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Game Reviewed: Neopets
Publisher: Neopets Inc., Viacom Inc.
Developer: Neopets, Inc.
Category: Fantasy, Digital pet
ESRB Rating: None
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Remember those virtual pets you could stick on your keychain? If you are a teenager, you might remember having one. If you are a parent, you might remember having bought a few of them for your children. Whatever the case may be, the demand for virtual pets has apparently failed to age in terms interest. Neopets is a living declaration of that.
Neopets does not contain merely virtual pets; rather, it is a virtual world. Once you create your pet, you can then explore the world of Neopia. There are various shops, games, quests, and battles to explore and participate in. Games earn you points, which you can then use to buy equipment, food, and other trinkets in the world. There are many different areas in Neopia, and all offer something different in terms of game-play and various game options.
There are hundreds of mini-games on Neopets. While all of the games I played were similar in content, this review does not cover every mini-game.
What Parents Need to Know
Some of the games involve a small bit of violence, but nothing graphic. The arcade style mini-games are reminiscent of the classic arcade games of the 80’s, and the violence follows accordingly. Small explosions are about as graphic as it gets. Think Space Invaders, enemies usually disappear in a puff of smoke.
In the Battledome, you can challenge other pets to a duel. It does not depict violence; it is merely an RPG style of fighting. You choose the action you wish your pet to take on the next turn (attack, defend, etc.) and text reveals whether or not the action did any damage.
Your Neopet can become hungry and sick. If neglected for too long, it will begin to starve, and then die. This is not visually depicted, and is seen only through text.
Given the target audience, some images of the baddies in the game might have the potential to frighten very young children who play it.
There is no foul language in Neopets.
In the Battledome, it is possible to chat with other players via a typed conversation. While it would be possible to encounter foul language in this area, the website made it exceedingly clear that any language of that sort would be punished by freezing the offending account.
None, except for a fairy whose outfit shows off her midriff.
A mini-game called MAGAX takes place in a graveyard.
There are a few shops and areas of the map that contain names such as Magical Marvels and Haunted Marketplace. The Haunted Woods is designed around its name, and contains a graveyard and skulls. It is not designed to be frightening, it is rather cartoonish.
A mini-game is titled Sorcerers' Skirmish. It is basically a game very similar to checkers but with swords, staffs, wizards hats, and so on. The attacks just show a bright flash of light, which was the extent of the "magic" in this particular mini-game.
A part of the map is the “mystical” land of Shenkuu. While very benign, the environment and some mini-games indicate a slight hint of Eastern mysticism.
A mini-game is titled Barf Boat, and depicts a Neopet captain, well, barfing.
Some of the games involve gambling. There is no real money involved, and gambling consists of Neopoints, the currency of the game. It comes in the form of placing bets on a race, a roulette wheel, playing card games, etc.
The website has a large base for consumerism as there are games and ads devoted to various products and websites. It is nothing inappropriate, but many products (such as food and colleges) appear to have been pushed throughout the website.
Neopets is an interesting web-browser game. Given its understood target audience of 5-10 year old children, it was rather large and had a lot to offer. There were literally hundreds of mini-games, dozens of shops, and quite a bit to explore. The age of the target audience should be kept in mind, as most of the games are designed for that younger age range. In my personal opinion Neopets is a great game for kids. It keeps its target audience in mind and does a good job of keeping it clean and fun. I would be absolutely comfortable recommending this to parents with younger kids. My 8 year old brother saw me reviewing it, wanted his own account, and now loves it.