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Exclusive: Rare Talks  Viva Pinata DS

Exclusive: Rare Talks Viva Pinata DS

July 31, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield, Staff

July 31, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield, Staff
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More: Console/PC

Following Rare's confirmation at the San Diego Comicon that its Viva Pinata franchise is coming to the Nintendo DS, Gamasutra quizzed the company's Justin Cook and James Thomas on how it plays, why it's unique, and whether it'll outsell the Xbox 360 version.

The initial confirmation of the title, which is being developed internally, was made at a Comicon panel, but Rare has subsequently updated its official website, noting: "This is a full-size Viva Piata game in your pocket, featuring not only the entire range of paper beasts from the Xbox 360 title but also a few new ones thrown in to spice things up for those familiar with the established cast."

Since being purchased by Microsoft in 2002, the originally heavily Nintendo-affiliated Rare has continued to develop games for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, with an equal number of games, including Sabre Wulf and Diddy Kong Racing DS, released for Nintendo formats as for the Xbox and Xbox 360.

In addition to this announcement, further expansion of the franchise was recently confirmed in a spin-off game named Viva Piata: Party Animals, announced for the Xbox 360 at E3 2007, but will be developed by Krome Studios, not Rare.

During Comicon, Gamasutra had a chance to chat to Justin Cook, a designer on the main Viva Pinata team, alongside engineer James Thomas, about the title, which is being developed in house by Rare's dedicated handheld division. Cook commented of the work by his handheld division co-workers on Viva Pinata DS: "It's all stylus-controlled, it works really, really well. They've modified the menu control so that it uses the stylus really neatly. And it actually works - dig in the garden and plant a seed."

Thomas added: "You get a lot more accuracy. Recently I've been playing Civilization and Sim City, and I think Viva Pinata fits into the same mold, like god-type games, which work well with the flexibility and sensitivity that the stylus and touch screen offer."

Cook continued: "They've done a good job of getting most if the important parts out of this big game, and getting it onto the DS, and I think it stands up really well."

When Gamasutra mused that it would be interesting to see if the DS version outsells the (somewhat market mismatched) Xbox 360 version, Thomas, who developed the original, quipped: "Yeah, I think we've all come to terms with that. We'll be sobbing ourselves to sleep saying 'At least we set up a solid franchise!'"

Cook added: "But we always wanted them to do the best job they could, and they have. When I played it, I secretly wanted to be on that team for a while, but they obviously didn't need us at all."

Finally, Thomas noted: "They only had about five or six months with it as well. They've used a lot of our assets, and obviously a lot of the main design was in there, but thumbs up to them, they're really turned it around quickly."

Additional details listed for Viva Pinata DS on the official Rare page for the game note that: "The DS WiFi service also lets you send prime Piata specimens to your friends, making the act of parading your Doenut around in a humiliating pirate outfit easier than ever."

The full Gamasutra interview with Cook and Thomas about things Viva Pinata, the state of Rare, and life at the developer post-Stampers will be posted in the near future.

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