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Video Game / Viva Piñata

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Sure, it's all smiles and cuteness now. But then comes the cannibalism and inbreeding...

"Don't beat em, join em!"

Viva Piñata is a video game series developed by Rare. It is primarily a Mons farm Simulation Game.

The player takes on the role of a Piñata Gardener on Piñata Island, a world of animated Piñatas all styled after various animals. The player is presented a ruined patch of dirt and tasked with terraforming and expanding it into a Piñata Garden, which is part zoo and part ranch. The player begins by attracting Whirlms, simple worm Piñatas. You breed them, sell some offspring and use others to feed to wild Piñatas to attract new types to your garden, or send them off to parties to make money. This gives you cash to improve your garden further, which unlocks more options and attracts more Piñatas, following a food chain.

It's a sandbox game, but the ultimate goal is to attract all 60 (100 in later games) breeds of Piñata to your garden and become a Master Romancer (i.e., breed them like crazy), for every single species.

The series includes Viva Piñata (2006), Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (2008) and Party Game Viva Piñata: Party Animals (2007) for the Xbox 360, as well as Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise (2008) for the Nintendo DS.

The series was a Sleeper Hit on the Xbox 360. Microsoft wanted the game to be its answer to Pokémon, but it didn't work out for several reasons: the game looked like a children's game but actually comprised challenging Sim management tasks that kids just couldn't handle. At times, the games dip into Nintendo Hard or Guide Dang It!, with the in-game Exposition Fairy actually lying to the player at points to mislead them. The original game was also launched with a tie-in animated series (featuring Talking Animal Piñatas throwing parties) that wasn't even slightly representative of how the games actually play (although occasionally a reference to a game mechanic is made, and is even the main plot point of a few episodes). The game was also much more morbid than it seemed at first appearance, with a food chain of Piñatas killing each other and feasting on their candy innards being required to progress in the game.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Whenever two Piñatas fight each other, they shoot random objects at each other. Sometimes tangentially themed to the Piñata in question, sometimes less so.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the console games, wild piñatas are black and white. In Pocket Paradise, they're very light grey.
  • Alien Blood: They're Piñatas. They bleed candy.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: Most of the Dessert Desert's accompanying soundtrack and native piñatas (as well as their homes) have clear Old World inspiration, but there are also cacti, plants endemic to the Americas. Justified because it's set on a fictional island.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Exaggerated Trope. Not only every resident Piñata is extremely colourful, but each species has three colour variants obtainable by feeding them specific items. The Nintendo DS game only has one variant for each piñata, however.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Averted only with Moozipans' and Flapyaks' udders.
  • Anti-Trolling Features: There are three levels of permission that can be granted on network multiplayer games, each with various levels of restrictions on non-host players. Even the most permissive one, Full Permissions, blocks non-host players from selecting Wildcard piñatas to sell, breaking them with a shovel, or stealing them by trying to package them in a crate then sending them to themselves (the option to send a crate disappears if one is selected). Non-hosts are never able to access the Garden Store either, though this might be so that players can't get an extra Amber needed to acquire the normally Single Specimen Species Choclodocus.
  • The Artifact: In Trouble in Paradise, dry soil is removed. Despite this, Leafos still claims that a Whirlm turned up by the player uncovering soil.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Professor Pester's AI isn't particularly refined. In Trouble in Paradise, he can be kept out of your garden by putting an Insurmountable Waist-High Fence at the area he comes in.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Peanuts (or Monkeynuts, as they are referred to in-game) are shown as growing from the branches of a tree. In Real Life, peanuts grow on subterranean stems of a non-woody plant (which is why they are in a separate category from tree-nuts.)
    • It's believed that scorpions with larger pincers and are less toxic than those with smaller ones because it means they rely less on their sting. However, the Sour S'morepion in Trouble in Paradise has huge pincers, a bulbous sting, and paralyzes piñatas thanks to Rule of Scary.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The map in Trouble in Paradise is ridiculous in too many ways to count; most notably (and the reason why this image was uploaded), sizeable islands like New Zealand and Japan are nowhere to be seen, but hilariously, they added Iceland, a speck Northeast of Madagascar, and even what appear to be the Galapagos islands! Perhaps justified by the franchise's stylized designs.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Fizzlybears who are all shy, inoffensive creatures.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: The S'morepion paralyzes piñatas as a Sour, but does it to Ruffians instead when tamed.
