Backgrounds on a Budget
It can be hard to find the perfect background for your pet. As hard as it is to customize beautifully, sometimes the right background can make or break an entire outfit. Unfortunately, not all Neopians have the unlimited budget necessary to buy the backgrounds that would work best with our pet’s look. The Budget Buyer has to work hard to overcome these budget constraints, while still making sure their pet looks as beautiful as it possibly could. Despite this, there are plenty of backgrounds available, that, although not quite what we had in mind, can work just as well (or maybe better!) while not breaking the bank. Rejoice, my fellow Neopians, for it is possible to own the perfect background without spending all the money in your Draik fund! (Note: lowest prices listed are the lowest prices found on either the Shop Wizard or, in cases of unbuyables, the Mystery Island Trading Post at the time of writing, and may not necessarily reflect market prices at the time of publishing.)
Situation 1: blue sky with clouds for a flying pet
1st Choice Background: Faerieland Cloud Background (lowest price: 8,500 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Cloudy Sky Background (lowest price: 9 NP)
That’s not a typo. The Cloudy Sky Background, with luck, can be yours for only nine neopoints. The Faerieland Cloud Background is a recent item, released as AAA’s prize on day 3 of the Y13 Daily Dare site event. Because for some people (including me), Faerie Bubbles is a difficult game to score highly on, AAA’s prize will be released in relatively low numbers. The price of the Faerieland Cloud Background is likely to continue to increase as the event continues, and perhaps skyrocket within a year of its end. However, the Cloudy Sky Background has kept a mostly stable price for quite a while now. And, look at the two! Is there really a difference? Both have gorgeous blue skies and equally inviting, puffy clouds! The only difference here is the price. While the Faerieland Cloud Background isn’t something that would traditionally be considered “expensive,” there are alternatives for less than what you would earn in a single round of Potato Counter.
Situation 2: scary cave for a scary pet
1st Choice Background: Creepy Cave Background (lowest price: 120,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Dark Cave Background (lowest price: 44,977 NP)
These two are slightly less similar than the previous two on the list, but that’s no reason to discount the merits of buying the Dark Cave Background over the Creepy Cave Background! Look into the mouths of both caves. In the Creepy Cave Background, you see small red eyes, staring back at you. Those eyes do not inspire comfort. I’m terrified of this cave. But looking into the mouth of the Dark Cave, I feel equally concerned. There’s a sense of unease here as well. If your torch were to burn out, this cave promises that you’ll never find your way out again. You’d just wander around forever, bumping against the walls, slowly forgetting the feeling of the warmth of the sun, resigning yourself to a life of never-ending despair. *shudders* What was I saying? Oh, yes. Both caves are equally scary, but only one promises not to also make your piggy bank cower in fear.
Situation 3: training school for the pet in training
1st Choice Background: Mystery Island Training School Background (lowest price: 23,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Shenkuu Training School Background (lowest price: 4,650 NP)
You’ve purchased your favorite Neopet a full ninja uniform. A ninja would look a little out of place at the cheese shop, though, so you’ll need to get a new background that better suits a ninja-in-training. You have options here. You could buy the Mystery Island Training School Background. Some would argue that this is a more logical purchase. There is no training school in Shenkuu, and it’s highly likely that your darling pet will actually be training at the Mystery Island school. While this is true, the Shenkuu Training School Background is equally attractive. It even has several features that make it better. First, there are sais and katanas embedded in the wall. You want to show off your pet’s skill, don’t you? Anyone looking will assume it was your pet who broke all the boards lying in the corners (even if it wasn’t)! Second, and most importantly for the Budget Buyer, is the price. With a little luck, you can save nearly 20,0000 neopoints on a background that is, for all intents and purposes, the same.
Situation 4: witch’s background (just in time for Halloween)
1st Choice Background: Sophies Hut Background (lowest price: 41,109 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Ednas Shadow Background (lowest price: 13,998 NP)
While there are some areas on the Shop Wizard that return Ednas Shadow Backgrounds for almost the same price as the Sophies Hut Background, refresh once or twice and it’s easy to see that the Ednas Shadow Background is a much better pick for your money. Let’s take a look at the dominant features of both, shall we? The Sophies Hut Background features a bubbling cauldron on the right side of the room, presumably in the back. The Ednas Shadow Background features a similar cauldron, though one that is overflowing. Other than that, the color schemes are similar, and the Ednas Shadow Background even has the “bonus” of having Edna’s Shadow appear twice, watching you every moment of the day! For those who are asking, no, she did not pay me to say that at all! Most importantly, though, you can save a bucket of neopoints by choosing the Ednas Shadow Background over the Sophies Hut Background.
Situation 5: underwater background for an aquatic pet
1st Choice Background: Underwater Background (lowest price: 490,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Underwater Shipwreck Background (lowest price: 200,000 NP)
**Bonus Budget Buyer’s alternative: Underwater Net Background (lowest price: 8,600 NP)
Though these two aren’t anywhere near identical, they serve the same basic purpose. Do you have a Maraquan pet, or have you customized your pet in an outfit that would be suitable for underwater exploration of some sort? Either of these backgrounds will do for you. This, however, is the first entry on the list where both options are not buyable on the Shop Wizard. Because of this, this one doesn’t seem to be a budget option at first glance. Really, though, it is. With a little luck, you can find a seller for the Underwater Shipwreck Background at a reasonable price, and save nearly 300,000 neopoints in the process. It’s not a cheap option, but it’s the most attractive that will give you sweeping underwater scenery for less than the Underwater Background. Since both convey the basic idea (your pet lives underwater, and it’s underwater swimming in the ocean right now), the Underwater Shipwreck Background is the better buy.
**This one isn’t quite the same as the previous two in this entry. The other two provide lovely expanses of open water, while this one brings with it the claustrophobic sense of being trapped in a net. However, the colors will still fit well if you needed a color scheme similar to that of the Underwater Background or the Underwater Shipwreck Background. If money is really tight, this background will do in a pinch. It still tells people that this is an aquatic pet in its natural habitat, and if that’s the main point you’re getting at, this background is absolutely the one for you. This is the best option for an underwater pet with a budget-conscious owner.
Customization is a hard job. Some people do it just to make their pets look pretty, while others do it to actually enter their pets in competitions. No matter why you customize your pets, though, there's no reason why shopping with your budget in mind means you have to compromise on finding a background that works.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate any and all feedback!