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Volcano Run II – A Game Guide

by tsiegred


     We’ve all had it happen. You start playing Volcano Run II. You get to your best distance ever, and then something always goes wrong. A fireball goes way higher than you’d think, a rock moves faster than you’d expect, your finger slips on the mouse, and all of a sudden, Glubgar’s on fire and you’re down a life and really, really bitter about it. Will you ever get that avatar? I think you can! With a bit (okay, a lot) of patience and some luck, almost anyone can get the avatar. I thought it’d be almost impossible when I first started, but now I have a gold trophy! This is my first-ever guide, but I hope it will be helpful to any Neopians struggling to obtain the elusive Volcano Run avatar.

     How to play—obstacles, items, etc.:

     The premise of the game is pretty simple—you have to navigate Glubgar through the volcano without running into any objects. If he collides with something, you lose a life. The things you have to worry about are the rocks, the walls of the volcano, the fireballs, and the lava spouts. We’ll talk more about those later, but a primer couldn’t hurt here:

     Fireballs move horizontally, i.e., from the right side of the screen to the left. They come in ones, twos, and threes.

     Walls are self-explanatory. They’re the upper and lower borders of the volcano.

     Rocks either stay still or move vertical, i.e., up to down and down to up. Some rocks move faster than others. You’ll frequently need to traverse sections with both moving and still rocks.

     Lava spouts only appear near the middle of your run. They’ll come in at least a group of two, but possibly more. They spout a column of lava that stretches from the bottom to the top wall of the volcano. Your strategy will usually be to speed past one and wait out the other.

     You use the C and V keys to slow down and speed up Glubgar, respectively. You’ll need to use these keys a lot. They’re not only really helpful for pacing and positioning yourself, but they also have interesting properties: the C key will make Glubgar thinner horizontally, while the V key will make him thinner vertically. Also, note that you can’t slow Glubgar down forever; when he touches the extreme left side of the screen, he’ll go back to flying at his normal speed. Similarly, if you hold V and he touches the extreme right side of the screen, Glubgar will fly at his normal speed again. Though this probably should never happen; danger is always imminent in this game, and you want give yourself as much time as you can to react to the various obstacles it will throw at you.

     There are two main sets of items that you need to watch out for: gems and shields. Gems are your bonus points. Yellow ones are 10 points and red ones are 20 points (though much, much rarer). They're really important for reasons I'll detail soon. Shields protect you from one hit from a rock, a fireball, a wall collision, etc. and last for roughly five or six seconds. They give no points. They’re also considerably less common than gems and appear much less frequently than they did in the prequel to this game, Volcano Run. I’d also argue that they’re less useful than this game than they were in its predecessor. They seldom appear in useful spots. They don’t hurt to pick up, but it’s almost never worth it to go out of your way to grab one. Unless you just really like them. They do look pretty nice.

     Getting the avatar:

     In order to obtain the avatar score for Volcano Run II, you need at least 1500 points. This is no mean feat, especially since Glubgar can only fly up to 1051m. Naturally, you have to find another way of making the other points, and here’s where bonuses come in. From my experiences, this is how people typically spend their lives: they use one for overall distance and the rest for collecting as many bonus points as possible. It’s important to note, however, that you can only collect up to 450 bonus points before the gems are replaced by a cluster of three fireballs. “Wait,” you might inquire, “does this mean that I have to get the maximum distance to get the avatar?” No, you actually don’t! There’s a certain trick that you can use to get more bonus points: try to make sure that you collect the gems in such a way that you only have 440 bonus instead of 450 (this means avoiding a gem if necessary). That way, bonus gems will still appear later in your run and you can get at least 470 bonus points—or more, if you’re lucky and get some red gems—before the fireball barrage. It is important to note, however, that 470 bonus will only get you the avatar with a distance of at least 1030m. If your distance is below that, you’ll need a bit of luck. Fortunately, sometimes one set of gems will spawn right after the other, which means that you can collect at least 500 bonus points! Again, it does require some patience and a bit of luck to get the six-gem sets to spawn. So even if you have less than 1030m, don’t despair. Unless you get unlucky, in which case, be my guest.

     The trouble with the fireballs is the reason why you should only go for distance in your first life and avoid as many gems as you can. Before finally getting the avatar, I’d lost several runs just short of 1500 (I’m talking 1498 close) simply because I’d collected too many gems in my first life and thus couldn’t feasibly go for a second run. It's an awful feeling to watch yourself get so close only to fail, so I'd recommend dodging any gems that you feel comfortable with avoiding.

     Also, before I forget, turn the sound off. Volcano Run II is distractingly loud, particularly the start screen and quit buttons. You also probably don’t need or want to hear the music or the flutter of Glubgar’s wings.

     Playing the game:

     Just as a quick general note: Whenever I play, I’m most comfortable keeping Glubgar in the lower half of the screen, slightly left of center. I’m not sure if this is an optimal way of playing or if it’s just comfort, but it’s a good position. It’s pretty easy to react to where the fireballs are going and move accordingly. There’s also plenty of room to back up and rise slightly in case you encounter a lava spout or a couple of fireballs you need to wait out. Just be ready to switch to the top of the screen at a moment’s notice.

     As another note, actually, typing Glubgar will give you an extra life. I don't find it particularly useful, but it never hurts, especially if you sometimes get jittery and lose a lot of lives collecting bonus points.

