When I was a youngin’ on Neopets, my favorite aspect of the game was collecting “secret avatars.” These avatars were how players would represent themselves on the Neopets message boards; avatars that were harder to earn came with tons of clout. You’d need specific pets in specific colors to earn some of the avatars, high scores in games for others, and just pure dumb luck for a chunk of them.
As an adult, I still play Neopets sometimes, and these avatars still appeal to me. Maybe that’s why I decided to try and grind for all these pixel icons before Google Chrome stopped supporting Flash. I didn’t want to think back on my neo-life with neo-regrets.
Ultimately, I just think they’re neat. Maybe it’s the 50-by-50 pixel aesthetic or maybe it’s my obsession with collecting various things. Regardless, once I heard that Chrome’s support for Flash had been extended from the end of 2020 to Jan. 12, 2021, I logged back into Neopets and got to work. It was time for me to earn more secret avatars.
There are tons of avatars you can earn from features on the site that don’t use Flash, but I can earn those any time. Last week, I just focused on the games, which I predicted would stop working after Jan. 12. While it seems like the Neopets team is working on converting these games to HTML5, it’ll be a long time until they’re all converted, if they ever even achieve this goal.
As a child, I remember struggling to earn even remotely OK scores in these games. They were too hard! But I thought, “Surely, as an adult I’ll be able to get the required scores in these games now — no problem.” I was wrong.
Image: Neopets, Inc. via JellyNeo
It turns out that a lot of these games are still really hard. And I’m missing dozens of avatars that require you to play a Flash game. In early January, I had logged into Neopets, thinking I would get some of the avatars from just playing the games a couple times. But I quickly realized this project was not going to be a one-and-done situation. After I was done stressing out, I decided to make a list of games that I could feasibly get the avatars in, if I put in the work:
- Sutek’s Tomb (A match-three, like Bejeweled)
- Gadgadsgame (A combination of Puyo Puyo and Tetris)
- Meepits’ Juice Break (A puzzle game where you connect tubes to feed hungry Meepits)
- Meepit Versus Feepit (A side-scrolling fighting game)
- The Buzzer Game (A game where you have to carefully trace over a line with your cursor)
- Snowmuncher (A Dig Dug-like game where you eat through snow to reach the bottom)
- Extreme Herder (A herding game where you prevent petpets from getting eaten by a hungry wolf)
- Typing Terror (A typing game)
Thanks to some Neopets game guides from JellyNeo, I realized that a lot of these games actually required both skill and luck. It wasn’t a matter of just beating a Flash game and then unlocking a secret avatar. There were several games in which rare items or monsters needed to spawn throughout your playthrough so that you could get the high score necessary to earn the avatar.
Image: Neopets, Inc. via JellyNeo
Typing Terror was one of these luck-based games, to my frustration. I can type very fast, and I can clear the game perfectly while making no mistakes, but luck was not on my side. I played Typing Terror for hours, but still, the avatar escaped me.
Through the stress and the grind, I was able to actually get about half of the avatars I was aiming for. But it wasn’t easy. At one point during Gadgadsgame when my score was nearing the requirement for the avatar, I began sweating and shaking. The bulbous fruit was falling so fast, giving me no time to think about where I needed to place them successfully. If I had lost a few points shy, I certainly would have rage-quit, but with some panic and luck, I was able to reach 1,000 points.
“Julia, it sounds like you did not have fun doing this, so why did you do it?” you may ask. I did it for the same reason people like to play hard games, reader. The pay-off after my sweaty, anxiety-riddled playthroughs felt incredible. Seeing the little blurb that rewarded me with the avatar was so satisfying.
Image: Neopets, Inc. via Polygon
I ended up with avatars from Sutek’s Tomb, Meepit Versus Feepit, The Buzzer Game, and Gadgadsgame. Unfortunately, I never got the Typing Terror avatar. I’ll have to wait until the games get updated to go back on the grind, because apparently I have learned nothing from the stress of this experience and remember only the sweet prize of the avatar.
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