Microsoft seeks broad appeal with 'Viva Pinata'

Video game out in time for the holidays will feature animals inspired by Latin American papier-mache figures. Images: 'Viva Pinata'

In its quest to expand the audience for its new Xbox 360 video game console beyond young, male "hard-core" gamers, Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled its new "Viva Pinata" product collection, which will hit the ground this year with a cartoon TV show, a video game and toys.

"This is the first property that we've ever created that has this comprehensive of an approach from the start," said Shane Kim, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios.

The characters in "Viva Pinata" are animals inspired by Latin American papier-mache figures, called pinatas, which are stuffed with candy and baubles and then broken by blindfolded, bat-wielding children.

The Saturday-morning animated "Viva Pinata" television series is set for a fall U.S. premier on Fox's 4Kids TV, the producer of television shows such as "Pokemon," "Yu-Gi-Oh!" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Microsoft's Rare is responsible for the concept and the video game, which will be available exclusively on its next-generation Xbox 360 in time for the year-end holidays. Rare's other video games include "Perfect Dark Zero," a mature-rated shooting game for the Xbox 360.

Under its deal with Microsoft, 4Kids has an exclusive agreement covering worldwide broadcast, home video, music and merchandise licensing rights for the "Viva Pinata" property.

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