The popular Neopets browser game is back with a new attempt on the phone, this time inspired by smartphone hits Puzzle & Dragons and Words with Friends . In his new play, Legends and Letters Neopet's animated old characters from 2005 and earlier in a word game that combines knowledge with vocabulary.
Neopets have died from a slow death in the last decade. The game has a rough story: The original creators sold it in 2005 to Viacom, which was then sold to JumpStart in 2014. The result was tremendous revenue and a radical reorganization of the development team of the game. Only two members of the JumpStart team have been with Neopets for over ten years, which means that they were present during the acquisition of Viacom, but not during Genesis. Employees who have become known to gamers as community games, such as Creative Director Snarkie; Droplet, who has managed the newspaper of the website; and the creators Adam Powell and Donna Williams, who were either abandoned or dismissed.
Membership on the site continues to decline, and JumpStart's efforts to make adjustments and articles that cost real money are never in full swing. That's why Neopets parent JumpStart, known for its educational games for younger children, hopes to reach a whole new audience with Legends and Letters, despite all its fans. "There is no transition between website and mobile. Fans of Neopets would have loved that, but we want a stand-alone mobile game, "says Stephanie Lord, Product Manager at JumpStart.
Neopets is the game that taught many young girls how to code. It's also the game that I caught a girl in my dorm playing and connected instantly. It helped me to save friendships, make new ones and even publish a few short stories. There is a lot going on in Legends and Letters . " Legends and Letters is our way to 2019," says Lord.
The game is one of the company's few things to do in Mobile, and his earlier attempt was not so good. Ghoul Catchers, released in 2015 for iOS and Android, is similar to Candy Crush except that the combos are not intuitive and will not load when they're offline. and there is no clear way to overcome the paywall. Ghoul Catcher's is filled with low ratings from people who initially liked the game and became addicted just to find an annoying paywall they could not overcome. A mobile version of the Neopets website is still under development.
The tutorial "Legends and Letters" opens with a crocodile-like Neopet named Krawk telling you a story and painting one of his friends as a nemesis. He also says he's looking for a magic tablet to steal. They choose to help him for some reason. While you're helping the Krawk, both of you inadvertently release an evil spirit called Claymaker, who claims to have made all the Neopets yourself, and decides to curse them.
Following the tutorial, you can give your character a name and customize its appearance. You can choose between a number of different Neopets, including the latest creation, Vandagyre, launched in 2014. I chose the squirrel-like Xweetok; As it turns out, every Neopet has a special ability, and the Xweetok is supposed to heal itself by licking its wounds.
Then you'll be sent back to the gameplay where you have to fend off enemies with spells the words that chain you together. In the fiction of the game, there are no clear bets for these battles. They receive no context and no introduction to the world of Neopia. There are not even clearly defined characters, but in one way or another you soon fight pirate neopets.
Apart from the plot, the actual game mechanisms are in doubt. You must drag and drop letters to create words, and you must chain these words together. In a current error, valid words are sometimes marked as invalid, either because they are too short or the game seems to read them from the wrong direction. 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 any important tricks that make the game much easier.
I could imagine continuing to play this game, but only if I got stuck in the subway without Wi-Fi or was otherwise stranded. Unfortunately, this game requires Wi-Fi, unlike other mobile games like Candy Crush Saga . If you leave the game in the middle of a level in the background and then return hours later, the progress may not be saved.
JumpStart also lets you connect with other players who play the game, but it does a hell of a job building a community. You are automatically asked to add other players to your battles, but the other players do not really fight with you – they only take their neopets with them. Then the game asks if you want to make friends with the player. This seems to lead to many incoming friend requests from bots once the game is live.
With Legends of Letter JumpStart also seems to be confused as to who his audience is. When it comes to a more general audience, why is there such a big focus on Neopet's knowledge and nostalgia? Longtime fans can now connect the mobile game to their Neopets.com accounts and get a free wallpaper for their pets on the site when they do so. JumpStart says Neopets fans would not earn Neopoints through the mobile game. "That was a big decision we made internally," says Lord. "Number one is for everyone, not just the Neopets fans. It is not a crossover. Fans of Neopets would have loved that, but we wanted a standalone mobile game as we move until 2019. "
Unfortunately, Legends and Letters is a bit too similar to its predecessor. Ghoul Catchers . None of the mobile games really connect with what makes Neopets funny and meaningful. JumpStart has recognized that it is the social element that continues to pull users back into the game, and that it is partially correct. It's also the nostalgia and the creative content – the creators who are on the same page as their target audience. Neopets has a lot of fun, whimsical writing and a community of artists, none of which is really presented in these mobile games. The plot of Legends and Letters falls flat and recycles old characters without thinking about how they should make sense together. The map of Neopia on the app's home screen is a good start – with a nod to the elaborate, world-building world that Neopets.com once had – but the rest of the game could do even more.
Still, JumpStart promises to add more features across the board. "We understand that a core mechanism of Neopets is the social element … the community people found in it and the comfort they have in the game … so we have bigger and better plans to integrate this" says Taylor Lord, director of community and web development, which is also Stephanie's sister. Stephanie adds, "In addition to the loyal user base, we also try to get back the users who used to play Neopets and who remember how they played as a child." Legends and Letters has already improved dramatically In the few months that I've completed beta testing, the launch today is a promising sign that JumpStart is open to feedback from players.
Neopets need a good game to become relevant again. There are still many fans obsessed with the world. Mention it to ex-players, and most likely they are ready to revisit the game, even if it only takes a short time. If JumpStart offered something new to the community, it would be greeted with open arms, as evidenced by the hype surrounding Legends and Letters at the San Diego Comic-Con this year. In its current form, this mobile game does not seem to be.