E3 2008: Neopets Puzzle Adventure Hands-On

We take a closer look at what it's like to play a collection of addictive casual games that are sugarcoated with adorable virtual pets.

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If you haven't heard of Neopets by now, you should know that it's celebrating its 10th anniversary. This virtual-pet Web site is in 11 languages with 45 million users. Capcom has teamed up with Infinite Interactive to make the next Puzzle Quest, in this case, Neopets Puzzle Adventure. When you combine ultracute pets that people have grown to love with a game that is 100 years old, you get an addictive, colorful, family-friendly casual game.

Like in the game Reversi, also known as Othello, the goal in Neopets Puzzle Adventure is to have the most points, not necessarily the most pieces--even though that will help tremendously. For newcomers who may be confused about how to play the game, if you wait a few moments, the hint system will show you which moves you can make. The board in Neopets Puzzle Adventure can be in different shapes, and there are squares on the board that will give you bonus points. There is a story mode that you can go through in Neopia, but we ended up checking out the minigames that were included as well as the main gameplay.

In the PC version, you just click wherever you want to set your piece. If you have any special moves, you can activate them on the side. The gameplay is fairly simple, but it does take some thinking to master, like Bejeweled. If you happen to get bored of this main game, there are several minigames to keep you occupied. There are games like memory, where you try to match a pair of cards. You can play it on your own or against an opponent. There is one game that is exactly like minesweeper, and another game involves clearing out same-colored blocks that are connected by double-clicking them.

With its colorful and friendly nature, Neopets Puzzle Adventure should please gamers who enjoy short pick-up-and-play games. The visuals are inviting, and the gameplay is easy to learn. The game also has a fan base of 45 million that it hopes to lure in with this package. Neopets is set to be released later this year on the PC, DS, and Wii.

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