If it accomplishes nothing else, Viva Pinata: Party Animals shows that someone, somewhere in the hierarchy at Microsoft understands the importance of attempting to expand their user base.
The first follow-up in what I can only assume will be a long series of titles, Party Animals takes the various animal types that were introduced in Viva Pinata (and given names in the cartoon) and puts them in a Mario Party-style context. Four players can control these adorable pinatas in a variety of events, from races to eating contests to, in a surreal twist that threatens to cause the world to implode in a singularity of self-referentiality, a pinata-breaking competition.
That pinata-breaking competition is what makes this demo stand out so spectacularly, representing a new direction for the franchise. The pinatas that get swatted aren't anthropomorphized animals that scream in pain before exploding in a burst of candies, but rather simple circular things that don't seem to have any semblance of conscience. That one move is a perfect encapsulation of the change in tone this game represents. If the demo is to believed the winking bawdiness and casual brutality have been removed from the Viva Pinata franchise, leaving something far more innocent, youth-appropriate, and perhaps most importantly, in line with the theme of the cartoon.
The best thing about the demo, though, is the fact that there's so much of it to play. After trying seven minigames in sequence as the game kept track of the overall score, I was left with the feeling that I'd actually enjoyed a full game of Party Animals, something that few demos ever manage to accomplish. Is the product incredibly derivitive or Mario Party? And how. But as rip-offs go, it's technically accomplished and a breeze to play. If the final version is anywhere near this good, there might finally be something that entire families can play on the Xbox 360. Well, something that wasn't downloaded from Xbox Live, anyhow.
Nothing relevant to this conversation, that's for sure! Because we're here to talk about (sorry, write and read about, respectively) GC_Danny, who's updating this profile for the first time in thirteen years!
So let's take a gander back at that time and see what's happened! In addition to writing hundreds of video game reviews, Dan produced a book that can be legally purchased by almost anyone! He also wrote two short films, two episodes of television, and two movies! Although, sadly, and through much fault of his own, the movies have yet to be released.
In addition to general game reviewing, he's also dabbled in more long-form work, writing some of the longest and most comprehensive game reviews of all time. Then there's his non-GameCritics blogging, where he's famous as the world's foremost expert on the TV show Criminal Minds, as well as the co-host of a weekly podcast - he's even working on a new videogame/critical experiment, which you can find out more about here!
If all that wasn't enough, just a few months ago he rebranded himself as 'The Hidden Object Guru', hoping to stake another claim of ultimate expertise, this time over a genre of casual games! Will he be successful? Only time will tell, but you're free to join the thrilling ride at his YouTube channel!