Key Quest: For (Fun and) Profit
Author's note: All puns intended. Even the unintended ones.
Key Quest may well be Neopia’s best-kept secret. At least as far as earning neopoints is concerned. Each game takes about ten minutes and nets players at least 500 NP. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that 500 NP is a really, really, really, really, really low estimate. Well, maybe not that low, but you get the idea. Each game will usually net you twice that, counting what you get from opening the prize vault. The only catch is that you only get to use ten keys a day. That’s like one for every finger you have.
Now that you’re done imagining your fingers as vault keys, you’ve probably started wondering about all the neopoints that could be sitting in your bank RIGHT NOW if you played more Key Quest. Don’t worry. The tricks to playing Key Quest successfully are coming right up. But first make sure you have a basic understanding of the way the game works.
There are oodles of guides out there about what the power ups do and the instructions for the mini games and what each square means and all that jazz. Check out a few of them if you’re unfamiliar with the way things work. Or, better yet, just jump in a few games and see what happens! All squared away? Good. Let’s go.
The neopoints you make in the game (by landing on the NP squares, the locations like Edna’s tower, and the treasure chest) are only a small fraction of the total neopoints you make playing Key Quest. The real rewards are in the vault, when you turn keys in. Gold, and to a lesser extent silver, keys unlock codestones and neggs rather frequently. They also unlock fairly useless books, stamps, sea shells, and petpets with equally astounding frequency. Anyway. The codestones and neggs can be put in your shop for between 1500 and 8000 neopoints each, depending on what you get—and the time of day. Excited yet? You should be. The first question you should ask yourself is: What kind of games give the highest return per time spent?
The answer, in short, is two-player, five-key games. The explanation, in long, is that any more than two players takes considerably longer because of special power ups and more player turns. Five-key games award a gold key to the winner and a silver key to the unfortunate not-winner. Four-key games award only a silver key to the winner.
Which map should you play on? That’s mostly a matter of preference. I personally prefer Sweet (1 and 2 are the same map, just with different colors and enticing delectables to make you want to stop playing Key Quest and raid your nearest sweet shop), but only because I know that map best out of all of them. Moving on: How do you actually win? Gold keys are, after all, better than unfortunate, not-gold keys.
I’m going to skip most of the “get the keys and get to the door” bits for the sake of space, and time. Instead, I’m going to run down the list of power ups, which ones you should like, when you should use them, and what they mean for the game in general. Then we’ll chat for a bit about some of the mini games, and finally I’ll throw out a few random things that have occurred to me over the hours of questing for keys (even the not-gold kind).
Power Ups. There are a lot of them. Ones marked with an asterisk also have a super version, which does the same thing as the normal version, only better. I’m leaving out the ones that don’t ever appear in two-player games. Ready?
Battle Dice: These are basically worthless. Sometimes you win a power up; sometimes your opponent wins a power up (which is BAD). When you do have to duel, for whatever reason, remember that paper is the easiest of the three to click, so you should favor scissors. This doesn’t mean that you should never pick anything else, though. The rules change completely after ties.
*Boots of Flight: Pretty good, as far as good power ups go. Remember that the average and most common result on two dice is seven. The average on three dice, for the super version, is ten and a half.
*Catapult: (Only the super version appears in two-player.) Kind of mediocre. The times you want to use it you’re already fairly far behind in the game, so depending on the map it MIGHT save you. Otherwise, it’s more of a nuisance than anything else.
Distraction Potion: Pretty close to as good as it gets. The only power up I like more is Rainbow Fountain Water. This can be used both offensively (to fill out your key collection when you picked up doubles of one) or defensively (to stop your opponent from walking through the door with a set). It can also break your game if you trade away the wrong key, so think carefully before you do. Give away a key that’s easy for you to get another of if you need it.
Giant Lint Ball: My third favorite. Use these when your opponent is within four squares of something important, like a key, a power up, or the treasure chest. They have a 50/50 shot of rolling four or more, so it’s usually worth the gamble. Better the closer they are to important things. Devastating on the Sweet maps around the green-portal-red key pick ups.
*Key Grabber (Only the super version appears in two-player.) Pretty straightforward. If you have this, you’re golden. If your opponent has this, you’re unfortunately not golden.
Loaded Gummy Dice: I LOVE THESE. They’re not as good as the key switchers or lint ball. Please, please, please don’t ever forget that you don’t have to choose to roll a six. Use these all the time to land on the treasure chest or dodge a pesky square, like a faerie square that isn’t your alignment.
Misdirected Compass: Another meh power up. Sometimes useful, but rarely. They’re more of a nuisance, like being sent back to start.
Mortog: Situationally useful. Use these about the same as you would Virtudice—a quick way to get around the map.
*Pile O’ Dung: They don’t appear very often, but when they do they’re hilarious. Block your opponent at a crossroads to make them go the wrong way, or wall them in for a turn. And make sure you’re on the opposite side of the map, or you’ll be washing the stink off your token... for a long time.
Pocket Portal: In the same category as Mortog, only for portals instead of your opponent. Use them to cut travel time.
Rainbow Fountain Water: Probably the most powerful power up in the game. The key grabbers are better in three- and four-player games. Use these to break your opponent’s key set or fill a hole in yours. And be wary of your opponent’s having them—you may have to make different choices to play around them.
