Neopets: Letters and Legends will not stop the extinction of the series


The beloved browser game Neopets is back with a new attempt on mobile, this time inspired by smartphone hits Puzzle and Words with friends. In his new game, Legends and Letters, Neopets revives old characters from 2005 and older in a play on words combining tradition and vocabulary construction.

Neopets is dying of a slow death during the last decade. The game had a rough history: the original creators sold the game to Viacom in 2005, then to JumpStart in 2014. This resulted in massive turnover and a radical restructuring of the people who make up the team. development. Only two members of the JumpStart team have been working for Neopets for more than ten years, that is, during the acquisition of Viacom, but they were not present during the genesis. Employees who have become well known to players as pillars of the community, such as creative director Snarkie; Droplet, who managed the site log; and the creators Adam Powell and Donna Williams resigned or were fired.

Despite all this inner turmoil, Neopets still has a beloved cult. There are fans who use the JavaScript and Flash site since 1999. There is literally a dead minigame graveyard, Neopets has had to retire over the years, with many favorites because the technology has exceeded personal preferences.

The number of members on the site continues to decline and JumpStart's efforts for customizations and items that cost real money have never really taken off. That's why, despite the loyalty of its fans, the parent company of Neopets, JumpStart, known for its educational games for the youngest children, hopes to reach a whole new audience with Legends and Letters. "It's not a cross between website and mobile. That would have pleased Neopets fans, but we want a standalone mobile game, "says Stephanie Lord, product manager at JumpStart.

Neopets is the game that has taught many girls to code. It's also the game in which I caught a girl in my college dorm playing and I logged in instantly. It helped me save friendships, create new ones, and even publish some news. Overall, many things depend on Legends and Letters. "Legends and Letters is our way to rotate in 2019, "said Lord.

The game is one of the few companies in the company to use mobile and its previous attempt was not as satisfying. Catch ghouls, released in 2015 on iOS and Android, looks a lot like candy Crush except that the combinations are not intuitive, they do not load when you are offline and there is no clear way around the paywall. Catch ghouls is filled with low ratings from people who initially liked the game and became hooked, but ran into an annoying paywall that they could not overcome. A mobile version of the Neopets website is still in development.

Captions and letters The tutorial opens on a crocodile-like Neopet, a Krawk, that tells you a story and describes one of his friends as a deadly enemy. He also says he's going to get a magic tablet. You decide, for whatever reason, to help it. When you help the Krawk, you both release an evil spirit called Claymaker, who claims to have made all the Neopets himself and decided to curse them.

After the tutorial, you can name your character and customize his appearance. You can choose between a number of Neopets, including the latest creation, Vandagyre, which was introduced in 2014. I chose to produce the Xweetok, similar to a squirrel; In the end, each Neopet has a special skill, and the Xweetok must heal himself by licking his wounds.

Then, you are sent back into the game, where you will have to fight enemies with spells created by the words you chained. In the fiction of the game, there is no clear stakes for these battles. No context or introduction to the world of Neopia is given to you. There are not even clearly defined characters, but one way or another, you'll find yourself fighting the Neopets pirate soon.

Beyond the scenario, the mechanics of the game is also questioned. You must drag and drop letters to create words, and you must also string them together. A current bug will sometimes cause valid invalid words to appear, either because they are too short, or because the game seems to read them the wrong way. Your only real choice in these cases is trial and error until the game accepts your word as valid. Even worse, the tutorial does not teach you important tips that make the game much easier.

I could see myself continuing to play this game, but only if I was stuck in the subway, without Wi-Fi or otherwise stuck. Unfortunately, this game needs Wi-Fi to work, unlike other mobile games like Candy Crush Saga. And if you leave the game in the background in the middle of a level, and then come back several hours later, your progress may not be saved.

JumpStart also allows you to connect with other people playing the game, but it does a mediocre job to create a community. You are automatically invited to add other players to your battles, but the other players do not fight at your side, you simply take their Neopets. Then, the game asks you if you want to send a friend to the player, which seems to give rise to many requests from incoming friends from bots once the game is launched.

With Letter captionsJumpStart also does not seem to know who his audience is. If its goal is to reach a wider audience, why focus on the traditions and nostalgia of Neopets? Longtime fans, meanwhile, can connect the mobile game to their account and if they are promised a free background image for their pets on the site if they do. JumpStart said that Neopets fans would not win Neopoints via mobile gaming. "This is an important decision we made internally," says Lord. "The first thing to do is that it's for everyone, not just for the fan base of Neopets. It's not a cross. Neopets fans would have loved that, but we wanted a standalone mobile game because we're spinning until 2019. "

Sadly, Legends and Letters is just a little too much like his predecessor, Catch ghouls. Neither one nor the other mobile game really connects with what makes Neopets fun and meaningful. JumpStart found that it was the social element that continued to draw users into the game and was partially correct. It's also nostalgia and creative content – creators who are on the same page as their audience. Neopets has a lot of fun knowledge, whimsical writing and a community of artists, none of which is really showcased in these mobile games. The plot of Legends and Letters fall flat and recycle old characters without thinking about how they should make sense together. Neopia's map on the home screen of the app is a good start – with a nod to the global edifice developed by of yesteryear – but the rest of the game could do more.

Nevertheless, JumpStart promises to add more features down the line. "We understand that one of the fundamental mechanisms of Neopets is the social element … the community that is there and the solace found in the game … so we have bigger plans and best to integrate it, "said Taylor Lord, director of community development and web, who is also Stephanie's sister. Stephanie adds, "In addition to the loyal user base, we are also trying to recover users who used to play Neopets and who remember playing it as a kid." Legends and Letters already vastly improved between the few months I was in beta testing and today's launch, which is a promising sign that JumpStart is open to player feedback.

Neopets really needs a good game to make it more relevant. There are still many fans who are obsessed with the world. Mention it to the old players and more probably still, they are willing to return to the game, even if it is a brief moment. If JumpStart had something new to offer the community, it would be welcomed with open arms, as evidenced by the hype that surrounds it. Legends and Letters at San Diego Comic-Con this year. But, in its current form, this mobile game does not seem to be.

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