Review: Neopets Puzzle Adventure

Infendo

Looking for some type of “Puzzle” game fix during the holidays? How about a game that was developed by Griptonite Games? Or maybe you are just looking for something casual with colorful graphics and nice music. Well before you actually decide to pick anything up be sure to check out my review as it may save your life.

Before we get started let me just say that for a game that is based on a large online community such as Neopets. Trying to do something like that justice in the form of a puzzle game that does not have online wifi gameplay is a challenge. For clarification online internet game play is better know as wi-fi, wi-fi play lets two people play a match over the internet. This game however does not have wi-fi play but it does have wireless game play, which is where two people who both have a DS system can battle in the same room.

As you begin the game for the first time you are allowed to create and name your own Neopet. You are able to choose from twelve different creatures which you can customize to the extent of choosing one of six color choices. Ranging in the style of ROYGBIV, for you non-art folks that is Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Then the final choice is deciding what gender your character is going to be, which is basically just putting either lipstick or eyelids with lashes on the male characters design.

After you have done all that hard choice work is done you finally have a chance to decide if you want to begin the “Story Mode” or select “Instant Action”. Instant Action is the quick way of avoiding the story and just playing a quick battle/match or accessing the various unique mini games. Those mini games allow you to either create items that can power up your Neopet or unlock certain things. One mini game in particular “Quick Draw” is only available in the DS version of the game.

Now, If you were to select Story Mode you are instantly pushed into the games poorly designed “adventure” driven story. Which instantly makes you the goody two shoes errand boy who is forced into saving the world (Neopia).

The game starts you out in the mountain (town) Land of Shenkuu, where your first objective is to approach the town gate. As soon as you do that you are greeted by some pink tiger who needs help with a “pet pet” who is running a muck in a tea house. So you soon quickly agree to help her out and complete the mission (otherwise you can’t progress with the story). If you return triumphant from that little excursion you had she quickly thanks giving you a reward and tells you to go deliver a message. Then you go do that and that person asks you to do something and it’s the same thing over and over.

Until you actually get to some slight sliver of the games story of dark cursed amulets. Which you don’t even learn about until encounter about 3 hours into playing the game. However, you would think you would get some story about the Land of Neopia or about various happenings of the land, but all you learn about is this ships crew and how they are packing to get ready to leave Shenkuu. This outline of story repeats the same way until you reach the climatic of the game and actually “stop the bad guy”.

Neopets Puzzle Adventure primarily uses the touch screen for everything, navigation, game play, and conversations with various other characters. However, you do have the option to use the D-pad to move the map around so you can look around and press A if you want to during NPC chats, but it just wastes time if you put the stylus down to do that, when you can just tap your screen and drag.

Game play wise the game is a fine melding pot of Riversi (Othello), Go, and I would have to say Pokémon. The only reason I say Pokémon is because throughout the entire story (if you can say there was a story) you acquire various “pet pets” when completing missions. You either find them or they are given to you as payment. These “pet pets” grant you various powers during your battle/matches with the inhabitants of Neopia.

A Match generally consists of you either trying to gain control of most of the game board by taking over your opponents chips or completely capturing all their chips early on in the game. Although the best way to progress it to actually draw the match out so you can gain experience points to level up. The heigher level you are the more “pet pets” you can use during a match. The battle system in itself is vary basic and easy to understand, as all you have to do to capture an opponents chip is to trap it between two chips of your own color. Another great thing about the games battle system is if you happen to get stuck and not see a move you can do, the game will display moves to you so you can make one.

However, the game gets tricky when you and your opponent use multiple “pet pets” as you can easily turn the tide of battle. Various powers they allow give you the chance to change your enemies chips, or erase them, or place more of your own on the board. This is supposed to be one of the charms of the game, but can easily get boring after a while.

Visually, I would have to say that the game is very stylish, as the places you happen to visit are very well drawn. With vivid detail into the backgrounds,  even during the poorly written in game chats, I would spend that time to examine the art that was in the background. I would say that the art style in itself is another charm of the game has.

Along with the art style the game features very unique and sooth music and background tracks. Although you only hear a few different tracks throughout the game, each one is very unique and has a certain ethnic sound to it that makes it feel special. Shenkuu the mountain town for example has a very Asian look to it. So you can easily notice that the background has a very Asian sounding theme to it. featuring somewhat unique ethnic intstruments.

However, the fact that this game does not have an ounce of decent story that could hold my attention for more than a few hours at a time was really a disappointment. As Neopets Puzzle Quest had a lot of unique things going for it that could have made it one of those sleeper hits that game collectors might want. Especially with the way it mixed the quality of game play, visuals, and music althoughther in a fine package.

From a gamer standpoint that leaves you left out in the cold and distant from the world that is Neopets. I can only recommend this game to a young chidlren who likes games but hates reading or do not care if a game has a story. Since the game is colorful enough to keep their attention for a while. Although, it really depends on how much that child would enjoy playing a game like Riversi/Go, or how much enjoyment they can get out of a few mini games that they can play right of the get go.

Another let down is the fact that the game doesn’t feature any Wi-fi battling feature and only offers wireless duel mode. With that I can’t find myself recommending this for an adult unless you are looking for another casual game to add to your collection.

The only thing this game really has going for it is the tie in with the official Neopets website. Since you unlock special codes that can unlock secret things in the online community. The only way you can unlock these codes is if you complete certain aspects of the game in a particularly challenging way.

Overall two out of four stars.

two stars

You can actually experience a short online demo which was posted here on Infendo.

An artist from New York. Will has been writing, designing, and loving video games since he was young. He has traveled across the United States, and parts of Canada in order to learn more about the world of gaming. After visiting E3 for the first time in 2009, he has vowed to return there and show off a game of his own. In his spare time he tinkers with electronics, programming, and of course collecting video games.