What do you get when you cross Neopets and Puzzle Quest? You get a lot of people who have devoted their lives to avoiding the weird virtual pet website to begrudgingly pledge to play a Neopets game, that's what.
Capcom and Infinite Interactive are teaming up to deliver Neopets Puzzle Adventure, a game that combines the, ahem, “stickiest site on the web” with the RPG/puzzle trappings of everyone’s favorite RPG/puzzle game, Puzzle Quest. That means instead of creating a warrior, you’ll be selecting a Schmoonie. You’ll choose both the gender and color for your Neopet, which can be one of 12 varieties. The gender and color choice has an impact on your starting stats, so a female is faster than the male version, purple Neopets may get a strength bonus, and so on. You’ll also be able to equip items, like a sword or “chili chucks,” which are nunchucks made out of chili peppers. The items have abilities in combat and appear to perform as a spell that doesn’t require you to have any mana.
The spells of Puzzle Quest have been replaced by petpets, which are the creatures that your Neopets keep… as pets. Apparently in the world of Neopets, even Neopets’ petpets can have pets, which are called petpetpets, naturally. Upon learning this, my head started pounding and I had to sit down and slam a nice, stiff drink before continuing. If you need to do the same now, don’t worry. I’ll wait for you to get back.
OK, better? Let’s continue. Petpets are the game’s spells, and can have a variety of effects. There will be 150 of them in the game, and you can take five of them into battle. The battles function much like they do in Puzzle Quest, with one major difference. Instead of playing Bejeweled, you’re playing Othello, or Reversi, if you want to keep things brand-free. So you take turns with your opponent, slapping tokens on the board to claim spaces. The petpets can help you gain an advantage, but you’ll need to collect colored spaces on the board to power their attacks, much like the different gems in Puzzle Quest give you mana of different colors.
From there, the rest of the game’s systems can be described as “it’s like it was in Puzzle Quest, except X,” where X is a different minigame or slightly altered process from the original game. It has a big overworld map, it has quests, you can train your petpets to attack more efficiently, and you can combine items to forge new, better items. It’s straightforward, and it also looks like it’s pretty awesome.
Neopets Puzzle Adventure is currently slated to hit the PC, Wii, and DS. The Wii will have local multiplayer, while the PC and DS will let you battle online. The game will also tie into the Neopets website, so if you’re a fiend for those Neopets, you can earn codes in these games that will unlock exclusive gear.
This whole thing freaks me out. I know I want to play it, but what if I get sucked into the frightening, Nickelodeon-owned world of Neopets in the process? It’s like Capcom came out and said “we’re merging Scientology with Puzzle Quest.” I know I want to play, but is the possibility of total brainwashing worth the risk?