Review by Anthropofobe

"Neopets-Don’t dismiss this as a kiddy game"

Neopets is an online game where you have a pet to feed, take care of, play with, kind of like your own pet. But don’t let that change everything-there’s a lot more to do then just that. Besides making money (neopoints), you are able to battle your pets, trade items, play games, and more.

Graphics (7/10)
OK, so the graphics aren’t something that’ll have you stare at your screen in awe, and they don’t rival any of the next generation systems, but they don’t have to. For the most part, they are simple, cartoon-ish pictures, which is fine for the game (besides, awe-inspiring graphics would mean longer loading times). Although they may give the game a kiddy look, don’t judge a book by its cover.

Sound
Sound can’t really be judged for this game; it’s a web site, with separate pages, not like a program. I’m not going to give a rating for sound because (a) it’d be difficult, longer loading times and (b) annoying, and personally, I think neopets is better off without any audio effects. Many people listen to music while on the Internet, and other audio effects would just be an annoyance.

Gameplay (6/10)
After creating an account, you are able to create a pet-one you get to feed, play with, and battle. However, there is no real incentive to take care of your neopet; they can’t die, if they’re bored, occasionally they’ll tell you so, and their hunger doesn’t harbor you from any activity, with the exception of battling.

In addition to taking care of your pet, there’s the matter of neopoints and items. Most items come from the official shops, and if you want to get anything that’s rare affordably, that’s where you go. Probably the worst thing about neopets is it favors those with the faster computers and Internet connections. Meaning if you’re on a 56K, it’ll be pretty difficult to earn neopoints. As for the games, they are in HTML and Flash, and reward you with neopoints for getting good scores. They become boring, and the rewards aren’t wonderful. There are various “worlds” to explore, each with its own theme (medieval, desert, snow…), shops, and items.

Once you have items, you can open up your own shop to sell them to the public. There’s a “shop wizard”, which is basically a search engine for finding the items you’re looking for. It displays links to the shops, along with how much the item is priced for at that particular shop, so you’re able to search for the best deal, in addition to pricing your own items.

One of my favorite aspects of the game is battle. You can train your pets to have better stats (for a price, of course) and buy weapons for them to use-attacking, defending, and healing items all can be equipped for battle. Obviously, the better the item, the larger the price tag.

Easily among the worst downsides to the interaction with other players is the cheaters, who try to cheat you out of neopoints and items. Along with trying to steal your valuables, and sometimes even your account, they use programs to try to cheat the games and programs that automatically buy rare items from the shops, giving all other users a major disadvantage.

Oftentimes, I do question whether some of the users are illiterate; if you put up an item for trade worth, for example, 700,000 neopoints, immediately you get people requesting you to trade with them for a few paltry items not even worth 5,000.

Then there’s the freezings. Your account will be frozen if you break the Neopets ToS. However, many accounts are frozen without reason, and many of the scammers’ and cheaters’ main accounts go unscathed. If your account is frozen, there’s little chance of thawing it. The security at Neopets is also next to nil; they are frequently hacked with people losing accounts, pet statistics altered, but they’ll deny it.

For example, not too long ago, Neopets was hacked, and many of the strongest pets had their stats changed to 10. The next day, after the staff fixed the stats, their explanation was that there was a bug in the lab ray (after buying 9 map pieces, you can gain access to the lab ray, which can increase, decrease, change color, gender, and species of your pet), even though some of the pets hadn’t used the lab ray for months.

Replayability (6/10)
Since neopets is an online game, it always is changing-adding new worlds, items, and users. It’s impossible to beat neopets, since you can’t really complete it. However, it does get very tedious because there isn’t really a point to the game. For example, trying to train the strongest pet, well, many people have months, even years, of a head start. Trying to get trophies in the flash games? Forget it. While some people make it obvious that they’re cheating, others are smart enough to have their scores be somewhat reasonable, so they aren’t frozen, even if the scores are unobtainable. What else is there to do? Some people make galleries, collections of items that all have a certain theme, but not everyone wants to make a gallery. Once you reach a certain spot in the game, you stumble upon the fact that there’s no point, no incentive.

Overall
Graphics-7
Gameplay-6
Replay-6
Overall-6


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/01/03, Updated 04/14/03


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