I ♥ Year 20!
While walking through Neopia Central, the author named above found this article, printed on a single tattered page, lying among the items donated to the Money Tree. From the unimpressed attitudes of the pets nearby, it was clear that they had no idea of the provenance and significance of the scrap of newspaper. Accordingly, it was decided that it should be published in the Neopian Times under the name of its finder, so that the discoveries found within should not go unnoticed by the population. Its true author is unknown.
As each year passes, there is a familiar mixture of excitement and nostalgia in the heart of every Neopian. Tonight, this 31st day of Celebrating, is no exception. As glasses of Neggnog and Krakuberry fizz are raised to welcome in the new year, many of us will be looking back at the events of the past three hundred and sixty-five days. Every year brings new discoveries and happenings to our colourful world, but none of us, I'm sure, will ever forget the excitement of this past Year Twenty.
The celebrations of New Year, almost twelve months ago now, continued into the Month of Sleeping as TNT finally gave its citizens permission to own five pets per account. The news was followed by an almost unprecedented rush at the gates of the Pound and Neopia Central's hatchery. A fourteen-year veteran Neopian, thirty-one-year-old Rainbow Daydreamer, was quoted as saying "About time, too." The poets of Neopia were rather less pleased with this development, however. "Four is such a useful number," an artistically-inclined Chia complained. "It rhymes with score, more, bore, floor, deplore, Icklesaur..." His words failed to change TNT's decision.
The space explorations begun almost five years ago, too, have continued to pick up pace throughout the year. The most important discovery, of course, is without doubt the race of Alien Gelerts found approximately four light years from Neopia. This first contact with an extraneopian race will doubtless bring many technological advances and new understandings of our universe, as soon as the peace envoy dispatched in the Month of Storing manages to convince the inhabitants of the new planet to stop chasing our Alien Aishas.
Closer to home, stock market investors suffered a nasty shock during the Month of Relaxing, when Neodaq figures appeared to fluctuate wildly, displaying sharper and more frequent peaks and lows than had ever been witnessed. However, an independent investigation headed by Sarah Zafara of the Neopian Advice Centre discovered that Nigel Chia had been zapped by Boochi some weeks before and had confused his price change chart with the colouring book bought for him by his head accountant. “This is a disaster,” declared one of TNT’s artists. “We finally got around to updating Nigel’s images and now he suddenly gets zapped Baby. We asked for extra money in compensation, but the support team said it could happen to anyone and it was our own fault for making him so prominent.” The resultant scribbles were subsequently erased from the record.
Sharp-eyed Neopets were seen bringing their magnifying glasses to the newly established Microscopic Shop early in the Month of Swimming, with the release of the eagerly anticipated 3P Pets, tiny bugs invisible to the human or average Neopian eye. "We did consider the name Petpetpetpets but decided that was just too silly," said a content designer for TNT. Allegations that the 3P Pets can cause unexpected illnesses in the pets purchasing them have so far remained unproven. "The idea that microscopic bugs can cause sickness is ridiculous," claimed Dr. Gelert, retired ex-consultant at the Neopian Hospital, blaming a lack of education among the general public. "When I was practising, everyone knew perfectly well that diseases were caused by the Wheel of Misfortune, Poisonous Jellies and Hubrid Nox." Meanwhile, for those who preferred to remain in the realm of the visible, the much-delayed Royal Petpetpet Paint Brush was finally released, leading to a few days of frantic renaming as owners finally found out whether their Mootices, Cooties and Veespa were male or female.
Not all the events of Year 20 have been favourable, of course. Still fresh in the minds of many Neopians is the outcry that arose when the list of banned words on the Neoboards was once again extended, this time to include "macaroons", "rubber duckie", "eternity", "python", "Newtonian", "galoshes" and the ever-popular "hi". A rebel group calling itself the Rubber Duckie Galoshes established itself and tried to sway the opinion of the moderators, but disbanded a few days later when it was found, predictably, that no-one could mention its name. The sale of rubber duckies in the Toyshop was not significantly affected.
In a controversial move to promote revenue, TNT also allowed selected businesses to place slogans and images on the headdresses of Island and Lost Desert Neopets. "After the placement of advertisements on pets' clothing, owners' clothing, Neohome walls, school books, Petpet baskets and the inside lenses of Cool Black Sunglasses, displaying our logo on painted pets' headdresses seemed like the next logical step," said a spokespet for Shoyru Enterprises. "We believe that 'on-pet' advertising has a great future in Neopia, and look forward to expanding into an exciting new initiative: slogans on the stripes of Kougras' tails."
A self-appointed spokesperson for the Help Chat, meanwhile, described the new advertising as "a sell-out" and "the end of Neopia as we know it." When asked whether this would make the 3,767th or 3,768th such end of Neopia since Year One, he declined to comment.