  • Big Bad: Professor Pester's the one in charge of the Ruffians, as well as the one who destroyed Jardiniero's garden and corrupted Stardos into Dastardos. He'll also try to ruin your garden in any way he can, ranging from sending his Ruffians out to cause havoc to blocking important species to outright smashing your most valuable Piñata - figuring out how to deal with him is one of the main goals of the game once he shows up.
  • Bigger on the Inside: All houses. Piñatas actually shrink when entering them.
  • Boring, but Practical: Many "utility" Piñatas, though not flashy, provide valuable services to your garden. Things such as the Taffly's ability to make fertilizer, the Cluckles' ability to quickly hatch eggs, and the Buzzlegum/Goobaa/Moozipan providing a steady stream of income (if properly accessorized) are useful, if not fancy.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: And Parental Incest! Piñatas will romance with anyone regardless of family boundaries.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The Newtgat isn't based on the newt, but rather on the axolotl.
  • The Cameo: Banjo, Kazooie, Mumbo and Captain Blackeye appear as statues.
  • Camera Abuse: In Professor Pester's introduction cinematic, he hits the screen, the view falls to the ground and the screen goes black as if it were a camera.
  • Cheap Gold Coins: Golden Coins are worth as much as just ten bronze coins.
  • Com Mons: Whirlms only require there to be dirt in your garden. They're followed by Sparrowmints, which only need Whirlms. If you leave your game sitting for a while and there's enough room left, you'll eventually have two of both in your garden.
  • Company Cross References: There are several accessories and items that reference past Rare games:
    • Banjo-Kazooie: Banjo's backpack and necklace, Kazooie's talons and boots, Captain Blackeye, Grunty and Jamjars' hats and a pair of Jiggy-based earrings are all available as accessories. Banjo, Kazooie, Mumbo and Blackeye also appear as statues.
    • Conker's Bad Fur Day: The Conkerific Helmet is based on the squirrel solders' helmet design from the War chapter.
    • Jet Force Gemini: Juno's helmet and Vela's hair and boots are accessories.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Many of the things that Leafos claims are true when selected are totally false (e.g. the way she claims certain Piñatas transform is impossible), and some of the things she decries as ridiculous are true.
  • Constantly Lactating Cow: Moozipans and Flapyaks are able to produce milk by simply feeding them a sunflower and then directing them to a milking shed. If they are wearing a bell, the sunflower isn't even required.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Trouble in Paradise, the credits are a minigame in which you can smash piñatas to get the credits to show up and earn the extremely useful wishing well. You can also smash the garden junk that Professor Pester has strewn around to unlock some accessories, and smashing all of his sour piñatas awards you with a new gamerpic.
  • Creature-Breeding Mechanic: One of the main points of the series is its "romancing" system. Outside of one very specific case, romancing is only useful for producing more piñatas of species you already own. However, romancing is essential for meeting the population requirements that some wild piñatas have.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: Leafos says that you will be able to tame sour Mallowolves the day Rashberries fly. In order to tame them, you need at least one flying Pigxie, obtained by Romancing a Rashberry and a Swanana.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In a predator-prey battle, you'd better stop the predator quick. The prey doesn't even stand a chance.
    • If a Ruffian picks a fight with one of your piñatas, it will always come out the winner.
  • Darker and Edgier: Fighting in Pocket Paradise. In the PC and Console versions, the loser only gets sick. In Pocket Paradise, the winner eats the loser, regardless of the species of either.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In order to tame a Sour Boonboon, you need to have it defeated by a snake Piñata.
  • Delivery Stork: Storkos, appropriately enough.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Many of the romance dances, especially Twingersnap and S'morepion.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": All unnamed Piñatas are, by default, called by their species' name and a number (e.g. Horstachio 3).
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing on Just For Fun mode in Trouble in Paradise makes catching piñatas much easier, starts you off with infinite coins and enemies like the sour piñatas, Ruffians and Professor Pester won't enter your garden, but it also renders several high-level piñatas like the Dragonache and Choclodocus completely unobtainable. If you want to catch any of those piñatas, you'll have to play the Standard mode instead and transfer them over to the Just For Fun garden. As the romance minigame is also removed, you cannot obtain wildcard piñatas and must also transfer them in from a Standard garden, and you can't transfer piñatas obtained in a Just For Fun garden to Standard gardens.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Ruffians may enjoy destroying property, starting fights, filling up your lakes and generally causing all sorts of mayhem, but even they have to draw the line somewhere; trapping a helper in your garden and rendering them unable to go home will eventually cause a Ruffian to come by and break them out.
