Guide to Mastering Hannah and the Pirate Caves
The game Hannah and the Pirate Caves is not new. However, not everyone has yet discovered the secrets of the game, or mastered the gameplay, or even gotten a good score on it, enough to try sniping that Pawkeet-like gold trophy, for countless reasons. Some of them don’t have the time to spend on it; some got frustrated on one particular level and then couldn't go further with the game; and maybe some don't know much about it and need to learn the basics before even thinking about trophies. Or even worse: some can't run the game because of the Flash player.
That's why I'm making this guide. This is not the perfect game for earning Neopoints quickly, but it can be very rewarding as you see your skills increasing and the secret avatar of the game -- and the trophies -- getting closer. Also, it has a classic game style, as it is reminiscent of when videogames consisted of a two-dimensional world where one character (you) needed to go through the most dangerous obstacles to reach the next level. Yes, it lacks a boss, but that doesn't matter too much, as the challenges of fast-thinking, dodging, running, and diving are enough obstacles for the end of the game. This is the meaning of the guide: with a bronze trophy and a maximum score of 356,000 (not much, but still enough for a gold if sent on the first day of the month), I think I'm able to teach you about the secrets of this challenging, strategic, and frustrating game that will be, as your skills grow, very fun and rewarding.
Before starting, however, there's a point to review. Hannah is a game of practice. Actually, every game on this site is about endless practice. It is even possible to go for a guide to all games, as some of them tend to look alike (some have a maximum score, for example), and they can be grouped together, for example, in the ones that need patience, the ones that need quickness and memorisation, etc. Anyway, if you really don't want to spend so much time on this game, give up on it, even before starting. Unless, obviously, you want that great and nice-looking avatar. If this is your situation, or if you really want to become a Hannah master and get a shiny trophy, stay here, get a cup of tea, and let's keep moving.
Starting with the basics of the basics: search "Hannah" on the game search, and you will find the game Hannah and the Pirate Caves smiling at you. Click it. Easy, isn't it? So, you'll see that you will need a Shockwave plug-in (if you've played Neopets for a considerable time, you'll already have it, but if you don't, try to download it from a trustworthy source), and it also says that inside the game there is a great tutorial, so it's recommended for you to follow it. So, start the game and try the tutorial Level One (Basic Training). There are six tutorial levels (Basic Training, Arrows, Boulders, Dynamite, Water 1, and Water 2). The level "Water 1" is about the basics of the water, and "Water 2" introduces you to a new type of level, in which the water level doesn't stop going up, meaning that you will have less time to think on the level (because if you spend too much time, Hannah will drown).
Seriously, I could put every control and everything about boulder-pushing and arrows here, but the tutorial is good enough. There are no words to explain the game better than it can, so just follow these six first levels to get used to the game.
Another thing to point out before starting is that there are no cheats for this game. That means that you won't write anything during the game to win an extra life, nor there is a secret password to go to the next level. Bad for you, but think about it: other users won't use it either, so you are still on the same level.
So, if you've played the tutorials and know the basics, or if you didn't need to because you already know the basic gameplay, let's go to the first step on the long journey for the 750 Neopoints per day.
Step One: Unlock All Levels
The game Hannah and the Pirate Caves has 26 levels (or 26 caves, whatever is your preference), including the six tutorial caves (and then the levels One, Two, until Level Twenty). The first and foremost thing to get better at the game is unlocking all levels. The first ones will be easy, and as you go through them, you will start to get used to the gameplay and will get one important quality for this game: practice. A great advantage is that if you lost at, let's say, Level Twelve, you don't need to start at Level One again, because the Level Twelve will be now available to be chosen. Surely, starting from the beginning gives more points, but to unlock all of the levels, it's best to start from the last level you couldn't complete.
There are two things to be gained from this time spent going through all the levels. The first one is practice, which you'll need in order to reach that astronomic score. The second one is about the levels themselves: as you advance in the game, the levels become harder and harder, sometimes appearing almost impossible to beat. Solving them will both increase your hand-eye coordination skills, which you'll need a lot in the end, and mind skills, i.e., your ability to think strategically and go to the next level. Thinking is very important in this game, as some of the levels fool you into pursuing one course of action when you should've done another. Each level is a little riddle that has to be discovered and memorised to the extent that when you enter certain level, you know exactly how to beat it without losing a single life.
