6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Neopets: The Darkest Faerie Review

It’s time to look at an RPG that actually had a pretty solid start. Unfortunately it quickly began to falter near the end and this took away from the beginning. The game lost sight of itself as an action platformer and tried to transition into being more of a Legend of Zelda dungeon type game. You can’t really switch like that without having a lot of gameplay mechanics at the ready. This game just didn’t seem ready for this. You don’t even get the hookshot until the final hours of the game and only have to use it a handful of times so why even bother right? I’d definitely still be down with a sequel as long as this game can learn from its mistakes.

The game starts by introducing us to Tor, a kid who’s always wanted to be a soldier. One day he is told to go into the castle and deliver a letter. Along the way he decides to apply to be a knight and actually manages to get the squire license. Unfortunately his sister goes missing, but after saving her his parents allow him to be a full knight. Tor isn’t able to enjoy this for long though as the Darkest Faerie revives herself and destroys the kingdom. Tor must now find a way to restore balance to the universe and defeat her, but her abilities are incredibly powerful. We’re then introduced to our second main character: Roberta.

Neopets handles this rather well as you play as Tor for so long that it’s pretty easy to forget there is a second main character. She doesn’t appear until Act 2. She’s a diplomat who wishes she was a mage instead. Unfortunately that’s just not how things work around here. Her visit is cut short when the Darkest Faerie shows up and conquers the kingdom, enslaving the residents within. Roberta is forced to beat a hasty retreat and ends up bumping into Tor. The two of them are protected from the mind control by their charmed necklaces. They’ll need to enlist the help of the legendary warriors but they’ve been dead for years so reviving them will be the first step.

Part of the issue for the game is that it’s a little too ambitious. As I said, Act 1 is quite long but it’s not very balanced. Acts 2 and 4 are quite short and then 3 is long again. I’m thinking they wanted to make this a grand epic, the size of the world is certainly big enough for that. Unfortunately there is no map system in place to help guide you along the way which is unfortunate. You’ll spend a lot of time stumbling around until you memorize where everything is. It’s not exactly ideal for traveling. Also, there should have been a quick movement system. Walking everywhere takes a very long time and what’s worse is the fact that there are endless enemies blasting away at you and it’s hard to repel their abilities. You can try but there is no point after a while because they revive almost instantly so it’s just a waste of your health. At the same time if you keep running then the damage will keep on adding up as well.

It makes walking around a bit of a chore as things go on. Then there are the puzzles which are not very good either. They really force you to run around and figure things out with little context. A lot of times you will end up hopelessly lost. It’s part of why I like linear games, you never have to worry about guessing. Of course a well made RPG knows how to make sure the instructions are clear so this is still more of a problem with this game. I’d also mention that it can be quite dark but I think that’s more of an issue with our TV so I won’t really count it.

Neopets just gets a bit aimless after a while. It’s a shame because the actual core story is pretty good. This is definitely the most serious Neopets game I’ve played. One character is murdered by getting stabbed and the body count here is reasonable. Everyone is slowly getting taken out or mind controlled so nobody is really safe. It makes for a very ominous backdrop and you have to give the game credit for that. I also thought the graphics were pretty solid as well. The character models were on point and the different levels were all unique. I’d give the soundtrack less points though because there weren’t really any notable music themes here either. You’ll forget all about them pretty quickly.

There isn’t any replay value here either. Once you complete the game you aren’t able to go back and do much of anything. There is some mild travel available as well but most places are effectively gone and without a post game boss to fight why would you even bother getting more equipment and such? It just won’t help for much of anything as it is. I suppose it is a good way to give yourself a little more to do in the game but that’s about it really. This game is also at a pretty decent length so I wouldn’t say it really need a lot of replay value either way. It’ll definitely take you over 10 hours which is always my bar of when I say a game is reasonably long. When you factor in that you’ll probably get lost a few times then that will definitely add to the time as well.

