Rare's Viva Piñata first charmed gamers back in 2006, when it appeared on the Xbox 360. Instantly, the title's original premise of nurturing beautifully animated piñatas in a garden of your own making helped it stand out in the crowd. On a system more renowned for third-person adventure games and futuristic shooters, Viva Piñata was a delightful revelation.
Soon, the candy-filled creatures will be making their debut on the DS in Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise. Based on the original Viva Piñata title, what we've seen so far suggests that the team have achieved something we'd have never expected: they've managed to squeeze an Xbox 360 title on to Nintendo's handheld, while preserving every feature and trinket that was available in the original.
With its fertilizer and shovel prepared for Pocket Paradise's release later this year, DS Fanboy sat down with Pocket Paradise Producer Paul Machacek and Software Development Engineer Joe Humfrey to chat about why they brought Viva Piñata to the DS, the jump from analog stick to stylus control, and the emotions involved in seeing your very first Mousemallow perish. Go past the break for our full interview!
The Xbox 360's library consists of predominantly adult-oriented titles, and this is often cited as a reason why the first Viva Piñata game didn't sell well. Do you think the series will enjoy more success on the DS? It seems to have a more suitable audience ...
Joe Humfrey: Actually, the latest sales figures of the original Viva Piñata show that the game has continued to sell steadily since release. It has been more of a commercial success than everyone seems to think. From personal experience, I've noticed the game is still being placed prominently on shelves in most stores I go into.
It also appears to be a popular choice in bundles, since it's an excellent choice for all-round family entertainment. It has a visual style that appeals to all ages, and has depth that all gamers can enjoy. But yes, of course we all hope that the DS version sells bucketloads! We're all really proud of how well we managed translate the gameplay of Viva Piñata onto the DS's unique hardware.
Paul Machacek: We've never put out any official sales figures and so a lot of people have inaccurately speculated on how well Viva Piñata has already done. The game has done well and we're very proud of the franchise as a whole. Please go and buy some more though, haha.
Ah, we stand corrected! So what appealed to you about bringing the franchise to the DS?
JH: Back when we were working on Diddy Kong Racing DS, we were able to get sneak previews of the Xbox 360 game while the original team were working on it, and immediately started having ideas about how we could make it work on the DS, should we get the opportunity. We could tell that a stylus-driven interface, if designed well, could fit the game like a glove. We knew we would be able to make a portable version of the game that would complement the Xbox 360 version perfectly.
PM: We also just loved the game and really wanted to work on one. We want to expand the franchise and hope that we may attract others that have not had the opportunity to see the first game.