TV Series Review: Viva Piñata (2006 – 2009)

A short-lived, but beloved video game franchise, Viva Piñata was created and produced by Xbox Game Studios and Rare, released on the Xbox 360 in 2006, with two sequels following in 2007, and 2008. A life simulation and gardening game, players were tasked with caring for a garden, encouraging piñatas to take up residence within, and protecting them from the evil Professor Pester and his Ruffin minions, who desire the candy inside of the creatures.

The first Viva Piñata was a great game, and it’s 2008 sequel; Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise improved on almost every aspect of the original. We’re big fans here and would love to, one day, see the concept return in grander style. Yet, it’s easy to forget that there was a real attempt to make the franchise into something much bigger than just a game.

Which resulted in the creation of a TV show, a computer-animated show about the day-to-day antics of the piñatas of Piñata Island. Created by 4Kids TV, Viva Piñata lasted for two seasons and has 52 episodes overall. Each is split into two different, and unrelated segments, lasting around 11 minutes each, with an overall episode runtime of 22 minutes.

The first episode aired on August 26th, 2006, with the final episode airing on May 18th, 2009. It had a bloody good run, which is really questionable when you get into the thick of it and find nothing more than constant throwaway content, with lacklustre humour, and weird ‘fourth-wall’ breaking moments.

Yet, as mind-numbing as the show often is, it does deserve a lot of credit.

Credit for the fantastic animation, the show proving to be one hell of a lively and vibrant experience. Credit for the overall strong cast of voice actors, where each piñata has their own distinct style. Credit for tying into the game’s details across a large number of areas, notably how it even gives players tips on how to deal with certain piñatas in the game.

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This, and so much more, is what makes Viva Piñata quite special, in realm of computer animated shows.

Yet, it’s hard to focus on the good when so much of it feels like a waste of time. There are 52 episodes, and barely any kind of continuity, made even worse when you take into account that each segment is unrelated. That makes 104 segments where nothing matters, nothing is followed up on, and there’s no growth in the writing. For example, Season 2 started airing one week after season 1 ended and if you didn’t know, you might struggle to notice any difference.

Across far too many segments, the same story beats are explored. Fergy Fudgehog doesn’t want to go to a party, Hudson Horstachio has a massive ego, Franklin Fizzlybear is super-chill, Ella Elephanilla can’t remember things, and nobody can understand what Les Galagoogoo is saying. Every so often Professor Pester and his Ruffins will turn up with an elaborate plan to capture the piñatas, fail, and regret nothing. He’ll be back to try again.

It quickly becomes boring, even if the argument that it is aimed at a younger audience, is valid. Here’s the thing though, that’s no excuse for it having the depth of a rain puddle. Children are smart and can handle more meaningful themes, expansive stories, and interesting characters. Viva Piñata has none of this, but also litters its segments with jokes aimed at an older audience and oddball fourth-wall breaking moments.

Who is this for? Fans of the games? It makes the most sense, but compared to what the they offer, the show leaves next to impact. Aside from that damn theme song.


  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!

Viva Piñata (2006 - 2009)
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