More Backgrounds on a Budget
Recently, the Neopian Times published Backgrounds on a Budget, my guide to shopping for the perfect background to complete your customization job, while keeping within the constraints of a relatively modest budget (the title is kind of self-explanatory, I suppose). I don’t know if it’s my latent sense of altruism speaking (probably not), but as soon as I sent off the first article to the editors, I felt a strange need to continue the work I started. My job isn’t done; there are many more alternative background options I can explore for those who don’t want to spend a fortune to make their pet look beautiful. So I sat myself back down, browsed shops, and compiled a second article, featuring five additional background options for those of us who can’t afford to break the bank, but still want our pets to be the best-dressed in Neopia. (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 6: a dark night with something big, bright, and important happening in the sky
1st Choice Background: Faerielands Destruction Background (lowest price: 430,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Fireworks Background (lowest price: 110,000 NP)
I know this one sounds like a little bit of a stretch, but, honestly, are they all that different? Was Faerieland crashing into the ground really all that different than a big fireworks display? What? That’s kind of offensive to the faeries, you say? Yes, they’re extremely different? Okay. Never mind where I was going with that, then. While the occasions depicted are not at all similar - one is Faerieland tragically crashing to the ground, and the other is a festive fireworks display - if colors are your main concern here, the two bear a passing resemblance. And if your pet is dressed in a way that requires something to be happening in the sky, won’t either background do the trick? If these are the goals you’re looking to meet, the Fireworks Background is definitely your best bet, due simply to the fact that you save about 300,000 neopoints by choosing it over the Faerielands Destruction Background.
Situation 7: standing in front of a Neopian wheel
1st Choice Background: Wheel of Monotony Background (lowest price: 7,000,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Wheel of Misfortune Background (lowest price: 1,900 NP)
They’re not the same wheel, I know that. They’re not even in the same world. But how different are all the wheels, when you get right down to it? You pay money to spin them, they spin a little bit (sometimes a lot, for the Wheel of Monotony), and you win some kind of prize. As far as I’m concerned, these two wheels (Monotony and Misfortune) may as well be the same thing, since I have the worst luck in the world when it comes to spinning the Wheel of Monotony. No matter how many times I spin it, I never get the avatar; I only ever get lottery tickets or lose hit points. The Wheel of Monotony is rarely kind to those patient enough to wait for their prizes, so why honor it by customizing your pet standing in front of it? That pet is only going to get bored, and quickly. Why not spare your pet the hours of waiting by using the Wheel of Misfortune Background instead? They’ll never know how much you saved on it (I promise I won’t tell them).
Situation 8: star gazing
Background: Star Gazing Background (lowest price: 2,450,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Starry Night in Neopia (lowest price: 57,000 NP)
**Bonus Budget Buyer’s alternative: Moon and Stars Background (lowest price: 1 NP)
In my opinion, the Star Gazing Background is one of the prettiest backgrounds available. The price is anything but pretty, though, with the lowest priced background I could find ringing up at nearly 2.5 million neopoints! I’ve had enough experience digging through my alternatives by now to know that, if I looked around, I could find something just as pretty for a much more reasonable price. Sure enough, I soon encountered the Starry Night in Neopia background. While this background doesn’t have the word “Background” anywhere in its name, a quick thread on the Customization NeoBoard assured me that it would fill the need for a background that would enable my neopets to stare up at the night sky without requiring me to spend my vast fortune* on the Star Gazing Background. After finding the Starry Night in Neopia, I don’t believe that any quality was compromised. The Starry Night in Neopia is just as beautiful as the Star Gazing Background, though they’re not identical, and comes in well within my budget.
**After a few moments of continued searching, I stumbled across an even less expensive alternative hiding in the dark depths of my closet. I refer, of course, to the Moon and Stars Background, which costs pennies compared to the Star Gazing Background. It offers an equally large expanse of stars for your beloved Neopet to gaze at, plus bonus moon! It can be purchased brand-new for as little as 1 neopoint, the most reasonable price I’ve encountered in my entire time searching for low-budget customization options.
Situation 9: a spooky place (probably in the Haunted Woods)
1st Choice Background: Entrance to Haunted Woods Background (lowest price: 1,700,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Spooky Tower Entrance (lowest price: 25,007 NP)
The Entrance to Haunted Woods Background is one of the most expensive backgrounds in all Neopia. Looking at it, it’s easy to see why it’s so desirable. It’s creepy, the prefect backdrop for a pet customized for Halloween, since it’s right outside the Haunted Woods! The mist adds just the right amount of mystery to it. It has inflated impressively since its release, mostly because it was an exclusive virtual code prize from a promotion that ended in 2008, so there are a very limited number of them. On the other hand, you have the Spooky Tower Entrance, which is still being actively released from Mystical Surroundings. It has the same style of stone structures and the same eerie mist in the background. It doesn’t require a huge leap of logic to say this tower is probably in the Haunted Woods, though it doesn’t explicitly say so. You have the same characteristics in both backgrounds, the ones that actually make the background creepy, so why would you spend nearly two million neopoints buying the Entrance to Haunted Woods Background? That’s just silly.
Situation 10: prehistoric pets surrounded by Tyrannia’s rocky landscape
1st Choice Background: Tyrannia Concert Hall Background (lowest price: 150,000 NP)
Budget Buyer’s alternative: Tyrannian Concert Hall Background (lowest price: 99,900 NP)
**Bonus Budget Buyer’s alternative: Tyrannian Cliffs Background (lowest price: 11,998 NP)
If you look carefully at the Tyrannia Concert Hall Background and the Tyrannian Concert Hall Background, they’re almost identical. The only thing that changes here is the angle from which the concert hall is being viewed, and even then, it’s almost imperceptible. Even the names of the two backgrounds are nearly identical, the only difference being the presence of an additional “n” in the latter. It doesn’t make much sense to spend 50,000 additional neopoints, then, to have a background that is the same as another, but without an “n” in its name.
**I happened to notice the Tyrannian Cliffs Background in my shopping for something entirely unrelated. While the other two backgrounds in this category are effectively the same thing for different prices, that’s not the case with the Tyrannian Cliffs Background. The similarity between this background and the others is less immediately obvious. However, this background is equally beautiful, and does an equally good job of showing that this pet needs to be in Tyrannia for whatever reason. This background is more sunny than the other two, not illustrating one of Tyrannia’s famously beautiful sunsets, but if a pet were to be customized wearing this background, it would do the trick, would it not? It would also save its owner nearly 90,000 neopoints in the process. Buying this background is a win-win.
The Budget-Conscious Neopian does not need to be self-conscious about saving a few pennies. With just a little bit of work, it’s really easy to find great backgrounds to substitute for more expensive ones. Your pet’s glorious customization need not suffer, and you both can win if you spend a moment really looking at the dozens of options you have.