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What's it about?
NEOPETS: LEGENDS & LETTERS is a freemium word game with adventure and role-playing elements. Players choose a main Neopet hero and join the fight against an evil entity called "The Claymaker," who wants to destroy the Neopets' world. Players progress through the story with a party of five Neopets by fighting a series of turn-based battles. Battles consist of Scrabble-like gameplay where players use a handful of letter tiles to form words on an open grid -- the longer the words are, and the more difficult the letters are to use, the more powerful the attacks become. Players can recruit single heroes from other players' collections and friend those players post-battle. Winning battles earns players experience, additional heroes, and different types of in-app currency. The latter is used to power up Neopets, and players can accelerate the power-up process by buying in-app currency with real-world cash.
Is it any good?
While this franchise was once big among tween girls, this release sadly illustrates the company's disconnect from its current audience. Neopets: Legends & Letters' first mistake is ignoring the uninitiated. People who weren't playing Neopets back in the day don't know the characters, their world, or their backstory, and the app doesn't do much to bring them up to speed. There's a brief mention of a bad guy named the Claymaker who's threatening the Neopets world. As a result, you're thrown in with some guy called Krawk and headed into battle with him. This raises the app's second mistake: not building on its core gameplay. Neopets is all about taking care of pets, and there's little of that here. While you can replenish your pets' battle energy with food and put clothes on them, the main idea is playing a Scrabble-like word game against the AI. This could work: match-3 apps succeed in adding combat by adding cool effects, power-ups, and changing board formations. Neopets attempts something similar but doesn't go beyond simple word formation and basic attacks, and over time things get monotonous. This gets even more pronounced when the difficulty rises, preventing you from progressing until your Neopets get significantly stronger.
When that happens, you have two options: spend hours replaying the same repetitive battles, or break down and buy the items you need. Neither is all that appealing, and the app's lackluster storyline and thin social networking aspect don't help matters much. You'd never know the app came from a franchise built on passionate fan community; the in-app friend list isn't good for anything, since you can't play with friends, and the app doesn't connect to your existing Neopets account, which is baffling. Done right, Neopets: Legends & Letters might well have slowed the decline of a once popular interactive fad; as it is, the mediocrity of the app is more likely to hasten it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how apps hide advertising inside of gameplay. Do your kids know how to spot ads when they're mixed into their favorite apps and games?
Do your kids understand the cost of jumping on and off game, app, and TV show bandwagons? Do you think games and shows are designed to get you interested in following all of these media trends to support various projects?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Pricing structure: Free (Contains optional in-app purchases.)
- Release date: February 28, 2019
- Category: Word Games
- Topics: Adventures
- Size: 184.50 MB
- Publisher: Neopets
- Version: 1.3.0
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 11.0 or later; Android 4.4 and up.
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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For kids who love word games
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