Originally created back in 1999, Neopets became a pretty big internet craze in the early 2000s. I remember using the site for a few years until I eventually got bored of it. Neopets is not nearly as popular as it once was but it is still around to this day. Like all fads Neopets obviously had to branch out into merchandising which lead to a lot of stuffed animals and other things like today’s board game Neopets Adventures in Neopia. I can’t say I had high expectations for the game as tie-in board games are rarely good but I had a little hope as the idea of a collection of mini games was intriguing. Neopets Adventures in Neopia has some good ideas but not enough to sustain the game for anyone other than younger children and Neopet fans.
How to Play Neopets Adventures in Neopia
- Each player chooses a pawn and places it on the corresponding start space.
- Bruce – Snowball
- Aisha – Scarab
- Krawk – Boat
- Kougra – Coconut
- Draik – Shield and Sword
- Usul – Wings
- Shuffle the ticket cards and deal five to each player. The rest of the ticket cards form a draw pile.
- Shuffle the fruit machine and random event cards and create two draw piles.
- Place the buried treasure tokens face down in the buried treasure box. Place the NeoPoints tokens in the coin box.
- Set the pieces needed for the mini games to the side of the gameboard.
- The youngest player will start the game.
Playing the Game
A player begins their turn by rolling the yellow die. The player can move their pawn up to the number rolled including staying on their current space. A player can only land on the Money Tree space by exact count though. Players can move their pawn in any direction but they can’t move through the same space twice on the same turn. Players can land on or move through spaces occupied by other players.
After a player has stopped moving they will take an action based on the space they landed on:
- Blank or Start Space: The player does not get a special action.
- Star Space: The player draws the top random event card.
- Mini-Action Space: When a player lands on a mini-game space they have the opportunity to play the corresponding mini-game. See below for more details on how to play the mini-games.
- Money Tree Space: If a player lands on the money tree by exact count, they will take all of the money currently on the space. You cannot stay on the Money Tree space on your next turn to collect any money that is added.
After taking their action the player will draw ticket cards until they have five in their hand (unless the player has a card that increases or decreases this total). Play then passes to the next player clockwise.
When a player lands on a mini-game space, they have the opportunity to play the mini-game if they have the corresponding ticket card or a wild card. All of the other players then have the opportunity to play the game as well if they play the corresponding ticket or wild card. The player then moves their pawn to the mini-game space. The various mini-games are played as follows:
Wheel of Excitement
The player who landed on the space gets to spin the wheel. All of the players playing will receive a reward based on what was spun.
- Number: The players will receive NeoPoints equal to the number spun.
- Nothing: The players receive nothing.
- Aisha Thieves: The current player rolls the NeoPoints die (black) and all of the players receive the corresponding number of NeoPoints.
- Ghost: The current player rolls the NeoPoints die. The players will donate the corresponding number of NeoPoints to the Money Tree space.
The current player rolls the NeoPoints die. All of the players in the game will receive the corresponding number of NeoPoints from the coin box.
The current player will chose one of the face down tiles in the Buried Treasure box. All of the players will receive the corresponding number of NeoPoints from the coin box.
Place the Bullseye target inside the bottom half of the box. The current player places the launcher as far from the target as they would like. Place the arrow on the stand and place it on the launcher.
The player hits the front of the launcher which launchers the arrow into the air. The highest valued ring that the arrow or stand touches is the points that are scored. The player can either take the NeoPoints they earned or they can launch the arrow up to two more times. If the player launches the arrow again, they lose the points they scored on their last shot.
