Neopets: Petpet Adventures
Neopets Petpet Adventures: the Wand of Wishing is not only a game with a ridiculous sounding name, but it's also one of the cutest RPG titles that I have ever put my hands on. Instead of being the clichéd lone star chosen one out against the great evil you actually play as someone's pet. A dark force is spreading across the world and it's searching for the Wand of Wishing, which is an ancient artifact of immeasurable power. The wand gets sucked into a vortex and it's up to you as the do-gooder's pet to jump into the gateway and get it back.
When you start your adventure you do have a few options to pick from as far as what type of animal you want to be. Whether you want to play as a dog/fox-like thing, a one-eye cat, a crocodile, or a rabbit-like critter, you can. Each has a different set of attributes such as strength, magic, defense, etc. though it doesn't really matter who you pick in the grand scheme of things. It just adds a little bit of generic and predictable flare to the game since just about other title in the genre does the same with their different races. Once you pick your pet of choice it's time to run around in another dimension and relentlessly bash things until you find the wand.
Since this is a children's game you can't really expect a lot of complex gameplay features. Surprisingly enough though Petpet Adventures does offer quite a few elements that give the game more depth than you'd think it would. I guess it is true that you can't judge a book completely by its cover.
While you'll be spending most of your game walking around and bashing things with your sword you'll also be able to develop your characters to a degree further than you'd expect. The level of customization isn't anything ground breaking, but being able to align your critter to a specific element and train them to gain skill points adds a nice element. Instead of getting like 10 experience points for slaying a monster you actually have to visit a trainer and square off against specific creatures to improve your character. The annoying part about this feature is that you need money in order to compete. That means you'll be spending a lot of time collecting coins and then even more time fighting the same battles over and over again. It gets kind of pointless after a while, but I could see some kids trying to make the most powerful creature possible just to impress their friends.
The combat is very basic here and nothing revolutionary. You'll be hacking and slashing for melee damage, casting some spells for magical attacks, and finding a way to defend yourself. As you'd expect the game can get pretty boring after a while due to the simplicity of the fighting engine, but the game isn't without its challenge.
I was thinking that Petpet Adventures was going to be a pushover when I first started playing. Then I found myself flanked by enemies and on the receiving end of a puppy pummeling. I have to admit that I was embarrassed, but it showed that the game had some AI to contend with. It's certainly a good thing but I think that it has more to do with your enemies just attacking you as soon as you are spotted instead of employing any real strategy.
As with most children's games, this one is very linear from start to finish. You walk around and talk to various people for quests and such, but the progression constantly pushes you forward with a singular goal in mind. You don't get a lot of opportunity to explore the world but to be fair when it comes to the younger crowd it's best not to let them stray too far from their mission.
In the end this game offers up a fun little adventure that fits right into your pocket. For you older gamers the light RPG elements, simplistic combat and linear quests will undoubtedly bore you. There is however a surprising amount of depth to be found in every aspect of the game that we just don't see in children's titles now-a-days. It's a cute adventure that will keep the kiddies enthralled for roughly eight to nine hours; especially if they love Neopets.
If you have ever played a dungeon crawler type game where you run around hacking and slashing your way across the map then you'll feel right at home here. The game takes on the overhead view that we've all come to expect and you can adjust the camera's angle by pressing the shoulder buttons. Sure you can only rotate it left or right, but it does help for finding your way around some stages where there are a lot of trees or buildings. The environments themselves are decent enough with some fine textures, but don't expect anything too revolutionary. There is a fair amount of variety in the stages as well, even if they are simplistic in design.
The characters are unfortunately a completely different story. The designs for them are simplistic with limited textures and an even more limited amount of features. They retain the one skin and never change their expression no matter what is going on. My character continued to smile like a moron despite the fact that he had arrows being shot at his head. Yeah it's cute and all, but it certainly takes away from some of the "dramatic" moments of the game. Enemies and NPCs are equally unimpressive.
Have you ever played a game where all of the characters grunt and grumble but never really talk? In game each critter that you come across will belch out incoherent gibberish that gets old in no time. During some short cut scenes there is some dialogue, but to be fair it's poorly written and acted with equal quality. The sound effects are cute enough and the music is decent for this style of game.
If you're a fan of Neopets then you'll probably appreciate this game more than I was able to. I approached it purely based upon its gameplay merits and found that it was a decent, yet flawed experience. The gameplay was repetitive, linear, and simplistic. The graphics were a mixed bag with environments being decent yet character models lacking. The audio faired the worst of the bunch with irritating grunts and terrible voice acting.
Even so The Wand of Wishing is actually enjoyable if you overlook the negative points. There is some depth to tinker with, a mediocre challenge, and the adventure does last a while. It's a cute alternative to games like Untold Legends if you're looking for an action/RPG on the go. Just don't expect the game to be anything more than average.