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Carnival of Terror: An Avatar Collector's Guide


by costumely

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Welcome back! My goal in this article series is to provide YOU with a game plan to get that avatar for Neopia's trickiest Flash games. This week's focus is Carnival of Terror, a classic shooting game in which you must defend a Haunted Woods carnival from an invasion of Dr. Sloth's Chia Clown robots.

     In the past, I've stuck to guides for games that are skill-based, with at most a modest luck component. Carnival of Terror is not like that. You can play a perfect game and still fall short of the avatar score. However! One good thing about the game is that it's short. The average game length is less than two minutes, and I personally have never played a three-minute game. So while you may have to play several times before you get that lucky game, it won't take you too long. There are also tactics to minimize the impact of luck that I will go through; they involve a little math, but nothing too complicated!

     GAMEPLAY

     The game is straightforward: Chia Clowns will run across the screen or drift from above on parachutes. Your job is to shoot them, earning yourself points. You can get up to 13 points from a single Chia Clown; two from hitting the head or legs, three from hitting the arms, and six from hitting the body (four shots total). You can also get one point for striking the parachute of an airborne Clown. Note that once you strike the body, the Clown disappears. You don't necessarily need to hit the body; however, if you have hit both the arms and legs of a Chia Clown on the ground, it will vibrate back and forth, and then explode, costing you health. Watch out for that!

     There are three constraints: health, ammo, and time. You start off with 10 points of health, 100 shots, and 100 seconds on the clock. You lose health when a Chia Clown explodes, and if you get hit by a custard pie, which is thrown randomly by the Clowns. You can shoot the pie before it strikes you, netting you one point. Power-ups that parachute from the sky allows you to refill all three meters. They look like a box with a green X (health), a brown box with a skull (ammo), and a clock (time, obviously). Ammo and time power-ups are crucial to a successful game!

     Lastly, the game has two secret codes, both of which are very useful in the quest for the avatar; type "piecrust" to return you to full ammo, and "custard" to return you to full health. Note that if you hit zero health or zero time, it's instantly game over, but you can hit zero ammo. It's shooting the 101st time that ends the game.

     STRATEGY

     Setting yourself up for success begins even before opening the game. First, play the game on the largest size screen possible. The increased distance between Chia Clowns is more than offset by how much easier it is to successfully hit power-ups and Clowns in the background. Second, if possible, play with a mouse, not a trackpad. I have found that using a mouse increases both my speed and accuracy.

     When starting a game, no Chia Clowns appear for the first few seconds. In those seconds, you want to type all but the last letter of one of the codes (ex. "piecrus" or "custar"). I usually found myself running out of ammo before health, but experiment with both. When you do need the code, all you need to do is type the last letter ("t" or "d" respectively) and voila! It will work. You don't lose time having to type it during gameplay.

     Now, Chia Clowns will start appearing. Find yourself a rhythm for maximizing points: for me, that was striking the Clown's arms, then legs, then double-clicking the head. The first shot would take out the head, the second shot the body. Thirteen points, easy! I only did this for Clowns in the "foreground"; for the smaller Clowns that ran in the distance, I would aim just for the head and body to avoid wasting ammo. Similarly, I never aimed for parachutes on any of the Clowns, since it only awards one point. If many Clowns run across at the same time, aim for the legs to slow them down.

     Next, let's discuss the powerups that fall from the sky. Do not hit the health powerup! Low health will almost never be the reason you lose, and the loss of ammo is not worth it. On that note, you should let the custard pies hit you and rely on the code, rather than shooting the pies. Only go for the health powerup or the pies once your health is in the yellow after you have used the code. On the other hand, you definitely want to get ammo and the time powerup- you will need multiple to win!

     Like I said, this game is dependent on luck. Even a perfect game won't get you the avatar without the right powerups. But what if you get, say, five clock powerups and only one ammo? That's where the math comes in.

     Counting the ammo code, you have 200 shots total. If you get the maximum points from each Clown, that's (200/4)*13 = 650 points (from 50 Clowns). That's not enough to hit the avatar score. What if you only hit the head and body? (200/2)*8 = 800 points (from 100 Clowns). That's over the avatar score, but it's unlikely to see that many Clowns in one game.

     You can think of the first scenario as high-ammo, low-time (so every Clown counts), and the second as low-ammo, high-time (so every shot counts). You should generally play using the first strategy. However, in a game with more clock than ammo powerups, switch to the second strategy. Once you're low on time, switch back to maximizing points at the cost of ammo.

     THE END

     Even with a strategy in mind, it will take you several games before you get enough powerups at the right time (Who needs an ammo powerup at the beginning of the game?) But hopefully, when you do get that perfect game, you can turn it into an avatar. Good luck!

 
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