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Session with Justin Cook and Adam Park and Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

One of the biggest sleepers to hit this generation of Xbox 360 gaming is Viva Pinata. Just a few minutes playing Viva Pinata hooked even the most hardcore Gears of War and Halo fans. The simple yet addictive gameplay locked gamers in for hours-long sessions, and made gamers worldwide obsessed about gardening and piñatas. And according to Rare, it’s because of these hardcore gamers that a sequel was moved forward with.

Designer Justin Cook and Assistant Producer Adam Park were available to walk us through some of the new features in Viva Pinata 2. With Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, Rare is bringing the same inducing game with better graphics, more tools, different gaming modes, co-op play, and yes, more piñatas.

Visually, don’t expect a big departure from the art style from the first game. The colorful landscape, and wild (and possibly too cute) piñatas are back – but the game features some really gorgeous dyamic lighting effects.

There are 30 new piñatas (and their own respective variants, we believe) in addition to the ones you’ve come to grow and love. Most VP pros built multiple gardens, tailoring each to a particular environment, and this will be even more important with the sequel, as two new environments, the desert and snow, are introduced to the series.

New toys and items are brought into the game as well, like a train track, and race cars which your piñatas will interact and play with, and some items can alter the weather – but as nice as a peaceful little garden full of piñatas is, Professor Pester has an evil plot to disrupt everything you’ve worked so hard to create.

Some new tools that are being introduced to the game are a photo mode, which will allow you to take photos of your garden and piñatas and upload them to the internet to share, and a piñata finder tool that will let you scroll through all your piñatas to jump immediately to any particular one. A seed bag tool allows the player to skip the shop to scroll through a variety of seeds (including snow) to create your garden efficiently.

One new feature that is particularly innovative uses the Xbox Live Vision camera – the system allows a player to take any image of a piñata (either printed or digitally rendered from any monitor or portable media player), and instantly create that piñata for your own garden. Sharing piñatas has never been easier! Fortunately, you can also choose to work for the piñatas by attracting them normally, but this feature is definitely captivating.

Of course quite possibly the biggest feature is the addition of co-op play – both local and over Xbox Live!

Finally, there’s the addition of an “easy” mode of sorts, that contains no bad pinatas, and lets players just explore the game without having to stress too much.

Look for a demo sometime before the September release of Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, in addition to a Nintendo DS version.

We can’t wait to have this sequel eat up our lives this summer!

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