VIVA PINATA 3 PROSPECTS GROW POOR AS WEBSITE IS ENDED
FADING HOPE AS VIVAPINATA.COM IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED, GRIM IMPLICATIONS FOR A SEQUEL
Firstly, there is something you should know. I am hardcore Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise player. My limeoceros is the world’s most valuable. My candary, Cyrano, also topped the world ranks; my first #1 ranked pinata. And don’t dream of winning a race against my prize custacean, it is folly.
The rare air I’ve shared with world-class gardeners has perfumed many countless hours, days and months of pure papier-mâché magic online. The gardens we’ve constructed rival many of the wonders of Minecraft‘s virtuoso builders. Think Skylanders caters to collectors? Our collections were (and still are) wonders unto themselves, hundreds of pinatas of every possible color and mutation, painstakingly bred, fully taught and toiled over; values into the stratosphere, to the very maximum limit. You couldn’t buy them… you had to build them from romance to the eggs and up… or be very lucky in your friends and garden visitors.
But from the elite players to the greenest newcomer, the game, and it’s predecessor, Viva Pinata, offer amazing gameplay, humor, challenges and beauty. And perhaps more so than any other game I’ve ever played (with the possible exception of Minecraft), I can say that Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is made for customization, it’s everything you make of it, and to the inspired, it can be wondrous.
The first game was released in 2006 and was one of the iconic games of the new Xbox 360, launched in 2005. But it was the 2008 sequel Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise and the advent of multi-player that really brought Viva Pinata into greatness. The redesigned interaction, romance-linked mutations, racing and talent contests, pinata vision cards, new pinatas and Pinata Island characters, and much more were all added to transcend the quaint gardening game into a game that could be much more. Despite what some may think, this is not just a “kids’ game” …au contraire.
It became a game where players of all ages and skills could create charming gardens and earn wonderful collections. While at the same time, it also allowed for the rise of a master class of gardeners, playing a much higher level of the game; an advanced test of skills, devotion and artistry. I played with every type of gardener, from the newest and most hapless, to the very best among the best; and I loved it all. My favorite challenge is starting over again in a brand new game and working all the way up to top rank again, while continuing to collect amazing pinatas and build beautiful gardens, often with themes to set them apart. And my heart would jump if there was ever a package in my post office from the one and only BIGsheep.
Whether I was teaching and helping someone along, or trading, breeding and building with friends and strangers alike, …or even the many times I was merely touring one of the masterpiece gardens and just looking on in awe, I’ve taken the greatest pleasure in all levels of the experience.
The game is still out there, of course, the servers remain open and I’ll still be playing. But the Viva Pinata enthusiasts have held out hope for a long time now, that the next Viva Pinata game might be announced. Every E3 since 2009, we’ve held our breath, crossed our fingers, and watched with little embers of hope glowing inside. And each year, no news has come.
And now, the only Viva Pinata news in a long, long time has finally come, but it’s not the news for which we’ve waited. So I can honestly say, it is with a heavy heart that I report that VivaPinata.com has shut its doors for good; confirmed by the Giant Goobaa himself:
— BIGsheep (@BIGsheep) December 10, 2012
Alas, the implications of the closure cast a poor shadow over what hopes remain for Rare to produce a sequel. Viva Pinata 3 does not appear to be in their thoughts at this time at all. Et tu, Rare?
The announcement posted on pinataisland.info put the closure and the future of the Viva Pinata franchise in perspective, with nostalgia and regret:
It appears that the once-popular VivaPinata.com has closed for good.
The Classic Years
If you remember the original site (back when Classic came out), it hosted Viva Piñata avatars, ringtones, wallpaper, a variety of mini-games, interviews and tips from the developers, and the Viva Piñata Fan Site Kit.
It also served as the official Viva Piñata forum (although posts there were all moderated, so they didn’t show up right away).
Two Years in Paradise
Later on, once Trouble in Paradise was released, the site became the home for user-submitted garden photos, and uploaded Piñata Vision cards.
The game’s camera tool was an awesome feature, because it allowed anyone to capture, upload, and share digital photos of our gardens. That was a big deal, since many of us didn’t have capture devices to grab stills from our consoles.
(Our wiki was one of the main benefactors of VivaPinata.com; we were able to replace many item and piñata images with high-quality scannable Vision cards that contributors had created.)
VivaPinata.com also offered leader boards in addition to copious player statistics. (Take a peek at a copy of BIGsheep’s stats from 2008 to see everything that the game kept track of!)
Anyone who ever received an Elite Choclodocus Vision card, or a famous piñata (for earning all 841 awards) has benefited from VivaPinata.com, as BIGsheep would take the time to regularly check the leader boards and send out rewards.
The Troubled Years
On September 1, 2010, Microsoft stopped moderating VivaPinata.com. While the game still allowed us to upload photos or create Piñata Vision cards, no new photos or Vision cards have appeared in the public gallery since then.
This wasn’t a total loss, as screenshots still made it into our “My Page” (private) gallery, so gamers could at least download recent photos and host them elsewhere.
And Now It’s Gone
Sadly, the site has closed its doors for good, and all the many Vision cards we had created and photos we uploaded are now lost to us.
I think if any fans still held out hope for a sequel, that VivaPinata.com being shut down (after almost seven years of service) means that the franchise has truly come to an end.
The consolation is that we’re more fortunate than many EA games whose servers were shutdown. At least Trouble in Paradise players can still host gardens online, and help out others in multiplayer.
Thanks to everyone who kept VivaPinata.com running all those years. It was a wonderful home to some amazing garden photos and all sorts of uploaded piñatas and items.
Should anything change… should Rare (or Microsoft Studios) make a statement to either confirm the fears or suspend the notion that VP3 has been altogether abandoned, an update will certainly follow.
In the meantime, if you are among those who have wished for a sequel, why not let Rare know?
Bear in mind, it’s uncertain what the future will bring. Rare may yet revisit our papery pals. I’ve mused at the possibilities that they could make a sequel that would not only serve the builder fanatics among us, building on lessons learned from Minecraft, but they could tap into the avid collectors, too, taking many profitable cues from the Skylanders franchise. I maintain there is a place for VP3.
Despite this news, I still have hope, small hope, but it is hope nonetheless.
One day, the pinatas of Pinata Island… also Banjo and Kameo …might rise again.
Sources: pinataisland.info, BIGsheep (via Twitter)
[Garden pond image from the garden of Mariethebee, posted screen shot.]
VIVA PINATA 3 PROSPECTS GROW POOR AS WEBSITE IS ENDED,