Reflections of a Modern Neopian
Usually, when you first get your account on Neopets, a big highlight is exploring the worlds of Neopia. Trying weird things, taking risks, buying potions, exotic foods, embarking on hopeless quests, all is good fun. I remember a long time ago, randomly clicking around the the map of Neopia and just goofing off. There were Poogle Races to be had, succulent fruits to buy, and contests to win. Armed with as many neopoints I could glean from those once challenging games, I would do all sorts of things, because of curiosity.
Most experienced users hardly ever visit the map. Using links and bookmarks, they ignore old stuff that they have already seen and done, going directly to the places they want to be, completely ignoring the timeless splendor of just getting lost. I realized this while organizing my terrifyingly huge list of bookmarks, and I wondered what had changed while I was busy doing this and that. Where have my old favorite games gone? Are they collecting dust in the Game Graveyard I visited so long ago? And did they ever make the fabled Jelly World real? How much have I missed, bundled in my perfect world of shortcuts? And so I drop all that I was doing and head for the map of Neopia.
A little red light goes off in my head. "Hey, this looks different," my brain squeaks. "Let's go somewhere!" My mouse wanders across the screen, knowing adventures lie at my fingertips.
Ugh, I can't decide! So I close my eyes and choose.
When they are reopened, I find myself in the Haunted Woods. I look at it closely and notice something odd. What is that doing there, I wonder. I click on what looks like a cluster of mobile homes; this seems familiar. As the page loads, I suddenly remember Neovia, and that little Usul with a name that makes me think of halibut and some type of bizarre fish. What was it, Willy? Billy? Filly? Oh, I remember! It was Gilly! I click on the button underneath the picture of a caravan that inquires if I would like to follow a creepy path past the edge of the camp. You bet I do!
Now this is cool. I have to admit, I have never been here. Upon reading the little blurb, it states this is Neovia. I want to explore so I click on the Crumpet Monger. That sounds promising, strange but promising.
Upon entering, I am greeted by a very cheery and welcoming shopkeeper, very contrasting to the rest of the doomed town, bathed in moonlight and fog. The Meerca madam states, "Fresh pastries! Get yer pastries while they're hot! No, I meant it... buy summat 'fore I eat it meself!" Noting her ample cheeks and well rounded body, I don't doubt she will. I buy a Cheese Scone because she'll probably explode if she eats any more.
Chesterdrawer's Antiques and the Neovian Printing Press have no stock, and so I enter Prigpants and Swolthy, Tailors. What an odd name. The Top Hat looks very dashing, so I purchase one from the very enthusiastic tailors, and, finding nothing else to do, return to the Haunted Woods.
One look at the garishly orange, pulsating Brain Tree and I decide then and there not to go on a quest. I spot what looks like a moldering Blumaroo plastered with band-aids and click on him. It turns out to be a game called Fetch. I select easy. But it's more daunting than it looks. Sixty-four clicks later I find my talents at this game are as brilliant and appealing as the Rotten Peachpas I was commanded to retrieve, or "fetch" if you must. Grumbling to myself, I return to the Haunted Woods. I scan the map for something REALLY interesting. Nestled away near a shrieking wraith of a tree by Edna's Tower, I see a lonely little Game Graveyard. Now this could be fun.
After clicking on the link, I am greeted by a melancholy cluster of creatively designed tombstones. The first one says Techo Says. I play it, and it seems familiar, like I just saw something like it in the modern games room this morning... After easily losing, I play Kau Korral. It's not very eye pleasing. If anything, the Gelert looks like a reddish parsnip with black licorice writhing around on it. I'm not impressed.
Ice Caves or Faerie Caves next? They both sound similar; which one should I choose? I opt for Faerie Caves and find it kinda dull and somewhat like Fyora's Quest. Neo DJ is horribly confusing, and to this day I cannot figure the purpose of its existence. When I am finished, I become perplexed by Scorchio's Quest I. The game says it is Scorchio's Adventure... not only that, but I can't even get out of the first room. Scorchio's Quest II is no better. I only make it to a strange man swathed in a cape before I am utterly confused. Returning to the earlier chamber, I am attacked by a green pant devil while large spikes of whimsical proportions are protruding from the walls like the fangs of a demented Grarrl. I get too close, and my poor Scorchio character freezes in his tracks as the spikes crush him for a split second. I can almost hear a yelp of pain as I close the window, deeply disturbed. I start to skip around a bit, and find a game: The Mutant Graveyard of Doom. Sounds very cheerful and heartwarming. *gags* Upon playing it, I find it isn't very frightening. I am actually tickled by it. The walking gravestones are a super wheeze. Next is Chomby and the Fungus Balls. Wow. What can I say. After playing you may suffer from nerve damage and brain ulcers, not to mention a very, very, frayed temper. The Ice Cream Factory has some pluses and some minuses. The dancing Chia is cute. And how the ice cream pops out of the cones, very nice. The sound effects are prodigious, but they are so persistent it is painful. And Grundo Snow Throw I won't dare comment on.
Leaving The Game Graveyard, I reflect, though, on the effort, no matter how crummy, that was made. I head for the Deserted Fairground, so I can have some fun. Or will I?
I spin the Wheel of Misfortune, and it lives up to its name. My Large Splime Smoothie is promptly reduced to a humble little pile of grayish black Sludge. Hooray. Upon playing Bagatelle, I have an urge to run away. I don't run and end up playing it. Yippee. I win 50 neopoints after paying 250. On closer inspection, the board appears to be tilting away from the jackpot... Curious, very curious... You'd think that suspicious looking Lupe would have enough money from all the Neopians he's ripped off to buy a better table.
The Spooky Food booth is crammed with tasteless oddities; you could hardly call it "food". Jellied eyeballs aren't exactly cuisine, well, at least to civilized people. You can never tell if the person selling it happens to have bat wings and glaring eyes.
Arnold at The Test Your Strength game seems harmless enough... sort of... I pay 100 neopoints, and I win the grand prize of... *drumroll*... 20 neopoints! Terrific. The Coconut Shy is no better. I try three times and miss them all. Say, doesn't the guy who runs the Coconut Shy have the same size eyeballs as those coconuts... *rolls up sleeves, grabs a ball* But instead I force myself to leave, before he gets a very nasty surprise....
As I gaze upon the Deserted Fairground, a chill sets over me. No, it wasn't the decaying screaming Chia clown roller coaster off in the distance that causes me to shiver, but the fact that I have ignored so much of Neopia. I have had an hour's worth of fun getting lost and spending neopoints. I could have, however, shut myself up in my Neohome, or gloated over my riches, bought every item in the NC mall, won every auction, gotten a trophy in every game, or made space for seven thousand items in my shop. Better yet, I could have had fun without becoming the richest billionaire in Neopia. Nowadays it seems all about money. More, MORE, I must have MORE, is the zombie-like mantra of modern day Neopia. But what's so bad about losing a little, reliving memories, and discovering new things? Isn't that what Neopets is really all about?
So I would, right this moment, stop worrying about Neodaq, guild layouts, and pet customisation.
Slow down, relax, and enjoy life in the present. Because I know that's what I'm going to do.