  • Evil Minions: The Ruffians are this to Professor Pester.
  • Faceless Mooks: The Ruffians are dressed with masks covering most of their bodies.
  • Fictional Currency: Chocolate coins.
  • Fungi Are Plants: The journal places the toadstool in the plants section, and it even grows from planted seeds! Strangely (and thankfully), its tinkered form, mushrooms, are excluded.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Chocolate coins come in four variants with increasing size: bronze, silver, gold and large gold coins.
  • Good Costume Switch: Converted Sour Piñatas assume a far friendlier look once tamed, dropping their red and black color scheme and becoming cuter.
  • Gluttonous Pig: The Rashberry species. In order to romance them, they need to eat several items that have gone rotten. If they eat a hunk of cheesecake, they transform into Hoghurts.
  • G-Rated Sex: Piñatas dance with each other, which causes eggs to be dropped off by Storkos.
  • Griefer: Ruffians will smash your possessions, cough up toxic candies, fill your ponds with dirt and run off with your gardening staff just for the sake of it. They will go away if you give them money, thought.
  • A Head at Each End: The Twingersnap and Fourheads breed of snakes.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sour Piñatas will convert into their regular counterparts after their resident requirements are met.
  • Hermaphrodite: Piñatas are supposed to be genderless, but since breeding (excuse us, romancing) Piñatas is a major part of gameplay, this is probably a more accurate description.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Costalot, to an extent. While she's definitely greedy, she isn't quite at the "Sell her own grandma to make a quick buck" level some Honest Johns are. She does occasionally slip and call you a "money bag" and say other things that are vaguely insulting, though.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Piñatas eat candy. Piñatas are full of candy. If you break a Piñata open, you can feed its candy to another Piñata. Even if it's from a Piñata of the same species.
  • Interspecies Romance: It's possible to Romance a Rashberry with a Swanana to create a Pigxie.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The clock simulates daily cycles. Diurnal and nocturnal Piñatas are awake at different times.
  • It Amused Me: The Ruffians' main motivation, since they like the Piñatas' candy and breaking things.
  • King of Beasts: The Roario, which is the strongest and most valuable Piñata after the Dragonache.
  • Metamorphosis Monster:
    • Some Piñatas can evolve into others when certain conditions are met.
    • Sour Piñatas converting into their good counterparts counts as well.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
  • Multiple Head Case: Carefully smack a Syrupent’s egg with your shovel and it’ll come out as a Twingersnap, a two-headed snake whose waiting animation involves the heads attacking each other. If you manage to do the same thing to a Twingersnap egg, then it’ll double up and become the aptly named Fourheads.
  • Nerf: The Captain's Cutlass decoration got this in the transition to Trouble in Paradise; it used to be able to keep both the Ruffians and Professor Pester himself out of your garden, but Pester became immune to it in the sequel.
  • Noble Wolf: Tamed Mallowolves will help the player by scaring Ruffians off.
  • No Ending: Literally. The game remains an open sandbox once the final congratulation message is displayed without permanently dealing with either Professor Pester or Dastardos, outside of being able to buy items to keep them out of your garden.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Piñatas never die, technically. When they're broken open, they re-form in their original monochrome appearance outside your garden's borders. They're still as good as dead to you, though.
  • Palette Swap: Each Piñata has three color variants obtainable by feeding them a certain object. The Flutterscotch variants have different models in the Xbox 360 games, but they're just palette swaps in Pocket Paradise.
  • Patchwork Map: Trouble in Paradise has two new terrain options that can be placed wherever the player chooses - snow and sand.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In the first game, the gold Dragonache variant can only be obtained by hatching its egg on dry soil (the kind the garden's covered in at the start of the game). If all the dry soil is flattened out, there's no way to get any more, making the gold variant unobtainable for that garden. Trouble in Paradise later fixed that problem by removing dry soil altogether and making the gold variant obtainable by hatching the egg on golden paving, which is easily bought from Costolot's store.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The signature color of sour Piñatas, weeds and Ruffians.
  • Rhino Rampage: The Sour Limeoceros in Trouble in Paradise uses its brute strength to obliterate structures in the player's garden (plus one in the appear cutscene that references BanjoKazooie), but when tamed, it instead rams Professor Pester far outside the garden.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: A great many Piñatas fall under this.
  • Savage Wolves: Sour Mallowolves.