Shuffle the Fruit Machine cards. The current player draws the top three cards from the pile and lays them next to one another on the table. The players will score NeoPoints if the player drew a winning combination. For reference the symbols used in the game are Bagguss (green), Tchea Fruit (blue and orange/yellow fruit), Cheops Plant (red plant), and Puntec Fruit (orange fruit). The winning combinations are as follows:
- 2 Tchea Fruits – 200 NeoPoints
- 2 Puntec Fruit – 300 NeoPoints
- 2 Cheops Plants – 500 NeoPoints
- 2 Bagguss – 600 NeoPoints
- 3 Tchea Fruits – 700 NeoPoints
- 3 Cheops Plants – 1,500 NeoPoints
- 3 Puntec Fruits – 1,000 NeoPoints
- 3 Bagguss – 2,000 NeoPoints
Grundo Snow Throw
Lay out the Grundo Snow Throw gameboard and place the two Grundo pawns on one end and the snowball on the other end.
The current player flicks the snowball trying to hit over the Grundo pawns. The players will receive 500 NeoPoints for each Grundo that is knocked over.
Layout the Poogle Racetrack and place each Poogle pawn on the corresponding start space. Before the race begins each player puts their pawn behind the Poogle they think will win the race. The red Poogle can win 500 NeoPoints, the blue Poogle 1,000 NeoPoints, and the green Poogle 2,000 NeoPoints. More than one player can choose the same Poogle.
The current player then rolls all three Poogle dice at the same time. The Poogles are moved spaces equal to the number rolled on their dice. The red Poogle is moved first, followed by the blue and then the green Poogle.
The first Poogle to cross the finish line wins the race. The players who picked the right Poogle win the corresponding prize for the Poogle they picked.
Random Event Cards
When a player draws a random event card, they will get one of three different types of cards.
- Play Now: The player has to play the card immediately for its effect. Once played the card is added to the discard pile.
- Play Once: When the player draws the card they place it face up in front of them. They can then play the card on any future turn. Once the card is played it is discarded.
- Permanent: A permanent card is placed face up in front of the player who draws it. The player will get to keep this card for the rest of the game unless another player plays a card that takes it away from them.
Winning the Game
The first player to acquire 5,000 or more NeoPoints wins the game.
My Thoughts Neopets Adventures in Neopia
For those of you not familiar with Neopets it is a website where you can take care of virtual pets thus the name Neopets. A large component of the website was the collection of mini games that you could play that would earn you NeoPoints which you could then use to purchase items for your Neopets. The mini games were the driving force behind the website in my opinion. Thus it was not a surprise to me that when Neopets made a board game they decided to make it a game that consisted of a bunch of mini games.
In total the game includes seven mini games from the website which includes: the Wheel of Excitement, Tombola, Buried Treasure, Ultimate Bullseye, Fruit Machine, Grundo Snow Throw, and Poogle Races. I haven’t played Neopets in quite a few years but from what I can remember, the mini games in Neopets Adventures in Neopia actually do a pretty good job representing the corresponding games from the website. That is to be expected though as the board game choose the games that would be the easiest to implement in a board game setting. You can tell that the game avoided the more complex mini games that would have been hard to implement outside of a video game.
While you can tell that the game is made for children, I have to give the game some credit as it actually looks like some real effort was put into the game. The designers understood what Neopets was and tried to do their best turning it into a board game that would do the website justice. The idea of adding the mini games to a standard roll and move game was actually pretty smart. If I were designing a Neopets board game I would use the exact same premise that the designers chose. I think Neopets fans will appreciate the effort put into the game.
The problem with Neopets Adventures in Neopia is that the mini games are just not that interesting. I attribute this to the games that were chosen to be added to the game and the limitations of what mini games you can create for a board game. The problem is that a large majority of the mini games rely entirely on luck. You either spin a spinner, roll a dice, randomly draw a tile or draw three cards. There is no skill in any of these games which leads to them becoming boring quickly.
Even the games that do require some skill are not all that interesting. I give the Poogle Races some credit as it does give you an interesting decision on what Poogle to pick before the race starts. You can either pick a Poogle that is more likely to win or a Poogle that will earn you more money. After you pick a Poogle the race is pretty boring as you just roll dice. The Grundo Snow Throw is decent but good luck ever knocking over more than one Grundo at a time. Finally the Ultimate Bullseye could have been interesting if the launcher worked better. The problem is that it doesn’t shoot the arrow very far so you have to place the launcher very close to the target. This kind of takes the skill and excitement away from the game as you can usually get the arrow pretty close to the center of the target.
