Change - Best Served With Item Drops
For the past few years, or since the Dr. Sloth plot at least, my only use of Neopets has been logging in every now and then to buy stocks and to throw my pet into the Ninja School if the codestones weren’t too expensive. Sometimes I completed a Kitchen Quest or two hoping to gain some hit points. My demanding job, demanding wife, and online college courses were the main contributors to my lack of playing time. I also just bought a laptop recently, so since Neopets wasn’t bookmarked anymore, I didn’t login at all for a long time. You can hold onto your “congratulations for quitting” letters, though... I’m not done yet.
I just so happened to remember to log in to check my stocks a couple weeks ago when I noticed a news update... involving all the faeries in Neopia being turned to stone. “This is an interesting turn,” I thought. “I bet there will be some plot battling on the way...”. So I started logging on after work and late at night, prepping for what I hoped would be a battle. I started doing Kitchen Quests, using the Training School, and frequenting the boards more often. And as of this past weekend, fighting countless Wraiths once the battling began. You can start writing your “welcome back” letters now, because my Neopets addiction feels like it’s back. And it feels good.
Now a lot has changed on Neopets since I last frequented it, like customization (really cool, but I still have an non-customizable Grey Kacheek) and tons more items and new shops and games, but I’m just going to focus on my favorite part of Neopets; plots and wars. The remnants of my neofriends (there are more “Account Frozen” notices on my friends list than seems possible) keep telling me that they miss the “good old days”. Wars, with little else. And you know what? I miss those days too a little bit... but just because it reminds me how much I have grown as a person, and how far this website has come as well. A lot of time has passed, and to Neopets' credit, they've evolved over the years for the best.
First, Neopets has perfected the battling portion of plots so it doesn’t take up too much of your time... unless you want it to. The cap limit keeps you from needing to vanquish 10,000 minions just to stay in the running for a good prize. The slow increase in strength of each released enemy keeps powerful pets relevant, since it is difficult for newer battlers to defeat Brutes and Furies. And just when I thought I was comfortable with a few hundred wins each... the item drops began. Even though I was well over the win caps, battling a few hundred more enemies seemed much less inconvenient, and more fun and exciting. Codestones and Neggs are awesome prizes since I love to train my pet, and most of the other things I was able to make a small profit on in my shop.
The puzzles have also improved vastly. Looking back, I don’t know how I managed to complete the Altador plot. All that stargazing to find the right constellations took ages, and the Lost Desert plot wasn’t much better with all the mazes and mindless clicking. I actually think they still give me nightmares and I just don’t have the patience for that these days. The puzzles so far in the Faeries’ Ruin plot have been fun, and challenging... but it hasn’t been taking full days to complete just a single step. The puzzles have also felt more relevant to the plot than in the past; the way they connect with the story telling is just flawless and makes following the group on their adventure that much more fun. Whereas in the past I used to look past the puzzles hoping for battling... these days I look forward to the puzzles as much as battling.
Returning characters are vital to television shows, book series, and comics, and Neopets is no exception. Seeing our favorite Neopets like King Altador, Jazan, and Hubrid Nox add a very fun element to the storyline, connecting it to plots, items, and events of the past. The new characters are well written and fun, and the mystery of who is behind the plot, and who is hiding something, keeps the suspense as thick as the air around the Esophagor. The second Hubrid Nox running around causing trouble while Hanso simultaneously falls into and gets out of trouble is just quality fun.
The best part of this plot is that it is moving along and in a great direction, but still seems to have a lot of legs left. That means more fun puzzles are ahead of us, and hopefully more battling as well (that Hubrid Nox double has got to go down!). They haven’t even touched the surface of what they could bring to this adventure, and I guess that means even more time for me to get back into the routine of playing Neopets. The staff members responsible for writing the story have done a great job and after each update, I already can’t wait for the next part of the plot!
But I digress. Although the “glory days” of Neopet wars seem to be behind us, it really doesn’t matter to me. Simple wars have been replaced by plots that feature puzzles and battling, and to me it seems like a perfect mix of everything Neopets does best. And they do it very well. You can tell TNT has spent a lot of time on this plot, because it shows. I just hope it lasts as long as it looks like it may, so we can keep enjoying the battling and puzzles through Halloween!
Alright, well now that I’ve reminisced a little bit I’m going to go read all of the welcome back mail that just flooded my inbox. And afterward I think I’ll contemplate making my Kacheek customizable so I can dress him up a bit. I mean he was having trouble seeing those Wraiths; maybe I should buy him some glasses...