  • Series Mascot: The Horstachio is one of the Piñatas most likely to be seen in promotional materials, with the Pretztail and Fudgehog also being common.
  • Shout-Out: The Sarsgorilla is an obvious one to Donkey Kong. One of its romance requirements requires it to wear a tie, it attacks other Piñatas with barrels, and the journal even makes a note of how similar they are. Unsurprising considering this game is made by the same company that developed the Donkey Kong Country games.
    Here we go again, another video game with a big ape in it. Can someone explain to me why the guys who write games are so fascinated with really big apes?
  • Shown Their Work: The description of the Chocolodocus. With much lampshade hanging.
    Were there prehistoric Pinatas? I thought Pinatas were discovered in China by Marco Polo who then brought them to Europe. The tradition then transferred to South America by Spanish explorers. All this was a long time after dinosaurs. It's as if someone wanted be cool without thinking it through properly.
  • Simulation Game: The garden is yours to rebuild and repopulate. The sky's not quite the limit, but it's fun up until you start hitting the game's boundaries.
  • Sleep-Mode Size: You can return the Dragonache to an egg at any time, turning it back into its more small and cuddly baby form.
  • Smelly Skunk: A Smelba, a pink skunk piñata, from Trouble in Paradise can be commanded to scare Ruffians away, by breathing a dark green cloud of Visible Odor. A wild Smelba needs to eat three rotten garlics before becoming a resident of the garden, and a resident Smelba needs to eat two air fresheners and hold a romantic flower before it can romance. Also, the journal's description for the Gas Mask accessory mentions that most Piñatas use the Gas Mask when sharing a garden with Smelbas.
  • Socialization Bonus: Each piñata in Trouble in Paradise has three wildcard versions that change an aspect of their appearance. However, each player only has access to a random two of these versions in-game; to get the third, they have to obtain one from another player who was lucky enough to get it.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: In Pocket Paradise, the piñatas, characters, and produce are 3D models, while the backgrounds, buildings, and plants are pre-rendered sprites.
  • Suicidal Lemmings: While regular Lemmonings show no suicidal tendencies in the game like they do in the cartoon, Sour Lemmonings will self-destruct when angered, leaving behind sour candy and weed seeds.
  • Take That!: In-universe, the Pudgeon house is a statue of Professor Pester covered in poop.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Most Piñatas need to eat certain food (or other Piñatas, in case of predators) to join your garden.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can fill a once dead piece of land with life and treat your Piñatas and helpers with care and respect.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • In addition to outright smashing and inbreeding your Piñatas, you can also beat them senseless, deliberately poison them by feeding them sour candy, toadstools, or nightshade berries, set them on fire with a tiki torch (this is actually required to evolve a Taffly into a Reddhott), or aggravate them into to getting into fights.
    • It doesn't just extend to the titular piñatas; you can also attack NPCs who come into your garden with your shovel and trap them in enclosed spaces using fences.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • If you beat up Seedos, he'll spread a bunch of weeds when he comes back. You can hit him to stop him from spreading weed seeds, but doing so will cause him to spread even more when he returns again. Do this too many times, and he will eventually stand in a spot where you can't hit him so he can throw so many weed seeds in your garden that you have no hope of clearing them all out before they all sprout and ruin your garden.
    • Repeatedly hitting Leafos with your shovel or watering her with your watering can results in her temporarily taking the offending tool away from you.
  • Villainous Glutton: Upon smashing your most valuable piñata, Professor Pester will eat ALL the candy inside.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Later in the game you are able to ward Dastardos and Professor Pester off from entering your garden ever again, but that's as far as their resolution goes.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Leafos will call you out if you hit her with your shovel or water her with your watering can. Doing either of the offending actions repeatedly results in her temporarily confiscating said tool. She'll also call you out if you mistreat your Piñatas/helpers to the point of leaving your garden.
  • A Winner Is You: The closest thing the game has to an ending is a congratulatory message from Jardiniero.
  • You Bastard!:
    • You get Reddhotts by setting Tafflies on fire and then dousing them.
      Imagine scorching the furniture when you sit on it. Imagine having to move every few seconds because if you don't, the ground underneath you sets alight. What kind of life is that? Who is responsible for this?
    • Seedos calling you a bully for taking his seeds with force. Later subverted, as Leafos says you are making Seedos stay fit by running away from your garden as fast as possible.
    • Leafos will call you out if you mistreat your helpers or piñatas to the point where they leave your garden and don't come back.