While Neopets Puzzle Adventures is an interesting take on the puzzle RPG genre, it pales in comparison to games like Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. Instead of winning being based on skill, it seems more like a matter of luck. On top of that, there are a number of various game issues that make Neopets Puzzle Adventure for the Wii difficult to play, look at and enjoy.
The game begins with a fairly generic story. You begin by choosing your Neopet’s species, gender and color. All three elements have a bearing on the avatar’s abilities. You then choose one of the preselected names for the character (you can’t enter your own), and set off on the adventure. Basically you’re a new and unknown wanderer, and you start venturing throughout the
I was frustrated by two things in Neopets Puzzle Adventure, and seriously troubled by another. The first frustration came with the Othello-esque match games. I was always under the impression in these games that the player with the most tokens on screen in his or her color was the winner. Apparently, not so in Neopets Puzzle Adventure, as my first time playing the first challenge I lost, even though there were more blue tokens (my color) than red. I won after three more attempts, because my score was higher.
This made playing the game a bit of a chore. Since chance plays such a large factor during the course of a puzzle, you never know how long it will take to pass a particular challenge. I kept tally of how many times I played the first three challenges/battles. It took me 13 tries to beat three situations. It’s disappointing.
When you add that to the fact that the Neopets portion of the game is likely going to lure in younger gamers, you have a recipe for disaster. I’d like to think that I have a longer attention span and more patience than a grade schooler. I was willing to repeat the first challenge five times, determined to beat the Blobagus. I don’t think a child’s going to be willing to make that kind of investment.
Plus, the puzzles are incredibly repetitive. Once you do get into the groove of the game and figure out a method/strategy that works for you, you can use it to win pretty much every battle in the game.
The second frustration was caused by the loading times. I understand that some titles will require loading before situations, levels or puzzles. I didn’t expect to see loading times before each game and battle that, while not being excessive, still could be annoying. The game is primarily filled with static images. The only items that move, nay flip, are the tokens during play.
I was incredibly troubled by the text in this game. I was playing Neopets Puzzle Adventures on a 12 inch TV from 2001. The text in the game looked blurred and jumbled together. The only time you’d actually be able to read and understand what was being said was during portions where your Neopet avatar was talking to an NPC. Otherwise, it would all seem to wash together.
To experiment, I moved my system and tried playing Neopets Puzzle Adventures on a 19 inch HDTV my friend purchased a few months ago. There was a very slight improvement, and the text was still incredibly difficult to read. If I tried and stood very close to the screen, I found I could read it, but doing so would hurt my eyes. A player shouldn’t have to take monitor size and the kind of tv they own into consideration when purchasing a game.
I have never, ever had this problem with any kind of game. I primarily play RPGs, notorious for their copious amounts of text and occasionally minuscule text, and have had no trouble reading dialogue, navigating menus or identifying items. Since Neopets Puzzle Adventure’s text was so cramped and uncomfortable to read, I abandoned reading and would just progress through the puzzles, ignoring the story. I doubt I missed much.
It is also perplexing that the Nintendo WiFi Connection wasn’t utilized in this title. After all, you’d think one of the selling points of the game is the multiplayer. I know that was a major highlight in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords was the ability to compete against other players. You would think Capcom would want to hype this aspect up, and allow players to compete against one another with characters they’ve developed in the story mode.
Capcom dropped the ball on Neopets Puzzle Adventures, at least, it did on the Wii version. It seems like it attempted to emulate Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlord’s basic game structure, and make it more friendly for casual and younger players. In doing so though, they created a game where winning, for the most part, feels like it is left up to chance. Plus, if you’re not playing it on a medium to large sized screen, the size and quality of the text starts to become an issue. When it comes down to it, Neopets Puzzle Adventure is a good idea in theory, but the Wii version fails in practice.
Images Courtesy of Capcom.