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Viva Pinata's birthday brings old-school assets

Viva Pinata's UK birthday is just around the corner and in celebration Rare is opening up their super secret chest of hidden Pinata game assets and revealing all kinds of info nuggets. Every day, from now through Viva Pinata's birthday on December 1st, BIGSheep over on the Pinata Island forums will post a special Pinata goody for everyone to enjoy. Today's gems include early Pinata drawings, the first general game description and a screenshot taken from the very first game build. And, if you look close enough, you'll notice that they used some recycled Banjo and Kazooie models too. Enjoy your daily trek over to Pinata Island to get a Pinata nugget and be sure to wish your Fizzlybear a happy birthday come December 1st.

Rare: GoW took Viva Piñata'a marketing cash

In an interview with Gamasutra, James Thomas and Justin Cook (two members of Rare's development team) talked about the history of Viva Piñata and how hard it has been targeting a new family-IP to the stereotypically hardcore Xbox 360 gamers. Specifically, Thomas mentioned that last Fall, publisher Microsoft Game Studios left little in the Viva Piñata marketing bank and instead sunk more focus and effort into their new Gears of War franchise. Thomas commented saying that,

"So much of the [marketing] money went towards Gears of War, which is going to sell millions anyway. It was a bit of like, 'What about the other franchise?' I think we got left in the wake somewhat."

Here at X3F we've always been enthusiastic about Viva Piñata and give it nothing but praise. But, even for us, trying to get other gamers to try the game is a bit of a task seeing that it is somewhat nontraditional. Maybe Microsoft didn't do a good job at marketing it and maybe Gears of War was more important last year, but we have confidence in their commitment to bringing the somewhat under-achieving Viva Piñata franchise into focus again ... heck, we've got BK toys to prove it.

Viva Piñata aids in gamer's marriage proposal

Hey kids, Viva Piñata isn't just a great game that'll help keep you entertained and improve your gardening skills, but it can also be used for marriage proposals too!

PINATAcast over on the Piñata Island forums did just that, he proposed to his girlfriend by using Viva Piñata and sending her an in game crate filled with a single diamond (the only diamond his diggerling has ever unearthed) with the message "will you marry me?". She was playing on her console in the other room and when she received the message, giggling and laughter could be heard, because she thought it was a silly joke. But PINATAcast was serious and went down on his knee asking for her hand in marriage again. Knowing that he was serious, she started crying, said yes and their wedding is tentatively scheduled for this Spring. Congrats PINATAcast, your interesting proposal worked and we hope you have a happy marriage filled with lots of sugary sweets and fuzzy Bunnycombs. Those damn Bunnycombs are so cute.

[Via Joystiq]

No Viva Piñata DLC coming, evar!

Fellow Viva Piñata fans, if you've been waiting ever so patiently for some new downloadable content to hit the Marketplace then developer Rare has some bitterly sad news for you. In their somewhat monthly Scribes column, where the team answers fans' letters and questions, Rare fielded a question about the possibility of some new content for Viva Piñata. Their answer ... not a chance, more specifically they said that "we aren't doing any downloadable content for Viva Piñata because we are much too busy doing something else...". Too busy for Viva Piñata? We raise an eyebrow to that!

Even though we didn't expect to see any new Viva Piñata DLC hit the Marketplace a year after its release, this official confirmation is somewhat sad. But we don't need it, you're fine the way you are Viva Piñata and don't let anyone tell you differently.

[Via Xbox 360 Rally]

Rare is bringing Viva Piñata to the DS

During the final day of Comic Con, Rare held a Viva Piñata panel discussion and made a surpeise announcement that Viva Piñata will be heading to the Nintendo DS. So, it looks like Shane Kim's talk of bringing the franchise to the DS making sense ended up being one of those sly hints of things to come. Viva Piñata on the DS is being developed by Rare and will be very similar to its lovably fun Xbox 360 version featuring the same core gameplay elements. Nothing more about the DS version was mentioned other than it'll be teh awesomeness, but we'd like to hear when the DS version will hit retail, if it'll incorporate the DS's wireless features and how pretty it is.

So, there you have it fanboys. Viva Piñata will be on the Nintendo DS and Horstachio will have a new condo to call home. Touch screen and all!

13 minutes of Viva Piñata: Party Animals

Our friends at Piñata Island -- these guys -- have gotten their candy-stained hands on a thirteen minute video of Viva Piñata: Party Animals. The video was taken with the lead designer, Cameron Davis, of Krome Studios, developers of Party Animals. The video shows off several of the mini-games, as well as the races, which serve as the transition between mini-games. All of the games -- save the racing sections -- are controlled via the left stick and a single button, which Davis says should allow anyone to pick up and play the title. The game also includes drop-in / drop-out versus play, so anyone can join or leave a game at any time. Finally, Davis reveals that the E3 demo should be available on Xbox Live Marketplace in the near future. Hit the "read" link to check out the video.

X3F hands-on: Viva Pinata: Party Animals

As a game designed to appeal to a younger audience, Viva Piñata had one fault that probably stood out the most: other than the cutesy characters, it wasn't really designed to appeal to a younger audience. The game is fairly complicated and requires some pretty intense micromanagement in later levels (at least it does if you want to advance). Furthermore, VP does almost nothing to capitalize on the children's property around which it is centered. The various piñatas, which are wacky and wisecracking characters on the children's program, are little more than grunting, mindless animals in the game. With Viva Piñata: Party Animals, Microsoft looks to take on all these problems at once. We took it for a spin at E3 to see what sets it apart.

