaks open Viva Pi & ntilde;ata to reveal a few new treats, but it's still the same basic lifeless beast.

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