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Viva Piñata

"What if there was a place where every Piñata was a living, breathing creature? What if YOU were given the land and the tools to build them a home? What if the box you hold in your hands right now was one of those tools? Welcome to Viva Piñata – they're waiting for you inside..." So went one of the pitches for Viva Piñata that was probably never used but still remains accurate. Very much a pet project at Rare, this game that started life as a mobile phone/PDA project knew essentially what it was going to be right from the start. The garden populated with customisable, tradeable animals was always at its heart, but only when our concept artists delved into traditional Mexican piñata colours and patterns did we find a way to guarantee that it would stand out from the crowd. From there, the path leading to the Viva Piñata we now know and love was relatively straight and uncluttered, and one that we were thankfully well-positioned to follow. Expanding the Xbox 360 demographic was one of Rare's key tasks when it became a Microsoft first-party studio, thanks to its heritage of games with classic all-ages appeal, so the VP team worked hard to give Viva Piñata something that would grab everyone from young children to veteran gamers. The player was recruited into the game to nurture an abandoned garden back to life, taking their place in the story of Piñata Island and its task of supplying only the best and happiest Piñatas to parties around the world. Shovels, seeds and watering cans, romance dances, tinkering and online crate deliveries would all became vital parts of the adventure. Of course every story needs a villain, and Professor Pester and his gang of Ruffians were only too keen to step up and cause chaos wherever they could. Sour Piñatas also made a nuisance of themselves, but at least with some effort a sharp gardener could rehabilitate those wayward souls.