Continue reading X3F hands-on: Viva Pinata: Party Animals

Everyone has a Viva Piñata confession

It's true. We confess. We love Viva Piñata and we always have. And Viva Piñata Confessions has taught us that we aren't weird, we don't have a problem and that our love of the game isn't something we should be embarrassed about. Even our rebel of a game designer Cliffy B loves himself some Viva Piñata every once and a while. You too can come clean, you too can let go of all the built up anxiety and just do it ... confess. Confess that you love Viva Piñata and aren't afraid to tell the world.

And if our inspirational talk doesn't make you believe in the wonder that is Viva Piñata, be sure to check out the embedded video after the break. Those piñatas truly have an affect on a person's brain.

Continue reading Everyone has a Viva Piñata confession

Create-a-Rare-Developer results are in!

The winner of Piñata Island's Create-a-Rare-Developer contest has been chosen. For those that don't recall, the purpose of the contest was to create a new piñata species (named after a Rare developer) for Viva Piñata. It looks like Piñata Island received loads of outstanding entries. In the end, though, it was the Goldipop (pictured above) that beat the odds and won the grand prize (a wild-card piñata). The piñata is named after Andy Pollington, fights with anchors and contains delicious orange suckers. Hit the "read" link to check out the runners-up and honorable mentions.

Has a 360 game inspired you to create anything artistic lately?

Viva Piñata gets parents' approval

Everyone's favorite piñata growing simulator Viva Piñata has received top honors from a collective group we call "parents". The Parents' Choice Foundation awarded Viva Piñata with the Parents' Choice Award in gaming for its "excellent production values, universal human values, appeal to children, and age appropriateness". We're sure it's an honor, but we wonder if such an award will deter older gamers from picking up the game. We know how sensitive some fanboys can be when it comes to their gamercard and playing "children's games", so does the new Parents' Choice Award further embarrass/deter those who are uneasy about trying Viva Piñata?

Create-a-Rare-Developer, win wild-card piñata

Our piñata loving friends over at Piñata Island are holding a contest where the winners will receive an extremely rare in-game Viva Piñata wild-card piñata. To win, all you have to do is pick a name of a developer off of the credits list and make a piñata that you feel best fits that person. Draw a piñata, build one out of wood, or use paper mache, it's up to you. Oh, and be sure to make up a brief back story for the little guy too. One lucky winner will have the choice of picking a discovered or undiscovered wild-card piñata or have a Mystery Crate sent to them. Three other runners up will get a discovered wild-card piñata of their choice. All entries must be posted on the forum by May 5th, so find a developer and make a piñata already!

[Thanks, jimmcq]

Those silly, little, inbreeding Whirlms

The latest VG Cats comic features one of our favorite Xbox 360 games, Viva Piñata! Actually, the comic focuses on the darker side of our piñata game ... a side few have the courage to openly talk about. You'll have to read the comic to get the full impact, but let's just say giving too much power to a Viva Piñata gardener can have twisted consequences. Guys, we all know inbreeding Whirlms isn't acceptable in our society, but the answer is not feeding a Whirlm baby their parent's "candy". Sick, sick sick ... this is just sick.

Microsoft's posse leads in NAViGaTR nominations

The nominees for the 2006 National Academy of Video Game Testers and Reviewers (NAViGaTR) awards were just announced with Microsoft leading the pack in nominations count. Microsoft garnered 29 nominations for various games including games like Gears of War and Viva Piñata. Speaking of Gears, it's up for an amazing 16 nominations including Graphics/Technical and Game of the Year. With over 1,150 media critics, analysts, and journalists making the final decision, we'll be keeping our eyes open on May 20th to see if Gears can add to its ever expanding trophy case.

[Via TeamXbox]

Viva Piñata demo now available

A demo of Viva Piñata is now available on Xbox Live Marketplace. Clocking in at just under a gig, the demo promises to let you raise your own sparrowmint piñata. Viva Piñata vets will know that sparrowmints are available fairly early in the game, but the demo should give players about 30 minutes to an hour plenty of gameplay. Considering the high hopes that Microsoft originally pinned on the game, we wonder why it took this long to release a demo. With any luck, maybe this will convince more gamers that Viva Piñata is worth checking out. Trust us, if you give it a chance, you'll find that Viva Piñata is very addictive.

Update: It looks like the demo has more gameplay than we thought. Enjoy.

Win a Viva Piñata coffee mug! (coffee not included)

Over at Piñata Island (the information epicenter of all things Viva Piñata) they are running a contest and giving away a few Viva Piñata coffee mugs. All you have to do to enter is edit the wiki in any shape, way, or form three times between now and March 2nd. They'll then randomly select a few winners who'll receive piñata mug goodness. That's not all that hard now is it? Anyone up for changing the Horstachio wiki page to read "Definition: When you kill a prostitute and hide her beneath your hotel room bed"? Yeah ... the whitty Cliffy B came up with that one.

[Thanks, jimmcq]

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