Rainbow Sticky Hand: If you have a Rainbow Sticky Hand, and they have a Rainbow Sticky Hand, you had better Rainbow Sticky Hand their Rainbow Sticky Hand and wait a round to use their Rainbow Sticky Hand to Rainbow Sticky Hand whatever it is that you want. Otherwise, just grab a Distraction Potion, Rainbow Fountain Water, Giant Lint Ball, or one of the super power ups.
Spare Keyring: Mediocre, but you should always play as though your opponent has one. If you have to pick up a duplicate key, make sure you take a key your opponent already has. There’s no need to give them free keys.
Tornado Ring: Random power ups are random. This is pretty bad as far as power ups go. Use it to try to get rid of your opponent’s Distraction Potions and Rainbow Fountain Waters and your Spare Keyrings and Tornado Rings.
Transporter Helm: Can be good or useless, depending on the game. Use it to hop around the board or block your opponent from taking keys. Pretty devastating when they’re a square away from the last key they need and you’re on the other side of the map.
Virtudice: No reason to complain. Free sixes are cool. Just check where you’re going to land before you commit to using it, and don’t use it when you’re close to a treasure chest. Take the chance first. Your insta-six will be there next turn. Probably.
Phew. That’s quite a list. Now, a quick jump to mini games. Again, I’m going to skip the “this is how you play this game” bit and focus on a few tips that could improve your win rate. Also, I’m going to skip over the games that don’t appear in two-player very often.
Berry Blaster: It’s easy to get stuck shooting at whatever berries you see, but keep an eye out for the ones that are popping up, and constantly move to shoot them. In a close game, this will make or break your score.
Flower Frenzy: The first one is always purple. The subsequent ones are always adjacent to the one that came before it. Make sure you wait for the “Your turn” to show up before you start clicking, or you’ll end up ahead of where the game thinks you are, and that’s bad. Try to reduce the travel time between clicks by clicking near the edge of a square and hopping just over the line. Before the game times out, you’ll get through a sequence of seven lit-up flowers. Sometimes you can start the eighth, depending on your connection and clicking speed, but don’t count on it.
Neogarden Grow: There are sweet spots where you can water two flowers at once. One is just to the left of the little house in line with it; that one hits the two right flowers. For the second, put your watering can over the brown center of the yellow flower so none of the brown is showing. This cuts off half your watering time. Wait until all the flowers are grown before cutting them, as this does two things: it cuts off time spent switching between the watering can and the shears, and it means your opponent has no idea how far you are... until it’s too late.
Nova Matcher: Fairly straightforward. Stick to pairs that are close together as long as you can, and don’t spend too much time trying to find a second nova if other matches are available. Also, make sure you’re pairing the novas you think you’re pairing. Double check to make sure the first of the pair is highlighted before clicking the second one.
Petpetpet Snare: You can circle more than one petpetpet at a time for a point bonus. In close games, this will make the difference, so make sure you get all the ones that are clustered together in one swoop... of your mouse.
Spyder Scare: Fairly straightforward. You move in the direction of your eyes. Every once in a while one player will get stunned with a bright purple aura, and then they usually lose.
Some Final Thoughts:
Remember that all of your opponent’s options are known to you. You know what power ups he has and that he can only use one a turn. Of course, there are random events in the game that can shake things up, but for the most part you’ll know how the game is going to turn out within the first couple turns. Plan ahead.
If your opponent has Rainbow Fountain Water, try to guess what he’s going to do with it. If he doesn’t have any doubles of keys, you can bet he’s going to use it to stop you from completing your set. Try to hold on to a Rainbow Fountain Water or Distraction Potion until he does to make up for it, or plan your route to pick up some extra keys.
If your opponent has a Rainbow Sticky Hand, use the power ups you least want him to have. Using said Rainbow Fountain Water at a sub-optimal time is far, far, FAR better than letting your opponent have it, even if you just use it to turn a white key into a white key.
The flip side of this coin is that your opponent always knows what your options are. Try to figure out what he thinks you’re going to do. Most of the time you should do it anyway, but at the very least you should be prepared for what he can do about it—what power ups he has available to combat your Rainbow Fountain Water or what paths he can take to pick up the missing key. If playing that Rainbow Fountain Water doesn’t hurt him because he can just pick the key up again in three squares, don’t do it.
On a completely unrelated note, your goal in the game should be to pick up four keys by landing on their squares. In Sweet, this would be the key of your starting area (blue or yellow), red, green, and white. The fifth key you should try to pick up by winning a mini game, landing on a treasure chest, or Distracting Potioning it away. On most maps, there’s one key that’s way far out of the way, so being able to... acquire one by another means is a huge advantage, especially if your opponent can’t.
There are probably a dozen other things I’ve forgotten to mention, but this should get you far in your Key Quest... err... quests (and I’ve gone on quite long enough; you should be Key Questing by now!). On average, you get about one negg or codestone per gold key turn in. On an unlucky day, you’ll walk away with the neopoints you won from the game and forty neopoints from the forty one-neopoint items you found behind the door. But don’t worry; it all averages out in the end. Averages out to about 4000 neopoints per game. ;)