Ever stolen from the giant omelette in a bid to save Neopoints to buy a Rainbow Paintbrush? Collected feathers just because you could and then built yourself a iron weapon? Considered spending real money on virtual clothes just to fit in?
We know you have. For many these Internet Games -Neopets, Runescape and Habbo Hotel- formed a fond part of their pre-adolescent years. Impact decided it was time to revisit these long forgotten past times of youth and judge them for what they are now.
It was with some discomfort that I was able to able to slip out of capable, sociable, hard working student persona and become socially awkward 13-year-old Emily as I visited Neopets for the first time in almost a decade. The garish yellow reminded me of a past I’d tried to forget, a life where you would have found me at my computer at 2am whacking a Kass repeatedly with a loaf of bread.
It is very much unchanged in terms of layout, frozen it seems in the golden time when Neopets was all the rage. My own Neopets are still in a perpetual state of ‘dying’ from starvation. Not even years of neglect have finished them off.
Everything –the maps, the quests- is the same. My shop is even still there with its immortal, cringe-worthy description: ‘U love candy, I luv candy, we all luv candy especially where the stars abd stripes is our national anthem, if u fink u want 2 lose weight, DON’T THE GR8EST DELIGHT IN THE WESTERN WORLD IS RITE AT UR FINGER TIPS!!!!! Also now selling plushies!’.
21-year-old Emily who prides herself on her correct grammar and spelling is still recoiling in horror. I’d understand if you were too.
Embarrassment aside, perhaps the Neopets staff thought ’if it ain’t broke’. Yet, embarking on playing Hannah and the Ice Caves I encountered an issue almost straight away that seemingly no number of shockwave downloads could fix.
I had no problem though playing the other games that I had wasted my pre-teen years on, namely Dubloon Disaster and Extreme Potato Counter. You know what they say- you’re not a true dare devil unless you’ve counted virtual potatoes as they fly across your screen.
Finally the productivity-guilt kicked in and told me it was time to log off, perhaps for good. Nowadays there’s no time for collecting Neopoints when you have three essays to write and four exams to revise for. It’s probably for the best- there’s no way I would want to be 13 again.
Lumbridge. Varrock. Falador.
Are you feeling that warm, fuzzy feeling too? Is it all coming back? The hours spent clicking on small, grey coloured rocks to collect iron ore, picking up feathers for no real reason, wandering haplessly into the wilderness. Those really were the days.
If the answer is no, then what the hell where you doing as a pre-teen? Going outside and hanging out with your friends? Pah! The real fun was to be found on Runescape, the poor man’s World of Warcraft – it ran from your internet browser and looked like total wank, but Christ it was addictive.
When I was offered the opportunity to plunge back in I was overjoyed, an excuse to indulge my inner 12 year old? What could be better?
I created a new character – Ser Impact, and dressed him completely in skimpy florescent pink clothing because Impact is just so damn fabulous. I entered the game, barely containing my sense of glee.
What greeted me disturbed me. They had tried to make it into a proper, fully fledged game! It started with a crappy cutscene about a troll invasion (or something), and I don’t mean crappy in a cute way, I mean crappy in a shit way.
I had expected to wander through good old Tutorial Island, before appearing fresh-faced into the quaint and familiar town of Lumbridge. But Tutorial Island is no more, instead you’re forced to contend with a clunky, boring mess known as the ‘Troll Warzone’. I wanted to trot around Varrock and sell feathers for inconsequential amounts of gold. I wanted to walk about asking high levels for free stuff. I wanted to proudly smith my first bronze shortsword. But alas, it was not to be.
Farewell Runescape, goodbye forever. *insert sobbing noises*.
Unlike other chat rooms, Habbo Hotel was always a strange place of constant role-play, scams and censored swearing.
Navigating the ‘rooms’, there’d be entire high schools, army camps and chapels built up in virtual furniture, or furni, paid for with real cash. They’d be covered in sticky notes listing rules and filled by totalitarian members ready to kick you out or tell you to “bobba off” for failing to comply with their uniforms.
There were two types of players – those who took it way too seriously, and those who exploited those that did. Nothing has changed and so there are still people who go purely to block you in at the door of rooms and set up games to con you out of your credits.
Now you can sign in using Facebook, complete quests and use an emergency exit in case of cyber-bullying. There was also a few unicorns wandering around spouting inspirational quotes, but make of that what you will.
So, if you find yourself procrastinating from revision, I don’t think a dip into Habbo would be too disastrous. Unless you start blowing your loan on HC goodies that is. If so, good luck.