So you’ve bested The Witness and you only play shooters on Legendary and think you’re really good at video games. But have you domesticated an Elephanilla? Pfft, well, that’s child’s play. How about a Roario? Do you have all the Dragonache variants? Are you a master romancer? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Punk.
Odds are pretty good that you missed out on Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise when it first appeared on Xbox 360. It’s a bizarre confection that hides its complexity beneath an adorable, candy-filled exterior, and you may have written it off as a kid game. Which it can be; the goal of Trouble in Paradise is whatever you want it to be – your garden is yours to cultivate as you see fit, attracting and keeping whatever pinata animals you like best. But of course the real object of the game is to figure out how to obtain the higher-level, more valuable pinata. The more valuable the pinata, the more arduous a task it is to get them to show up in your garden, and as for getting them to take up residence, hoo boy. These suckers are very demanding. To stock your garden with the best of the best, you’ll need patience, some puzzle-solving skills, and a slightly obsessive need to catch all the things.
The original Viva Pinata is also available via backwards compatibility, but Trouble in Paradise is the better bet, as it refines some of the clunkier systems of its predecessor and adds new sand and snow environments. (Ask yourself, do you want the game that has the candy-filled penguins, or don’t you? Exactly.) The animals are utterly charming, and their cheery colors are a wonderful respite from the grim and realistic game worlds we so frequently inhabit. Wooing them to your garden, teaching them tricks, collecting their color variants, breeding enough generations to get a “special” offspring, and preventing them from eating each other (or encouraging it, depending on your needs) will absorb your attention for shockingly long periods of time. Trouble in Paradise is the kind of game you intend to play for a few minutes only to realize the sun’s suddenly gone down.
Each week, we’ll be highlighting the best last-gen classics and retro titles you can play right now on your Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U. For a full list of backwards compatible titles, be sure to check out our coverage for Xbox 360 games on Xbox One and Every PS2 game on PS4.