Overall, Neopets: The Darkest Faerie had a great start but couldn’t sustain it. At the beginning this was an action platformer at its core with a solid plot as you tried to save the kingdom. After this the game slowly became more of a quest title where you had to do a lot of dungeons and this ended up feeling like a ton of filler. We really didn’t need that and the game would have been better off without it. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t always make your game longer just so you can say it has a lot of content. Keeping this game streamlined and to the point would have been a really good idea. In that case the review would have been singing a much different tune.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Neopets Petpet Adventures: The Wand of Wishing Review

It’s time to look at a Neopets game that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while. It’s been pretty fun diving into these old games and I’m steadily closing out all of the PSP titles I own. This one definitely has its share of issues, but is ultimately a pretty decent game. It does get that RPG feeling across.

The game stars with a girl and her dog being cornered by a group of goblins. They want the legendary Wand of Wishing and unfortunately the heroine grabs it from the secret location and then lets it get taken into a portal. Her dog heads inside to grab it. The mission will be difficult though as the wand is now in a fantasy land filled with dragons and fairies as multiple factions wrestle for control. This pup is going to have to play hard ball.

I do like that the opening and ending cutscenes both have actual voice acting. I feel like the whole game should have had that instead of gibberish being used as the monster language though. The main heroine definitely isn’t ready for this action adventure though as she actually has a wand that can grant any wish and still lets the villains get the upper hand. There are hundreds of wishes she could have quickly made to make the villains stand down. That would have been a good way to play things. I would have actually been curious to see more of the human world since goblins apparently exist here. Is the world under siege and a sequel would look at that or is she simply in the wrong neighborhood? So many questions and so little time.

As for the actual gameplay, this is an overhead open world RPG action title. You walk from area to area fulfilling various quests and saving the king/queen of each realm. Your weapon can be a close quarters one like a sword or you can use a crossbow. I highly recommend the latter as their range is far greater and their power is better. Whoever designed this game must have had a very high opinion of this weapon because to have one that has better range and power is pretty unheard of. You will definitely want to have a high level of power because a lot of the bosses have Cheese abilities that will destroy you very quickly otherwise. One can freeze you as he lands multiple hits and others fire so fast that you can barely see the attack.

I spent around an hour just trying to cross one room at one point because even the minions were taking me down in a single hit. Just equipping weapon and armor simply isn’t enough. You will quickly be taken down. Your only hope is to go to the gym and level up your core strength, speed, and other stats. Make no mistake, these skills are what’s really going to get you through the door. Using the gym costs a lot of money and you only get an upgrade once you beat the boss but it’s worth it. Soon the minions who were beating you in one hit will barely be able to hurt you. At that point you will have a much better chance at winning.

You can also wield magic but I never quite got the hang of that one. My magical abilities weren’t quite high enough to use most of them so I bought a healing spell and left it at that. I highly recommend the health regeneration spell by the way as you can keep it activated almost 24/7 and it doubles your health recovery speed. It’s incredibly handy in all situations.

One issue about all of this is the money. As I mentioned it is all quite expensive and the problem is that the resources are finite. Once you clear a world you cannot go back and enemies surprisingly do not respawn. This means that if you go too fast you may end up burying yourself in an unwinnable situation. Fortunately that didn’t happen to me but if you like speed-running a game just keep this in mind. You don’t want to skip too many enemies. Honestly they should have just left the worlds open. It also means that you can’t clear the side quests either which is no good.

In general the game suffers from menus that aren’t very intuitive and long loading screens. Going into any area triggers a long loading screen and the menus are slow. You have to scroll screen by screen to get anywhere instead of a quick click. It can be tough to figure out most of the game’s more advanced features on your own as well.

As far as the graphics are concerned, I’d give the game a thumbs up. It is certainly one of the weaker PSP games in that area without a doubt but it is good enough. You can always tell what is happening and at worst the game just can’t load up much beyond what you see so you’ll notice that your attacks don’t do any damage if they hide just out of view. The soundtrack is decent but has no noteworthy tunes. You’ll likely forget all about them by the time you have wrapped things up here.

The story was fun enough as I mentioned but there is one moment that doesn’t make much sense. There is a twist about who one of the villains is and it is ambitious since it is a character that we will need to stop the end of the world. She’s evil but when another villain shows up this quickly goes 180 as she asks for our help. So much for pride among villains. At the end she makes a half hearted attempt to get in our way again but you don’t feel as though it is a serious attempt. Hopefully the other guardians will give her a stern talking to after her antics.

