My first introduction to Neopets came last May when I attended the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo. It was while checking into my motel that I ran across one of the people instrumental in the development of the original PC game, something I had not heard of at that time. He explained that it was an extremely popular virtual pet simulator that was used by millions of people every day. For months I didn't think about it, figuring I probably wouldn't hear about it again. But recently Neopets Petpet Adventures: The Wand of Wishing, the new PSP adventure game, showed up and forced me to think about what I had learned about the series from my short elevator ride from a year ago.
When I saw that I was reviewing game I wondered what it could be. Based on what I learned from the developer of the computer version I expected this PSP game to be a cute virtual pet simulator, something along the lines of Nintendo's Nintendogs or those Tamagotchi's from a few years ago. But that's not what I got out of The Wand of Wishes. This is no virtual pet simulator. Instead this PSP Neopets game is your basic dungeon hack with some of the cutest characters you ever will see.
At first I was confused; I have never seen a hack-and-slash adventure game that looked this cute and adorable. This game takes out all of those angry looking ogres, trolls and goblins, and replaces them with furry creatures that will appeal to the youngest PSP owners. But don't be fooled by the cute visuals, The Wand of Wishing attempts to be a serious adventure game in the same vein as Untold Legends. But while this game feels like it's aimed at kids, I'm not sure the youngest set is really going to have that much fun with this Neopets outing.
You don't need to know much about the Neopets going in, since this game and its story are both self-contained. Pretty much everything you need to know is explained up front, and the rest is done through drawn out dialog sequences that are sure to bore the young and old alike. The game begins with one of the Neopets throwing her pet (er, Petpet) and the Wand of Wishing through a dimensional portal. This portal leads to Petaria, a generic fantasy world you'll grow tired of the moment you arrive.
You get to choose one of four pets, each with a slightly different (but always cute) look and different attributes. Not that the different attributes mean much, it won't take long before you have a chance to mold your pet into the type of fighter you want to play with. It's your job to jump into this new world and do everything you can to get that Wand of Wishing back so you can return and reunite with your Neopet owner. You do this by going through entirely too many confusing dungeons and fighting a copious amount of furry enemies. This game is not what I would consider especially innovative, but that's hardly the only problem with this Neopets adventure.
Along the way you'll meet friendly faces that want you to help them out by completing their easy quests, ultimately taking you one step closer to finding that coveted wand. Thankfully you can keep multiple missions open at the same time, so, in theory, you can go about completing them as you see fit. This is a good idea that we see in a lot of games in this genre, but it's implemented here in a confusing manor that will only frustrate Neopet's younger players.
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