There are some issues about levels that will not be deeply studied in this guide, but that should be commented on. You will face three types of levels. One of them, my preferred kind of level, consists of pure thought. Beating it is a matter of thinking and solving a puzzle, and memorising it for the next time you need to complete it. Obviously, you will still need some "hand skills" to make it through. And also, the layout of each level should be known as if it were your own home. But these specific levels require more brains than the others. A good example of this type is Level Nineteen.
Another type of level is that with ever-increasing water. To go through these ones you’ll need to run, as water is coming fast. Hesitation is forbidden; knowing where the treasures are is a life-or-death issue. From the moment you pressed the jump button to start the level until you've reached the door, the game is literally a race. The most common example is Level Seventeen.
The final type of cave is all about action. While they may be a mix of the two first types, these levels tend to hinge on one arrow or dynamite thrown that will start a chain reaction, and then you will have to run or you lose. Think before hitting that arrow, and after you've set it off, run or the way will be closed. In this way, all the treasures will be found, and in the end is the door. Time your actions to synchronise with the falling boulders, exploding arrows, and dynamite, or doom awaits. This is a great description of the last level, Level Twenty.
All the other levels are easier versions of these three or are a mix of two or more of these level types.
Step Two: Find Every Gem
When you finish the last level, a final message will appear, congratulating you and telling you that there is one gem on each level, and you should go back and try to get all of them. However, when you were playing, you should have already noticed them. Well, if you want a nice score on this game, you should consider finding and collecting as many gems as possible, as each one adds a whopping 5,000 points to your score. They are, for example, the difference between a gold trophy and somewhere right below the bronze trophy. Get the gems at all costs.
Playing for the first time, it is a little hard to find the gems, but after getting the first one, things get a little easier. They are usually hidden inside the walls, and to reach them you must find secret areas. These secret areas are passages inside the walls, and they are spotted because there are some little dots on the wall where a secret area is hidden, just like that wall next to the door on Tutorial Level Five ("Water 1"). On levels with a green wall, such as Level Two, it is a lot easier to see the secret area, as the dots contrast with the walls, but they can be really hard to find in certain levels.
It is not the goal of this guide to mention the exact location of all the gems and how to get them. Maybe it should be, because finding gems is almost half of getting a good score. Still, though, this is not the goal of this guide. First, there are a lot of other guides, even in past Neopian Times editions, based specifically on gem locations. Second, I hope you urge to find them on your own, and telling their locations here is like a spoiler to you. Or maybe not... thinking a little, it is obvious that a reader would want to know the exact positions of the gems by reading guides on the Internet, so good luck searching for answers and ruining all the fun I'm trying to give to you. I will never tell you that the last level's gem is right below the door in a secret area, nor will I ever mention the fact that in the third tutorial level ("Boulders"), the game lies to you and the real deal there is to wait for the boulders to fall so then you can climb them and enter a secret area. Forget about it, you'll never hear it coming from me.
However, gems still need more attention, and there are some points to consider about them, listed below.
- On Tutorial Level Six ("Water 2"), Level Seven, and Level Nine, the gem does not exist or is unreachable. So, the game lied to you. There are only 23 collectable gems.
- You may have already noticed that if you hit a box with an extra life, even if you lose a life at that level, you won't find that extra life again. This is needed because players could purposefully lose and get extra lives all the time, beginning an infinite loop of a permanently rising score. But fear not; gems reappear even if you get them and then lose a life. Not much of an issue, but it should be mentioned.
- In the early levels, knowing the exact position of the gem should be enough, and seizing them should be no problem at all. But as the game goes on, in the more advanced levels, knowing where the gem is and actually collecting it are two completely different matters. For example, in Level Nineteen, to get the gem you must run right after the first arrow that returns from a big chain reaction happening below, and the time you'll have to jump before the second arrow comes is very short. Not waiting for it is not required to finish the level, but it is to grab the gem. As it is very difficult to perform, there is a choice between finishing the level safely and risking one life for that gem. My opinion? Go for the gem. Practise that level over and over until jumping after that first arrow becomes as natural as breathing or blinking. This way, there will be no risk on a 5,000 point bonus. This is the meaning of practice.
Step Three: Make Your Score
So, as you've probably realised, the great score is based in a single game, basically snipe-shooting for the maximum points, starting on tutorial Level One ("Basic Training") and going through all 26 levels gathering as many points as you can for the score. "Great thing," you say, "now I know how to finish the levels and catch the gems. It's showtime!" Then you start your mission for gold, gathering all the treasures and breaking every crate and collecting every possible gem. And then you fail miserably. Sad but true, at least most of the time. This happens because you ignored some lines of this guide, and the lines of every guide of every kind of game that has ever existed on Neopets, and read the word "practice" as just another fancy word. Too bad, because practice is not a dream; it is a reality.
