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Neopets

Millions adopt unreal pets, but have real fun

Millions adopt unreal pets, but have real fun

January 17, 2006|by NELL BARBER

Ever heard the phrase "A dog is man's best friend?" Well, don't be surprised, if you hear someone say, "A kougra is man's best friend" instead.

A kougra - which looks rather like an odd, caricatured version of a tiger or a cougar - is just one of the 52 species available for creation on Neopets.com, an online world for owners of fantastical animals.

Other species available for adoption include the aisha, which looks something like a cat with antennae, an ixi, which resembles a cross between a deer and a goat, and a cute bird-like creature, the pteri.

It's easy to create and personalize one of these rare animals. Just log on to Neopets and create an account. It's important to feed your pet, play with it and find the proper medicine for it when it's sick. But don't worry - a neopet can never die!

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I've been a player on Neopets.com for about three years. One of my favorite aspects of Neopets is the fact that it's basically a whole world, covering everything from housing and money to sickness and help for the needy.

Basically, the Web site allows players to create and care for a pet. A lot of first-time users make the mistake of making four pets (the maximum number) right off the bat. But that's a lot of work. Most new users can't take care of all their pets very well, and have to put pets up for adoption, something that is highly frowned upon in Neopia.

Another creature in Neopia are the faeries. They can be found in Fae rieland, and they are not available for creation. The faeries will give out quests to users at random. In these quests, you are asked to do something for the faerie in return for a reward.

The currency in the fantasy world Neopia is NeoPoints, and to collect these, you play the vast selection of games, or sell items in your own shop in Neopia. There are more than 1,000 items in Neopia you can purchase - from food and pet care supplies to furniture and smaller pets (petpets) for your neopets.

You can buy these items in shops in different regions of Neopia. For example, you might buy a slice of Poisonous Cake, or a Vampire JubJub Plushie in the Spooky Woods, or a Gerptiku PetPet on the tropical Mystery Island. Using NeoPoints, you can also play the mock stock market, or buy a plot of land, and build yourself a NeoHome that you can furnish and decorate. You can also put gardens around your NeoHome.

But be careful. None of these things come cheap in Neopia. Money management is as important in Neopia as it is in real life. If you are short on NeoPoints, you can't buy food for your neopet - but there's always the soup kitchen to help feed your pet.

Friends near and far



Neopets have become very popular, with more than 100 million players worldwide. It's a lot of work to keep the site up, with that many users. There are 110 staff members working around the clock in Los Angeles and another 20 in Singapore.

A lot of my friends are also involved in Neopets, like Lisa Barber, 15, of Frederick, Md.

"I like the games, and how you can make different cool pets," Lisa says. "And the random faerie quests are awesome."

You might think this is a site for little kids, but actually, the average age of players is 14, and 20 percent of all users are older than 18, according to an article on Wired.com.

You may also notice that some of the word spellings on the site aren't spelled the American way. That's because the founders are British, even though Neopets isn't based in Britain. And Neopets isn't just for English-speakers. Translators change the site to Dutch, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Spanish, two forms of Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Easy to begin



It costs nothing to log on and create a pet on the Neopets Web site. The basic service provides full use of the basic neopets features, such as shops, games, neomail, message boards, bank accounts, contests and a lot more.

For players who want more, there is Neopets Premium, something that costs $7.99 per month or $69.95 per year. This version isn't advertised on the site, because you have to be invited by another premium member to partake of this feature. You are allowed a 15-day free trial, and all premium members receive a bonus of as many as 1,000 NeoPoints a month. There are premium-only message boards, and beta versions of games, as well as many other special features.

There is also a Neopets Jr. version, for users younger than 8.

Neopia is basically a whole other world, and I encourage you to try it out. Just log on to www.Neopets.com, and adopt an animal.

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