     I. Early game:

     Somewhat ironically, this is where I tend to mess up the most. It’s pretty simple, though. For the first 500m or so, you’re basically going to be navigating passages of varying length. They all present their unique challenges: the wider ones may be difficult because of the moving rocks they contain; the medium-width ones because of tricky fireball arrangements; and the extremely narrow ones because of the amount of clicking you have to do to keep Glubgar from hitting a wall. Of course, obstacles can appear in corridors of pretty much all widths; I was just giving example situations. But we can tackle all of these difficulties in this guide, I hope. I’ll give a couple of fairly common scenarios and say what I’d do in them. We’re also going to tackle the obstacles of this game in a bit more detail!

     Fireballs: Fireballs are probably the most complicated obstacle to avoid in the game. In wider passages, they’re not a problem. You just go over or under them as you feel like it. Fireballs typically come in three situations: (a) as a single fireball that follows a row of three gems, (b) in a duo, one right after the other, or (c) in threes after you’ve collected all of the bonus gems you’re given.

     You should be dealing with single fireballs with a few doubles for basically the entire game. I think the hardest single fireballs to avoid are the ones in the middle of the narrow sections and the ones next to moving rocks. I’ll cover what to do about the moving rocks pretty soon, but I’ll try to talk about the fireballs in narrow sections for now. Essentially, you want to speed just above or below it for a split second and then return to normal speed before you hit a wall. It’s an extremely tricky maneuver that requires a lot of practice to hit consistently. I’ll be the first to say that I can’t do it reliably. Don’t fret if your run comes to a premature end from one of these fireballs, though; there’s always next time. “Next time” can even be your next life if you collected little or no bonus! As for the double fireballs, they generally aren’t too hard to get around. If you have to move around or through them, do so. If they’re grouped together in a tighter corridor, it can be good to brake, wait for them to separate from each other, and weave through the space they leave.

     If you’ve maxed out your bonus and you don’t already have a distance over 1000m, restart. Or play it through and cry. Whichever.

     Moving rocks: If the rocks are still, they shouldn’t be a problem: just maneuver around them like they’re really big, motionless fireballs. If they are moving, you can use a combination of speeding up and slowing down to thread your way through them. Sometimes you’ll need to be fast and slow down almost immediately after speeding up, then dash under a rock again! Figuring out how to get around the rocks can be a bit tricky at first, but it becomes a lot easier with practice. Use your judgment on when it’s okay to move past a moving rock.

     Moving rocks can be tricky in smaller sections as they are often accompanied by fireballs, but that’s (usually) okay! You just need to figure out where the fireball’s going to be, speed past the rock, and dodge the fireball. Sometimes it’s really hard, but you can often find a way.

     Narrow passages: The narrowest passages shouldn’t have any fireballs, or at least not until very late in the game. You’ll be in a tight space with barely enough room for poor Glubgar to fly. However, you can do it! Just maintain a steady height and you should be fine. It’s not something that can be taught; it really is just a matter of practice and composure.

     The Midgame:

     Around 500m, the game introduces a new object: the lava spout. It’s a crater in the middle of the ground that pushes up a jet of lava. They almost always come in sets of two, but I’ve seen three once. These seem intimidating, but they’re actually not that bad; at least in my opinion, they’re far less annoying than the narrow passages with fireballs in the middle. Normally I’ll speed through the first one and brake until the second one erupts. You should keep in mind that sometimes there will be more than one lava spout set; they may come in fours or even sixes. In case they do, feel free to repeat the original strategy. Other than the lava spouts, the midgame is more of the same—you’ll have your narrow passages, you’ll have passages with moving rocks, still rocks, and fireballs. If I’ve hit above 500m but end up with a score below 1000 or so, I usually quit out.

     The Endgame:

     This is where things get real. Around 1010-1015m, the cavern gets much smaller. You’ll see lava spouts and fireballs crammed into a minuscule passage. At this point, there’s no real advice I can give other than to go as fast and as far as you can. You only have about 40m to go, so go as fast as you can! Abandon caution! Make risky decisions (as long as you think they’ll pay off). Ideally, you’ll get to at least 1030m, because that makes getting the avatar much, much easier. Just follow the strategy given for the bonus gems: collect up to 440 bonus points, and then what you do depends on how far you went. If you have a distance of at least 1030m: collect a set of three gems and huzzah, you have a new avatar! If you have at least 1000m but less than 1030m, you still have a chance. You need to wait for a set of six gems to appear, which requires a some luck, but if you get all of the gems you need for 1500+, you should also earn yourself a snazzy new avatar!

     Ending Note:

     I think the most helpful advice I can offer is this: don’t panic if you’re getting close to the avatar score. In fact, don’t think about your score. Don’t even look at it until you lose your life. Stay calm. If it really helps, take deep breaths. Take a quick break. Volcano Run II is a game that rewards patience and precision, and it’s substantially harder to be patient and precise if you get nervous as you near the 1000m mark. Focus and finish the last stretch calmly. If you have a close run, you can grumble about how you had no chance of getting away from the fireball, get it out of your system, and move on to the next game. Don’t let it break your cool that you were so close to the avatar. This is actually advice that translates well to all Neopets games, not just Volcano Run II.

     Also, Volcano Run II is a game that requires practice. While I don’t think it’s quite as challenging as its reputation might suggest, it’s still pretty difficult, and it’s certainly not just a game you can just pick up and get a trophy in fifteen minutes later. You’ll have to grind out certain parts of the game a lot if you want the avatar, but it’s very doable! You just have to work for it, and I hope my guide has helped you with something, at least. If I helped you get the avatar or if you just have any questions about this guide or feedback to give, feel free to Neomail me; my inbox is always open. Thank you for your time and good luck with the avatar!

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