Neopets: The Darkest Faerie Hands-On
The Neopets.com Internet craze is heading to the PS2 in the form of a kid-friendly action adventure title. We gave it a spin, and we have the details here.
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The first thing you need to know about Neopets is that it's insanely popular. Neopets.com originally launched as a virtual pet site on the Internet back in 1999, and has since become a certifiable craze: About 30 million people worldwide are visiting and playing around on the site, the majority of whom are female and many of whom are kids. Neopets can loosely be likened to Pokémon, down to its anime-inspired art style and its focus on cute creatures beating each other up. However, Neopets has its own unique twists, such as the fact that it originated as an online service. But now, Neopets is coming to a video game system near you--specifically, the PlayStation 2 and the PSP. Sony recently took the wraps off of its Neopets plans, and gave us the opportunity to get some hands-on time with the PS2 version in particular.
The PS2 game is entitled Neopets: The Darkest Faerie, and it will feature the adventures of one Tormund (aka Tor, and of no relation to GameSpot news editor Tor Thorsen) and his companion, Roberta. Tor is a wolflike knight, decked out in medieval garb and armed with a trusty sword and shield. Roberta is a genielike purple-tinted sorceress, replete with antennae sprouting out of her head. The two characters will each have their own unique moves and abilities, and in the build we played, we were able to magically switch between the two characters at any time with the push of a button. The story revolves around the Darkest Faerie, a creature who's been imprisoned underwater for a millennium, and who intends to exact vengeance on the world of Neopia now that she's free. The game has all the trappings of a 3D action adventure, including some light role-playing elements, big environments to run around in, plenty of fighting against nasty creatures, and some basic platforming for good measure.
Sony promises that the game will feature large, seamless environments, and sure enough, what we saw and played of the game seemed to corroborate this. Overall, Neopets for the PS2 has a look and feel that's reminiscent of the Ratchet & Clank series, though the visuals are probably closer to the Sly Cooper titles. What remains to be seen, of course, is if it can match those games in terms of overall quality. What we played felt pretty premature, so while we can confirm that the basic mechanics work, we didn't necessarily come away with a strong impression of how the final product might finally turn out. Still, The Darkest Faerie certainly seems to have Neopets' charming style, so Neopets fans should be on the lookout. However, for what it's worth, Sony stated that its goal with the game isn't just to appease Neopets fans. The intent is to make this a solid 3D action adventure that anyone who enjoys similar games would like.
Neopets for the PS2 is slated for release late this summer. It will feature about 60 different regions to explore, a dozen bosses to battle, and even some Petpets to take care of. What are Petpets, you ask? Why, they're Neopets'...pets.
This brings us to the PSP title, lengthily named Neopets Petpet Adventure: The Wand of Wishing. We didn't actually get to see anything on the game, but we know that it'll focus on an adventure in which two neopets discover Petpet World...a place in which your standard-issue Neopets don't dwell. This will be an isometric third-person-perspective game with four different playable characters, a multiplayer ad hoc battle dome mode, and more. We'll have a chance to see this one at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, and it's currently scheduled for release in the winter.