Horstachios, Fudgehogs and Pretztails, Oh My!LOS ANGELES — Dec. 4, 2006 — Over the weekend, Mario Lopez was spotted hanging out with some characters who really know how to party. And everybody knows piñatas love a good bash! At the festive event of the season, Lopez joined the characters from the “Viva Piñata” animated series from 4Kids TV — Hudson Horstachio, Fergy Fudgehog and Paulie Pretztail — along with thousands of kids and their families at the world’s biggest piñata party for the launch of “Viva Piñata™,” the new video game for play exclusively on the Xbox 360™ game and entertainment system. In celebration of the worldwide rollout of “Viva Piñata,” crowds took a break from holiday shopping to convene on the famous Santa Monica Pier to ring in this colorful title that is breaking new ground in family entertainment. On Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Hudson, Fergy and Paulie invited the world to the Pier, which was transformed into a festive Piñata Island for the occasion. Kids and families got their groove on as Lopez led the crowd in the official “Viva Piñata” dance and posed for photos. At the free event, kids were invited to participate in piñata “pulls” for an opportunity to win an Xbox 360 console, copies of the “Viva Piñata” game and other exciting prizes; come face-to-hoof with a Horstachio piñata 35 feet tall; pose for their close-ups with the animated series’ celebrity hosts; try their hand at the “Viva Piñata” video game; and take a free ride on the historic Santa Monica carousel. Parents were encouraged to learn more about online safety for their children in the Xbox 360 Family Settings area. The excitement didn’t stop there. Although no sticks were taken to the piñatas, it truly was the “thwack” heard around the world as countries far and wide celebrated the worldwide launch of the game in their own unique style. In true Viva Piñata spirit, the Xbox 360 team in Mexico City set about establishing a new world record for the biggest piñata. Forty-five people worked on the construction process, and over 800 people (kids and their families) had a hand in finishing the giant Horstachio piñata, which stands 14.6 meters tall and 16 meters long (approximately 48 feet by 52 feet), weighs 2 metric tons (4,400 pounds), and took three full weeks to create. “How do you launch a game about piñatas? You throw the world’s biggest piñata party!” said Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of global marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “‘Viva Piñata’ on Xbox 360 is slated to be available in 37 countries and 17 languages next year, inviting kids, parents and all game players to create their own unique Piñata Island. They can also trade piñatas and interact with one another in a worldwide online community through Xbox Live, for a truly global experience.” People first experienced the world of “Viva Piñata” in September, with the debut of the computer-generated animation series produced by 4Kids Entertainment and Bardel Entertainment on 4Kids TV on FOX. The zany, anything-can-happen comedy series about the world of piñatas airs Saturday mornings on 4Kids TV in the U.S. and on YTV in Canada, and will soon be on the air around the world. After appearing on U.S. store shelves in November, “Viva Piñata” is already a hit, making waves with consumers and press alike. Fans are enamored with the vibrant world where they can create and customize their own environment to attract, tame and nurture more than 60 species of wild piñata and explore hundreds of personalization options, including naming their piñatas, choosing accessories for them to wear, and deciding where to plant grass and flowers. Players can also connect with friends, family and other players around the world through the Xbox Live® online entertainment network, where they can trade items from their piñata paradise — everything from the smallest plant to the largest piñata. Xbox Live will offer accessories for download into the game to personalize piñata collections. “It’s great to see a video game that is safe and fun for kids but that adults will love just as much,” Lopez said. “I had to battle my way through throngs of kids just itching to get their hands on the game, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. Starting with some basic tools that allow you to create a thriving piñata paradise that is teeming with wild and wonderful little piñata animals and is uniquely your own is incredibly entertaining and really quite satisfying.” An Xbox representative for Hudson reported, “When Hudson found out that Mario Lopez would be joining the world’s biggest piñata party, he almost lost his candy. He’s a huge fan, and quite an avid dancer himself. The chance to cut up a rug with — and teach a few moves to — Mario was the opportunity of a lifetime for him. What a way to celebrate this launch.” “Viva Piñata” from Rare and Microsoft Game Studios is rated “E” for Everyone and is available exclusively on Xbox 360 for an estimated retail price of $49.99. The two-disc “Viva Piñata” Special Edition Xbox 360 game, available for a limited time, will include a second disc with playable demos of LucasArts’ “LEGO® Star Wars® II: The Original Trilogy,” the arcade classic “Frogger” as well as family favorites “Cloning Clyde,” “Time Pilot” and “Marble Blast.” In addition, a full-length episode from the zany, anything-can-happen animated TV series “Viva Piñata” is also included. The Family Settings feature on Xbox 360 takes the family entertainment experience to a new level. When users are playing offline, Family Settings can be set to grant or restrict access to games based on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating. Family Settings can be used to restrict access to online content and contact based on the parent or guardian’s choice. With “Viva Piñata” rated “E” for Everyone, the whole family can enjoy the game.