Carving Meaty Marvels in Hot Dog Hero
For many a year in the Neopian domain, a colourful-spirited Mynci named Hubert has carved his dream as the sole producer and seller of none other than the finest hot dog delicacies. Since his inauguration, not even the Mynci's high intellectual and observational capacities could either find or conjure someone better for the job. Consequently, Hubert has been supported so much so through his hard work and dedication that the evidence is overwhelming – a hot dog market outstripping even the wiliest and cunning of Neopian users’ businesses.
However, profits have been dwindling over recent years, as imagination and innovation from alternative niches amidst Neopia have been curbing interest in those now bogstandard hot dogs. Hubert's status and business was in a dangerously precarious position, the high on eight year tradition soon to be forgotten. That is until experience prevailed over pride, the vision of constructing a game having been conceived as an emergency plan to restore and recreate the prime years.
The Mynci population rejoiced; the remainder of the 200+ million pets stared in awe. For the first time in a long while, a game centered around a Neopian nutritional specimen was borne into custom. It is now up to you to play it, and it my job to display the correct knowhow to provide with the motivation to do so.
OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME
Your aim when playing is seemingly simple but intrinsically complex. Hubert requires a variety of hot dogs (10 to be precise) to be prepared in specific ways. These hot dogs must brave harsh environments, littered with ravenous enemies and scarce with aid, to obtain an order/recipe slip and key (to merely escape the hostile place). To do this, hot dog condiments in the form of mustard, mayo, and ketchup have been provided to create secure pathways over which the hot dogs can scurry. Should enemies be a hindrance, pickle projectiles can be used and bonuses are provided along the way as further aids. The final twist is that that game is timed.
ANALYSIS OF THE GAME’S CONSTITUENT PARTS
As mentioned above, the condiments – mustard, mayo and ketchup – are used to construct pathways (using the mouse) for your vulnerable meaty friends. Without them, the hot dogs would simply fall to their premature demise each and every time. Once constructed, the hot dogs are able to travel across the level (using the keyboard). As each condiment is used, their respective percentages proportionally diminish. Throughout the game, bonuses are provided to restore part of a particular condiment and points are awarded at the end of each level for how much or how little condiment is remaining in each case.
Ketchup – this filling, arguably the most liked hot dog filling across Neopia and indeed the world, shows as a strong red path (well, obviously :P) and allows for normal movement of the hot dog.
Mustard – this filling shows as a strong yellow path and allows for high, aided bouncing of the hot dog, perfect for getting that just-out-of-reach bonus.
Mayo – this filling shows as a strong white path and allows for comparatively slow, slippery movement of the hot dog.
It is not hard to discern that these characteristics of the condiments do not reflect real food in the slightest, but that makes available all the more room for tactical intuition as we will later see.
Of course, no game would be without obstacles that impede your performance. The enemies in the game are dangerous – one touch of them and you are immediately summoned to your initial position, losing a precious life. The only way by which you can rid yourself of them is firing pickles towards them, using the spacebar, gaining point for your kills. Aim precisely, though – things are in short supply! There are three categories of foes:
Predictable Airborne – these follow a traceable path in the air in and around a particular area of the level. Once their paths have been determined, they are easily destroyable or avoidable. They include the immobile blue fireball, the mobile yellow fireball, and the mobile, long-beaked insect/bird creature.
Predictable Ground – these follow a traceable path on the ground, much like the airborne enemies. These include the giant black monster, the mutant green walking hot dogs (when Hubert's genetically modified hot dogs go a bit too wrong!), and the vertically bouncing Dribblet. Note that the Dribblets disappear once you have lost a life on that same level.
Unpredictable Airborne – only one enemy falls into this category, but, unfortunately, one should be the most wary of this foe. It goes by a purple and blue bat-like appearance and will seek your hot dog out 10 times out of 10, even from the farthest parts of the screen.
Note that, even though after a short while no indication of points being awarded for enemy kills will be displayed, increments to your point total will occur.
