- Yeah, there's a vague Iron Maiden reference in this post's title, but Raph Koster, one would imagine, isn't a Bruce Dickinson fan - he is, however, slightly disturbed by Viva Pinata, which is a touch more interesting than being obsessed by Lord Iffy Boatrace or whatever.

Anyhow, Koster comments: "The interesting thing about Viva Pinata to me is that it isn’t what you think it is. It looks like yet another take on the whole pet thing — virtual critters, only this time you have a garden to keep them in. But it’s nothing nearly so innocuous. No, you see, Viva Pinata is actually a game about animal husbandry in the “raise ‘em and kill ‘em for food” sense, and all of the cute little hats you can buy for them and amusing nicknames you can give them are just ways to tug at your heartstrings in the moment before you casually put them to death."

You know, when I raved about the game a few weeks back, I didn't notice the slightly macabre elements of the title - but Koster does, referencing chef Gordon Ramsay's decision "to raise turkeys in his backyard, with his kids tending them, specifically so they could be slaughtered for Christmas dinner and served up to those self-same kids, as well as all the patrons in the TV show’s restaurant", and commenting: "My daughter cried when her first beloved pinata pet was eaten by a predator — sorry, made sick and sour by Dastardos — but she got over it. Fast."

His conclusion? "So here are my kids replicating [Ramsay's animal-slaughtering] with virtual candy-and-papier-mache . And to some degree, it makes me nervous about getting them a dog. After all, what’s the big deal? We can always order another one." He's not really that worried, but ends: "Sometimes I wish it carried a bit more of the stink of the slaughterhouse, and a little less jaunty music and colorful pastel artwork." You know what? Ech!