Friday, September 5, 2008

How Sweet is the Shepherd's Sweet Lot: Rickey Reviews “Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise”

Today, we venture about as far away from politics as one could possibly get. Today, we discuss the zen tranquility of gardening (well sort of anyway). You see, Rickey, faced with the increased possibility of our next President ordering a full scale nuclear strike on the nation of Moldavia because he couldn’t figure out how to program his VCR to record Matlock, has opted to retreat from the realm of politics for the time being and delve into a far simpler and peaceful realm. A realm of lush trees, green grass, and playful piñata animals. Today, Rickey reviews Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise for the Xbox 360.

And now that you’ve realized that Rickey has completely lost his mind, allow us to attempt explain to you the allure of this title. You see, sometimes, Rickey likes to forsake the frag-fests of more “mature” titles like Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4 (when we all get drafted to invade Moldavia, we’re going to be doing the real thing anyway, right?) Sometimes, Rickey likes to beat his swords into plowshares and revel in the sublime pleasure of tilling the earth. And that’s precisely what Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise allows Rickey to do. To the best of our knowledge, it’s the world’s only gardening videogame, and it’s a damned fine one to boot. Also, it has the added distinction of being the only videogame that Ms. Henderson will agree to play with Rickey (despite Rickey’s best efforts, shoot ‘em up games featuring bloodthirsty space marines still tend to offend her delicate sensibilities).

Now, Microsoft, true to its idiotic form, isn’t marketing this fantastic game at all, so for the understandably uninformed, here’s the basic premise in the Viva Piñata world: you are a gardener. Your arsenal consists of a shovel, a watering can, and a packet of grass seeds. You plant, water, and fertilize flowers, trees, bushes, and other organic miscellany in an attempt to lure colorful anthropomorphic piñata animals into your garden. Once they’re there, your job is to make them happy, in the hopes of mating them and creating baby piñatas. And woo boy, Rickey would love to see Rick Santorum’s take on two rainbow colored piñata squirrels doing “the romance dance” as the game playfully refers to it. The game is rated “E for Everyone,” so obviously there’s nothing tawdry going on here, just a whole lot of crazy critters romping about and forsaking modern birth control, much like the Palin family. And while this gardening premise may seem shallow to the seasoned gamer, Rickey cannot emphasize enough how easy it is to get sucked into the world of videogame gardening. The sheer variety of piñata inhabitants that come bounding into your garden is overwhelming. One minute it’s a colorful wobbly lamb, the next it’s a slinky tiger, thus prompting a “did he who made the piñata lamb make thee?” comment in the Henderson household. Although the game looks like something that only young players would enjoy, but as Kipling might say (assuming he had access to an Xbox), the glory of your piñata garden lies in more than meets the eye. There’s a huge amount of depth and freedom here, allowing you to sculpt a stately and manicured English garden, a wild and untamed Eden-like garden, and everything in between. Yes, Viva Piñata is primarily aimed at the same audience that might enjoy the animated TV show of the same name. However, much like hitting things with sticks or eating candy, you're never too old for Viva Piñata’s appeal merely because you can get into R-rated movies, drive a car, or claim a pension.

At this point, you’re most likely wondering: “Why not just start a real garden, jackass? With real plants that aren’t, you know, imaginary?” Well friend, Rickey and Ms. Henderson are currently renters, and other than the landlady allowing Rickey to harvest fresh mint from her garden for his mojitos and occasionally leaving overripe fruit from her garden at their doorstep, Rickey doesn’t have any horticultural resources at his disposal. So for the time being, Rickey will just have to make do with his “Lawnmower Man” gardening simulation. Besides, the inhabitants of real gardens are absolutely nowhere as cute and as their piñata brethren.

Indeed, one of the major hooks to this game is just how goddamned adorable it is. We’re talking about tons of doe eyed critters that would give the folks over at Cute Overload a collective full-blown diabetic attack. Even the snakes are cute. We don’t care what planet you’re from, if two fuzzy piñata rabbits splashing about playfully in the water doesn’t warm your cockles then we’re sorry, but you’re a cold hearted bastard and there might very well be something wrong with you. And this is where Rickey’s decidedly unhealthy emotional attachment to piñata critters comes into play. Rickey doesn’t care if it’s weeds, poisonous candy, or garden wrecking ruffians, if you fuck with Rickey’s piñata animals, Rickey will fuck you back with the intensity of a thousand angry Norse Gods of War. Contributing to Rickey’s misanthropic gaming tendencies is how Viva Piñata allows the player to name their own animals. So for the sake of argument, let’s say that you wanted to name your newt piñata Newt Gingrich and your weasel piñata Alan Colmes, you can do precisely that and watch these two natural enemies go at it in your makeshift garden political arena (what, you thought we’d actually forsake our usual half-baked political commentary here at RwR?)

But rest assured, you don’t have to be a crazy as Rickey to enjoy this terrific game. Ultimately, Viva Piñata is a game that's extremely difficult to dislike, a game that just oozes charm and personality from its every paper maché covered pore. Rickey highly recommends this game to anyone for a bit of playful frivolity and urges you to govern yourself accordingly.

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13 comments:

Alex L said...

I had, well I still have a gamecube, I just never play it. But it was always tempting to get 'animal crossing' a game largely about farming, something about it just seemed cool, plus the fact you could never really fail makes it better than a nomral garden.

It makes me sad though that the future Mrs Henderson will miss out on the fun of chainsaw dueling in Gears 2.

Rickey Henderson said...

Something tells Rickey that Ms. Henderson wouldn't be too keen on curb stomping the denizens of the locust horde...

Ed in Westchester said...

Ed wonders why Rickey's url has "ricky" instead of "Rickey".

Anonymous said...

lol

Anonymous said...

lol

Haley said...

Oooo... psychadelic bunnies... I could get into that game.

Toasty Joe said...

I want to invent a new XBox game called "Community Organizer." You go around helping minorities stay off drugs and feeding the poor, while Rudy Giuliani laughs at you. Rated "G" for "Giuliani Smokes Cock."

Ed in Westchester said...

I sense some hostility toward Rudy by Toasty.

Toasty Joe said...

You sense correctly.

David said...

If it was Viva Mojitos I likely would appreciate Rickey's enthusiasm.

Does Rickey's lovely neighborhood not have any community victory garden spaces where Rickey could adopt a plot and indulge his horticulturual fantasies?

As it happens my coop apt in the heart of DC has a large and sunny balcony where I can pretend to garden...ok, some pots of flowers and some pots of herbs but that works for me.

Diesel said...

I'm not much of a gamer, but that actually sounds kind of cool. Maybe I'll have some time to play video games when my novel is done... in 2014.

Rickey Henderson said...

Ed: true to form, Rickey fucked up. Big time. 'Nuff said about all that.

Toasty: right on sir. There's never enough indignation on the proper side of things to make Rickey happy.

David: community horticulture, you say? You appear to have mistaken Rickey for some shaggy haired hippie... for shame sir, for shame.

Diesel: despite this game being sold by your major competitor, Rickey strongly advises that you pick it up.

Jpas said...

Nice read Rickey! Check out more reviews on my blogspot:
www.jordanseworld.blogspot.com