Those About to Die: Pinatas

Murder is an occurrence that gamers are more than accustomed to because it is a constant. No matter what type of game you pick up, there is nearly always the guarantee that you are going to shoot something in the head or stomp a creature to death not ten seconds into its main gameplay. If you want a game that gives you a break from the act of killing, you’ll be hard pressed to find it.

Viva Pinata is, outwardly, such a break. Progression in the game depends on your ability to create and maintain, rather than your ability to destroy. You must provide a suitable place to live for all the paper creatures that inhabit the world, and then help each species to fall in love and start their own families. You can even just sit back and watch the animals interact with each other if you so choose. There’s almost nothing intrinsically violent about the game.

The shovel, the first tool that you are given to aid you in your pinata gardening quest, was meant to be used for good. When you first arrive to see your plot of land in a state of disarray, it is the object that helps you to break up the hard ground so that grass and other plants may grow. All of the love and care you give the pinatas starts with the shovel.

But when put into the wrong hands, the shovel can be used  to do a lot of harm as well. I guess that my own hands are the wrong ones, because I absolutely love smashing up pinatas.

Oh no! Not my Cluckle! *whack*

As the “bad guys” of the world of Viva Pinata, it is only second nature to want to kill sour pinatas. They will stop at nothing to poison your residents and generally make nuisances of themselves. This is why they rightfully deserve what they get from me.

The shovel is not the only way to get rid of these pests. You can also convert them into good versions of themselves, using an item specific to each species. The shovel is a cruel way to drive them out and only gets the job half done, while conversion ensures that particular type of sour pest never again enters your garden to wreak havoc again. Even so, I prefer the more barbaric way of doing things.

For a while, I was unaware that there was even an alternative option to beating the candy out of sours. I didn’t know how else to keep them from poisoning my beloved residents. I eventually found out about conversion, and soon after, changed a Sour Shellybean into a good guy. My celebration did not last too long, as I realized the conversion meant one less variety of bad pinata to smack around. As of today, that Shellybean has remained the only sour I’ve bothered to convert, just because I like destroying the evil little bastards the old fashioned way.

This Cocoadile is just begging for Shovel Time.

But it’s not just evil sour pinatas that feel the business end of my shovel. I’ve taken a liking to killing the “good” pinatas as well.

For a long time, I was very careful about having to resort to violence in regards to keeping the peace among the normal pinatas. I am extremely kind towards animals in real life, and my Viva Pinata persona once reflected this attitude. Every paper animal that became a permanent resident of my little plot of land would be treated with the utmost kindness and respect.

Everything would change once I used some of my chocolate coin savings to buy a Cluckle from the store. It was the most adorable thing in the world, and it immediately became my new favorite pinata resident. But when I went back to the game the next day, I noticed that I had a new Pretztail resident, and that the Cluckle was nowhere to be found. It didn’t take me long to realize that my Cluckle was now inside the paper fox’s stomach. I was furious, but not quite enough to go on a rampage right away and kill the Pretztail responsible. The deed had already been done, and another broken pinata would not fix things. Instead, the incident opened my mind to the idea of using my shovel as a means of protection for all those who were still living. From then on, I would not think twice about breaking open those that wish to cause any harm to my residents.

After a lot of time spent picking, choosing, and pinata smashing, I eventually found the perfect balance of creatures in my garden. It was hard to find a mixture of critters that had no desire to eat or fight with any of the others, but my shovel and I overcame all obstacles to create a peaceful utopia. However, there will always be a few outsiders who like to come in and ruin things, making it impossible for me to ever stop killing pinatas entirely. But I think I kinda like it that way.

That big hump is chock full of candy and goodness. I would know. I break them open regularly.

One of the biggest non-sour pests is the Fudgehog. Looks are very deceiving with these little guys, as they have an attitude problem exactly opposite of their level of cuteness. Wild Fudgehogs will traipse into my garden and immediately start fighting with the first pinata it sees. In fact, getting rid of the Fudgehog residents I once had was the best thing I ever did for my garden, as they were always nothing but trouble. The wild ones still haunt me, and all I can do to drive them back is to break them open, one by one.

There are many other normal pinatas that pretty much have a kill-on-sight status with me. The list includes Tafflies and Lickatoads, both of which seem to also pick fights endlessly with many of the species I like to keep around (particularly my Newtgats). Any animal that is a threat to my lovely family of Quackberries immediately see the business end of my shovel as well.

While the thwacking sound of the shovel against a paper body once made me cringe, I no longer feel any remorse for my acts of pinata cruelty. I actually kind of like it. Smashing pinatas has become as much a part of the zen factor of Viva Pinata as the peaceful act of gardening that the game is based upon.

Thanks to my shovel, my garden is a safe place to live.. for those who still do.

Sometimes, I feel as if I am just trying to find excuses to break pinatas to make myself feel better about what I do so that it doesn’t seem so much like senseless killing. Viva Pinata is not supposed to be a game filled with death. Or is it?

This world was purposely filled to the brim with adorable, fragile animals that do not bleed when struck, but instead drop colorful bits of candy. There are no screams as the carnage unfolds, but the sound of children shouting, “Hooray!” I am unconsciously making the connection between breaking a pinata in the real world and breaking one in the virtual world every time I kill. Even though I am unable to reap the candy reward as I would with a real life pinata, the thrill of the break itself is still intact. This type of death is what pinatas are made for, ultimately making my struggle with what exactly can be considered right and wrong in the pinata world negligible.

What can I say? I just like to smash pinatas.

Ashley Davis