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Archive for July 2007:

Royal Peophin

Another pair of royal pets, for a pet day, the second since customisation began. But unlike the Yurbles, these are instantly appealing. Thankfully for an aquatic pet, the accessories have been kept simple, and the result is smooth and uncluttered. The base colours chosen are a nice change from the other peophin bases, and the manes tone elegantly with the base.

The slight differences in expression in the male and female work well, and the female looks graceful and elegant, the male looking stronger and fiercer. Golden accessories without excessive shines (unlike the yurbles, again) mean that the pets do not look cheap and tacky. I think that these royal peophin show that post-customisation it really is possible to have very pretty pets, even without the repose. And I am very glad of it.

Add your thoughts and opinions here.

Electric and Pirate Kikos

There's nothing much to say about electric. I still really wish there could be sparks or something - it used to be a much more interesting color. Still, the electric kiko isn't bad given the constraints. The stripes are good, not too many, not too few, and placed well enough. The bandage's color contrasts oddly with the blues, but the only solution really would be to remove it, and it seems that's the only thing that gives kikos any character at all.

Pirate is nice, though. The hat is good, although the shading seems slightly flat. The bandana peeking out is good, and the jacket is done so convincingly that it's easy to forget the kiko's absurd shape. The hint of lace at the sleeves adds just enough detail without making it busy, a common trap with pirate pets. Lastly, the eyes are changed to look fiercer - that seems to be the only difference from a standard blue kiko, but it's enough to really make the character of the pet. The one major flaw is the earring - or rather, hatring. There is absolutely no logic to it, except that apparently all pirates must have earrings even if they don't have ears.

Discuss the new kikos on the forum.

Darigan and Orange Tuskaninnies

This post is teamwork! EofS couldn't think of anything to say about Darigan, and ooga couldn't think of anything to say about orange, so we each wrote half.

ooga: It's hard to come to a solid opinion about Darigan. Individual elements are quite good, and the overall concept isn't bad. But there's something horribly off about it and I would never want to own one. The wings are terrible. They're too blobby, too small, and sort of misplaced, and I would have liked them a bit more tattered. The eyes are nearly solid red, which looks very strange, and more diseased than evil. I like the fangs and the hair, and there's nothing particularly wrong with the spikes on the tail. The tuft of hair on the chest seems ridiculous - it's a sea creature, after all, it should be streamlined (which is another issue with the wings, but I'll let that slide). The face, on the whole, looks more cute than fearsome. There may be desire for cute Darigan pets, but the color is really not meant for that. I think the problem comes from the fact that this is little more than a colorfill - sadly necessary for customization, I suppose, but I think the artist could have done something with the smile to make it a bit scarier.

E: It's usually pretty hard to go wrong with a colourfill. Not that TNT haven't managed to do just that, but it does take quite a lot. Which is not to say that the orange tuskaninny has gone wrong, just that it's not... ideal. It feels like there are too many shades of orange on there (nose, muzzle, hair, eyes, body) - I haven't eyedroppered them to check, but they all *look* different at the very least. On a closer look, the nose is pink. But the orange muzzle makes it look peachy-orange. Individually none of them are objectionable, but all together they become a bit much.

That said, it's hardly a damning criticism. If your lifelong ambition has been to have an orange coloured seal to care for on the internet, then I don't think you'll die unfullfilled. But if I got an orange pb I just had to use, I think I'd use it elsewhere.

Have your say on the discussion thread.

Camouflage and Snow for Ixi Day

Both of these are pretty awful - but then, so is the base pet. I remember back when Ixis first appeared. When the first Meridell plot started, ixis and draiks were both limited edition, and when Meridell was officially discovered, ixis were made unlimited. I grabbed one because I thought I liked them. Later I decided I they were hideous, and got rid of her. The latest revamp hasn't actually made that many changes, but all the bad characteristics - the creepy face, the small neck, and of course the huge head - have all been made even worse. These two new colors have all of those characteristics, and more bad ones.

The colors used for camouflage are, fortunately, usually logical. A few make no sense - a purple poogle? A yellow xweetok? The scorchio's red and orange scheme is an exception because its natural habitat is a volcano. But ixis don't live in volcanoes, so this one should not be red. It also appears to have no shading whatsoever. And the collar blends in so thoroughly with the rest of the pet that you can't even tell it's there, so what's the point? The face looks very odd because of the dark shades used on the edges - the mouth melts into the nose and the nose melts into the rest of the face. It's as if they were trying to make the entire pet look as flat as possible.

Snow is slightly better. The carrots for horns aren't too overdone, and there's some nice drippiness - but the outline is far too smooth. If the outline has to be solid for customization reasons, it would have been better to make the whole pet smooth, rather than allow this inconsistency. The collar is cute, with a small leaf instead of the standard jewel, but the tail being a leaf doesn't quite work - it's the same shape as a normal tail, but you know it's flat, so there's a bit of a logical disconnect. The hoofs are supposed to be coal, I guess, but they don't look anything like it. At least the coal eyes are all right.

If you disagree and like them, or want to criticize them in other and more creative ways, have your say here.

Jelly Grundo

I'm not sure we've ever had commented out news on Neopets before. Personally, I'm bored of the whole "Jelly World doesn't exist" joke, but clearly TNT isn't. With the jelly themed day, they gave us a jelly grundo. And it's yellow and shiny.

Okay, I really ought to write more than that, but at least we haven't written in the news here and then commented it out? I think the grundo's antennae are rather nicely done, and certainly this is more of a success than the jelly koi was. Unfortunately the revamped grundo pose includes those awkward fist shaped hands, and they don't manage to look at all natural and non-fist shaped (like, perhaps, the kacheek).

Have your say here

Halloween and Speckled Flotsams

The flotsam was one of the species that clearly benefited from customization. Comparing the new ones to the old version shows how much improvement there has been; the old art was clearly outdated, but more than merely updating the style, the new version adds the grace present in the royal flotsams.

Speckled, therefore, looks lovely, because it has an excellent base to work from. But it's also well done. The artist chose not to add speckles on the lighter-colored belly, and the effect is very nice. Instead of looking like a random mishmash of spots, it looks organized and elegant. The spots on the back are denser than most speckled pets', but without being too cluttered. A nice addition.

I'm not sure what to think about the Halloween flotsam. It seems like it's been a long time since we had a Halloween pet that was so clearly wearing a costume (though, on looking through them, it does seem costumes are the majority). I prefer the pets that actually become Halloween creatures - whether mummies or werewolves or characters from the site (Nightsteed, or the Tax Beast). The concept works better, and especially with customization, it ensures that you have more than a plain-colored pet with some clothes on. But I have to say that this is a very nice-looking costume. The fabric looks beautifully flimsy and ethereal. It's hard to tell for sure, but it looks like the eyes have been changed slightly - they're certainly red - so that might add interest once the sheet has been removed (probably in two pieces, judging by the jagged edge at the neck). One feature I dislike is the way the draped cloth throws the horn into such prominence. I tend to completely forget the flotsam even has a horn. Normally, it looks as graceful as the rest of the pet, but the cloth widens at the base (as it would realistically, I admit) and the result is slightly ugly.

Your opinions are welcome on the forum.

In other news, the NC mall (where you can buy clothing with Neocash, purchased through Paypal) will be in open beta tomorrow. I'll be interested to see how many people actually buy things. There are some lovely items available, particularly backgrounds, but will anybody think they're worth real money? Time will tell.