After the first fall, don't give up. It is nearly impossible to reach an outstanding rank on the High Scores table on your first serious game. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up on the game, review your gameplay. Try to find out what levels are the most difficult and annoying for you, and where you lost the biggest number of lives. And then, practise that level again. For example, let's say you lost three lives on Level Eight. After losing, go to Level Eight and try to beat it again. Learn how to go through that annoying skull the best way, or start avoiding that dynamite that will kill you when you explode it. Correcting these flaws is the first key to success.
Another source of points are unbroken arrows, dynamite, and crates. Breaking them gives you points, and thus they are a nice source of points to add to your score, apart from treasures and gems. As game goes on, though, breaking extra crates that are not needed to end the level gets a lot more difficult. So, instead of going for the difficult crates, leave them alone. To be honest, the best answer is to try getting that crate and practising more if you couldn't go for it, but there is a little secret about this game: even if you practise it for years, you won't ever be sure of making it through without losing lives. Go for the gems, because they are worth it and give 5,000 points, but forget any crates that are dangerous to reach. Getting as many points as possible but staying safe at the same time is the second key to success.
Then, there is another point. Even if you practise for weeks, you won't be able to get your terrific score on your first play. The scores will be very high, and usually at this point you will have been rewarded with the Hannah avatar, but sometimes it won't be enough for the trophy. So, don't get frustrated. Completing all 26 levels in a row is a difficult task, and thus you will need to play it more than once, as any kind of mistake can cost you a life. Just keep trying, and one day you'll see that you've passed 25 levels without losing a single life, and then in Level Twenty, you'll look at your score and smell that gold trophy coming, and the sensation will be amazing. Trying again and not getting frustrated over a single mistake is the third key to success, and maybe the most important one, after skill has reached its limit.
However, there is a little difference from other games that shall be noted here. In some games, it's a common practice to lose some lives on the last level on purpose to get more points and finish the game with a better score, but I don't recommend that here. Hannah is the kind of game that just completing it gives enough points for a trophy. But there is one way, if you really want those extra points. Look at your score, the number of lives remaining, and the score needed to get a gold trophy at the time. If you are sure you're good enough to beat Level Twenty any time you like, you have lots of lives remaining, and won't get the trophy if you win right on the first try, do it. Know, however, that finishing the level with the highest score possible gives you 18,885 points, and restarting it after getting the gem but not going through the door will give approximately one-third of it. So, if you have three or more lives to spend, are 20,000 points away from your golden trophy, and have just started the last level, lose a life purposely (but at least try to reach the door), and then go for the door. Be careful, though; abusing this practice can make you lose the game without ending the level, and this is even worse than losing on purpose one or two times.
So, that's it. Hannah is a really nice game, as it has lots of secrets to uncover even if you already know a lot about the game, such as some of the more difficult-to-find gem locations. Also, there is no way to reach perfection, and every time you play, chances are that you'll lose a life in a level you know like the back of your hand. This little type of randomness is a kind of a charm of the game. But anyway, the game needs a lot of practice and it can be very frustrating, so don't worry if it doesn't captivate your heart. Maybe I could make you at least watch the game with a different point of view.
And after you've successfully played Hannah and the Pirate Caves, liked it (or not), and gotten the trophy (or not, as it's not that easy), why not play Hannah's next adventure, Hannah and the Ice Caves? It has brand-new levels and lots of new kinds of fun, but there are some differences. The biggest one is Armin, the Bori helping you to go through the levels, and thus, the strategy you'll be using will be rather different, as you will use both of the characters. Also, there are some minor differences. For example, your boulders shall hit annoying flying ghosts, which didn't happen in the Pirate Caves; some creatures may be destroyed by Armin; and you'll have trouble standing still on that icy floor while walking. So, after some delicious time in the Pirate Caves, take some precautions and try going to help Hannah again, on ice!
Author's Notes: Feedback appreciated. Thank you _shiny_sableye_ for tips on writing guides.
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"This uncle," Thick asked as he paced around the dusty floor. "You say we visited him often?" With a testing sniff of his sensitive nostrils, he added, "This place doesn't ring any bells at all."