In addition to the mini games not being all that fun, they were not all created equal. It is considerably easier to score more NeoPoints in some games than others. There will be games that players prefer playing over others as they will earn them more NeoPoints. With some mini games being more valuable than others, it really benefits the players that are able to play those mini game more often. While it is unlikely, you could theoretically win the entire game with one spin of the Wheel of Excitement.
I think the mini games could have been better but I think the biggest problem with the game comes from the ticket cards themselves. I don’t mind the fact that you need to have the corresponding ticket card to play a mini game. The problem is that whenever a player starts a mini game, all of the other players can jump right in and reap all of the benefits as well just by playing a card. I am guessing that this was added for two reasons. It was probably added in order to promote cooperation between the players. The other reason was to make the game play quicker. I can understand the reasoning behind the decision but I don’t agree with it.
The fact that players can join in on other player’s mini games almost completely ruins the game. This is a huge problem with the game for a couple reasons. First it just feels like the other players are piggybacking on your success. While most of the games rely entirely on luck, for the few games that require skill you could do a good job that ultimately helps out the other players as well. With players piggybacking on your success it is really hard to actually get any separation from the other players. All of the players are likely going to be within a couple hundred NeoPoints of each other since when you succeed they will succeed as well.
The biggest problem with this mechanic is that it basically rewards whichever player is able to draw the right ticket cards at the right times. Basically the strategy in Neopets Adventures in Neopia is to be involved in as many of the mini games as possible. Whenever someone is playing a game and you have the corresponding ticket card, you should probably play it. You will most likely earn some NeoPoints and more importantly not lose any ground to the other players. Unless a player gets really lucky in a mini game that they end up playing by themselves, the player who is able to be involved in the most mini games is likely going to win the game. Thus whoever draws the most cards from the games that the other players end up playing has a huge advantage in the game.
The luck doesn’t just end with the ticket cards as the random event cards add a lot of luck as well. I don’t mind the idea of the cards as they add a little randomness to the game. The problem that I have with the random event cards is the fact that they are far from balanced. Some cards make you give money to the Money Tree while others can give you a pretty big permanent advantage in the game. By far the best cards are the permanent cards as they give you an advantage for the rest of the game unless someone steals it from you. These permanent cards can give you a pretty big advantage as most give you a significant advantage in a mini game that will help you score more NeoPoints from that game.
In some ways I like Neopets Adventures in Neopia’s components and in other ways I think they could have been better. On the positive side I give the game credit as it actually has quite a few components due to all of the mini games. I was actually surprised by how much room they took up on the table though. If you don’t want to be constantly moving components out of the way, you should be prepared to play the game on a pretty big table. The artwork used by the board game is reminiscent of the website which should please fans. While the game has a lot of components and the artwork is pretty good, the component quality could have been better. Almost all of the components are made of cardboard with some of the components feeling kind of cheap. Basically the components serve their purpose but don’t do much else.
Should You Buy Neopets Adventures in Neopia?
Despite actually have some promise, at the end of the day Neopets Adventures in Neopia is pretty much what you would expect it to be. The game is made for kids and fans of the website. The designers deserve some credit for coming up with a good base for a Neopets board game. The idea of combining a roll and move game with a collection of mini games is creative and actually works well with the theme. The problem is that the mini games aren’t really that fun. Most rely entirely on luck and the few that don’t get boring pretty quickly. On top of that the outcome of the mini games don’t really matter as most of the time you will have at least one player piggybacking on your success. The game for some reason allows players to join in the success of any game as long as they have the corresponding card. This basically leads to the outcome of the game coming down to which player is able to take advantage of the most games played by other players.
I actually liked the premise behind the game but there is not enough substance behind it to really keep adults entertained. If you have younger children though or are a big fan of Neopets, you could do a lot worse. If either describes you and you can find the game for cheap, it may be worth picking up Neopets Adventures in Neopia.