In order to balance the difficulty of the game out, bonuses are provided along the way, which offer points either directly or indirectly.
Condiment refills – as mentioned above, these help refill part of one of your condiment supplies, depending on the colour of the bottle concerned, helping you gain a better bonus at the end of each level. Each bottle regains 40% of its respective condiment.
Star bonuses – these offer points directly, either 100, 200, or 300 points depending whether a 1-star, 2-star, or 3-star is collected, respectively. They will not necessarily always be on the path you take to reach the key, order slip, and door, as they are not paramount to your completion of the game.
Pickles – pickle-resembling bonuses, offering five extra pickles fundamental to thwarting enemies, are offered at random points in the game. These will need to be searched out, but offer no points.
Lives – in the form of mouth-watering hot dogs, these bonuses offer another attempt for your hot dog to complete a level and indeed the game itself. Again, these will need to be searched out, but offer no points.
TIP AND STRATEGIES
No guide would be without both crucial and unapparent tips and strategies necessary for maximising your score and enjoyment fulfilled from the game. As a gold trophy holder, I will do my best to explain the key knowledge in this field:
Know which bonuses to seek out. The key to getting the best score possible is getting only those bonuses which matter and neglecting those which do not. In order to do this, you must know off by heart the positions of the star bonuses, for these offer enough points to make a noticeable difference to your score. Pickle and life bonuses should only be obtained on the way to completing the game, and condiment bonuses are not at all necessary to get for reasons I shall explain very soon. Of course, when making an effort to know the general gist of each level, sacrificing some time for (what the advanced player would consider) unnecessary bonuses is fine.
Know which condiment to use. Yes, that’s right, you only need to worry about using the one condiment – mustard. The reason being is that the propulsion it imparts on you, allowing you to bounce extremely high rather than merely walk, culminates in a much quicker completion of each level and requires the use of much less condiment overall. This tip alone improves your score in two ways!
Use separate hands for both keyboard and mouse use. I personally find using your strong hand for the mouse and weak hand for the keyboard, quickly switching to press spacebar to kill enemies, allows for a more rapid completion of each level, rather than alternating between mouse and keyboard use for just one hand. The game is unique in that it requires equal abilities for both mouse and keyboard use – being proficient with both in tandem is vital.
It is occasionally beneficial to lose a life. Although this tip necessitates a need to know each level fully and to be capable of not losing the “careless life” which we all so easily do, the transition back to the start of the level can help you get from A to B quicker and thus complete a level quicker as opposed to travelling there manually. The quickest method by which to die is to touch an enemy – resort only to falling off the screen when it is advantageous for your score.
Kill as many enemies as possible (within reason) and by all means kill the pink/blue bat-like creatures before it is too late. Enemies offer a surprising amount of points and once your aiming skills are top-notch, reeling them off becomes almost a mundane task.
I can assure you that scores of users will find the game slow in comparison to other games. Don’t try to work against the slow speed of the game – try to work with it. When trying to ascend quickly, create mustard paths approximately one third of the way up the hot dog. To your surprise, this creates the means of rapid ascending rather than rendering the hot dog either stuck in the mustard or actually falling through it. When mounting platforms, mounting them sooner rather than later can add those few extra points onto your score.
The final tip I give you is a fairly trivial tip but again essential – use the large arrows provided on the screen to travel to your objectives. This can prevent you from travelling too far or too short of your goal and helping you gain precious points.
Though the graphics and background to Hot Dog Hero may thrill many a Neopian, the tactics required to maximise your score, which I hope I have made aware to you, are even more exciting to analyse and put into practice. With time, the game will evolve much like Whirlpool, another of Neopets' classic games – users will continuously seek faster and faster methods by which levels can be completed. This guide provides you with a foundation for obtaining a high score, but I encourage you to see that you could do so much more.
Disclaimer – No walking, talking hot dogs were harmed in the making of this article. In-game hot dog harming, however, is at your mercy.