In a sad reminder that no trend is without its casualties, this year has also seen the emergence of a new Neopet sickness, Indecitis, defined as a terminal state of indecision over how to customise one’s appearance. One owner, who prefers to remain anonymous, has been putting her Lupe through expensive therapy since the Month of Awakening. “I used to think customisation was a harmless hobby,” she said, “but when the new multi-coloured lenses were released, he got so caught up in worrying whether the pattern of his eyes complemented his shirt that he forgot to eat.” The management of Unis Clothing, now the highest-earning shop in Neopia, maintained that the problem had been misrepresented and could easily be solved with the introduction of a robotic accessory that automatically fed pets at regular hours. The suggestion of such feeding spoons in a variety of styles and colours has reportedly been rejected by TNT.
No account of this year’s thrills and spills can leave out the tremendous upset of the thirteenth Altador Cup this summer, when thanks to a series of bizarre accidents, hexes and unfounded allegations of corruption, Team Faerieland swept past the competition to take the winner’s trophy. When asked for his opinion on this incredibly unlikely event, Derek Poogle of Poogle Racing and Betting Shop, Inc. said “Wha--? How did you find me? No, I haven’t got any more money! Get away! Get away! Please just leave me alone, all of you!” Meanwhile, Neopia’s most famous Yooyuball commentator, with typical restraint and insight, responded “RAARGH”.
With the maximum limit on Neopets' given names now raised to fifty characters due to originality issues, the importance of nicknames was once again impressed upon the pet-owning population this year. “I don’t think our owners fully grasp the significance of the nickname situation,” complained Sugarangelbellakittystarlovefairmoonheavengirl, a typical pet of Neopia’s new generation. Meanwhile, for the first time in living memory, Dr. Death and Rosie of the Adoption Centre spent three days on strike, demanding "larger record-books and more ink". Their reasons remain unknown.
Not everyone resorted to such peaceful measures in the face of adversity, however. The citizens of Neopia Central were alarmed late in the Month of Gathering when a masked owner, whose identity remains unrevealed, threatened to de-feather the Down for Maintenance Pteri in full view of the public if his demands were not met. To their credit, the Neopets Team remained resolute and incorruptible when faced with this threat, refusing to supply the masked marauder with even as much as a hint towards the “Rocket-Powered Meepit” avatar, which has so far remained unobtained and unsolved for six and a half years. (Rumours that the solution may involve standing on one’s head, chanting “Neopets is spiffy” in binary code and sacrificing a chocolate biscuit to the tiki gods remain unsubstantiated.) The Pteri was eventually recovered in a thrilling rescue by the Techo Master of Mystery Island, with only slight plumage damage around the head and tail.
Another minor rebellion took place later in the year, when some older pet art was given a revamp to fit in with the latest graphic display technology. Despite the fluid and attractive moving poses of the Neopets that won critical acclaim from many sources, a significant number of fans were unhappy, demanding a return to immobile, or IM, Neopet poses. “This is a blatant slap in the face to Neopets’ most loyal fans,” commented one owner. “Seeing my Xweetok without that cheerful upraised paw just makes me feel ill. Ten or eleven years ago, the artists really understood our Neopets’ character. TNT should have stuck to the perfect, flawless standard of IM Neopets and not been swayed by the latest trends.”
So what does Year 21 have in store for us all? Well, we already have some idea of what we can look forward to. If rumours are to be believed, the betatest of Key Quest 11.0 will soon be complete, including all-new Meepit Attack, Forfeit, Evil Bree, Trophy, Trivia, Truth, Dare, Double-Dare, Kiss, Command and Promise spaces, not to mention the introduction of the 150th mini-game. Whether the new board will contain 600 or only 500 squares has yet to be decided. The flexibility of mobile (“M”) Neopets is only set to increase, with the next planned development being the ability to see your Neopet tucking into his or her Sausage Omelette or Rainbow Slushies in real time. Many of us are also looking forward to the official opening of the Centre for Neopian Psychiatry, dedicated to dealing with such pressing psychological issues as the gender confusion of frequently-labbed pets. And for all those Neopian veterans as well as newer players with a sense of history, some exciting news: TNT has promised that before the start of Year 22, Neopian Justice really will be served. Honestly.
For the purposes of avoiding rampaging Lawyerbots and confused Neopians, I would like to point out that, contrary to the claims above, this article is a humorous endeavour in the spirit of the fine Neopian classic "Jump Into the Future", and not to be taken seriously. All the events described in this article were invented by rainbow_daydreamer with a little help from her friends. Any resemblance to future happenings in the year 20 or any other is entirely coincidental.
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Ben scrambled to his feet, dropping the worn old jacket he'd been working on. His needle clattered to the floor, rolling underneath his chair.