Overall, The Wand of Wishing is a pretty good game. It may not have the depth or length of a standard RPG, but you can still tell that some effort was put behind this one. There are several areas where it could have improved for sure like the loading times I mentioned earlier. Clearer instructions would be good as well but once you figure everything out then you are sure to have fun. Just be sure to go to the gym and buy the best armor/long ranged weapon and you shall be fine.

Overall 6/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Neopets Puzzle Adventure Review

It’s time to look at one of the most intense puzzle games I’ve ever played. At the very least, it’s the best Othello game out there. I haven’t played much Othello over the years, but I knew the concept and figured that I could flex my latent skills on the poor computers. It took a little bit of getting used too and I had to unlock 2 OP abilities, but then I was ready to rock and roll.

The plot follows a young dragon who has decided to save the planet from destruction. He does the laundry, helps people find plants and stuff, etc. He just likes helping people out and always accepts a good game of Othello. His peaceful life is forever changed when a meteor crashes into Earth and giant monsters run out. They all want to play Othello, but this dragon is just one guy. Can he really defeat them all and stop them from crushing the planet just because they can?

I feel like it’s a parody of Yugioh at times since the villains just really want an Othello match. It’s like how every villain decides to rule the world through trading cards in Yugioh. So at first I was having a tough time in the Othello matches and they certainly did take a while for each round. Since there are a lot of Othello matches in the game, I knew that I would need a better way than button mashing. (To be fair, button mashing paid off quite well for a while there) So I bought a special ability that allows me to steal an opponent token and keep my turn. Then I also got a Skeith scepter which lets me steal another piece and use it for combos. With this pair of items I became unstoppable. 9 times out of 10 you’re fighting on the same stage and the opponent would do the exact same thing. I found a way to beat just about all computers in around a minute which saved me a great deal of time. It’s no stretch of the imagination to say that this made the overall game a lot more fun as well. No more waiting or trouble winning, it was all just smooth sailing.

The graphics are decently good. I like the character designs at any rate. The actual Othello board is simple, but effective. The overworld is a little bland though and nothing is very detailed. I suppose you could say that the graphics are average at best. They aren’t anything to write home about, but they put up a pretty good effort and that’s what I like to see. The soundtrack isn’t much though. There aren’t really any good themes. I suppose there may have been one good theme near the end of the game, but I can’t really even remember it anymore so could it have really been that good? I have my doubts about this.

Othello makes up about 95% of the game, but there are two other gameplay styles. One is cooking which I had to do exactly once. The other is matching cards which you use to train your Neopets. I decided that instead of catching them all I’d just pick one so I grabbed the top tier and maxed him out in about 2-3 minutes. I really like the matching cards minigame so I kind of wish that this had been the main gameplay. I suppose it would have been too easy, but I definitely could have gotten behind such a move.

There’s a reasonable amount of replay value here. There are a lot of Neopets to capture and a bunch of side quests as you help townsfolk with their chores. As tempting as this all sounded, I decided to just blast through with the plot. The story mode is reasonably long though so even without all of the other stuff the game will last you for a bit. Content is one area where this game was absolutely not lacking.

The plot may not have been the most engaging out there, but it wasn’t bad. It started out really slow, but the climax really hit it home as we got traitors and end the world plots. There are some rather vague endings like the one girl who jumped into a pool of lava, but the narrarator sounds hopeful that the villain could survive so I’ll just have to take that at face value. The game just ends rather suddenly, but I am glad that they didn’t try to stretch the game out just to inflate the numbers. That just wouldn’t have been the right strategy if you ask me.

Overall, I have finally completed a Neopets game and it feels good. I still have one on the PS2 and one on the PSP that I need to work towards completing. Those two are quite a bit longer and more heavily plot based though so I’ll have to bring my A game for those. I expect that they’ll probably beat this game since the gameplay styles are a little better, but at the same time I’m going to miss my Othello. Who knows, I may never see another Othello game again. I definitely recommend checking this game out and I’d advise you to pick up the Skeith staff and pick a good Neopet buddy. It makes the battles a lot more manageable so then you can enjoy the plot without worrying about the fights. Don’t worry about the lag either, it’s not too extreme for the most part. Although I guess in the end what will determine whether you like the game or not is Othello. The gameplay is pretty faithful to the actual game although there are some special abilities. Make sure you learn how to use them and the board to your advantage.

Overall 6/10