For those who have always dreamed of cultivating a garden full of living pinatas without being tethered to a home console, the Viva Pinata franchise has finally made its portable debut. Pocket Paradise is a surprisingly faithful conversion that condenses the animals, plants, and micromanagement options that made the Xbox 360 original so enthralling into a DS game. The slower pace and in-depth tutorials make this a good entry point for people overwhelmed by the often chaotic flow of the console games, but Viva veterans may find themselves struggling to stay awake as they plow through hours of gardening before the more interesting animals start to arrive. Pocket Paradise can satiate your desire to romance a family of whirlms while you're on the road, but it lacks the unrelenting grip that makes the console versions impossible to put down.
It's a good thing fizzlybears don't like eating doenuts.
The basic gameplay in Pocket Paradise is indistinguishable from the gameplay of its console brothers. You attract pinatas into your garden based on your level and the plants and animals that currently populate your land. It's a simple concept but it makes for a very engaging game. You never know exactly what will tempt a lurking pinata, so you'll constantly be overhauling your lands trying to entice a stubborn outsider. The controls make excellent use of the touch screen, allowing you to easily sweep around the garden planting bushes with precision and directing pinatas back to their homes. Going to the store or whipping out one of your trusty tools is only a couple of taps away, so molding the garden to your liking is even easier than in the console versions. There is still some clumsiness when objects are too close to each other, but the controls are predominantly superior in this portable iteration.
The initial batches of pinatas are extremely easy to please. They desire only a nice patch of soil or a lone flower before they'll move in and start to romance, a silly dance that lets you populate your garden with more of the same species. The later pinatas are much pickier, though, and you'll need to completely overhaul your terrain, provide a bushel of rotten fruit, or even tempt them with a flock of tasty pinatas. Figuring out how to lure these fickle friends into your merry garden can be tricky, but getting them to procreate is much easier than it was on the Xbox 360. Though pinatas still have a seemingly arbitrary set of requirements that must be met (for instance, fizzlybears need to eat a bottle of medicine before they'll romance, for some terrifying reason), you can circumvent these entirely and just feed them romance candy. Previously, romance candy would work only if you had already convinced two pinatas to romance. Being able to force-feed them these aphrodisiac treats takes away a lot of the satisfaction of the breeding process. It's best to ignore this option and not cheat your way past the romance requirements.