I’m sure most 90s kids remember Neopets. Heck, it seems that kids from the 2000s remember Neopets. Despite being conceived in the early days of the World Wide Web, Neopets continues to have a huge following. It is little surprise then that they have a game app now, too. Actually, it’s quite surprising that they only have one considering the hundreds of games published on the website.
Ghoul Catchers is a Neopet-themed Candy Crush that requires users to connect three of a kind of ghoul in order for them to disappear off the grid. Players are only given a certain amount of moves to reach a specified score goal. Reaching the goal awards the player one star. The higher the score, the more stars are earned, with the most being three stars. Theses stars are needed to unlock more levels. The best way to earn more stars is through combo moves, where you match more than three ghouls or have more matches made when ghouls disappear off the grid.
Although I don’t recall these ghouls being on the Neopets site, the levels are based off the unique lands of Neopets. The first 20 levels take place in Brightvale, a Renaissance themed kingdom, the next 20 take place in Faerieland (which you can guess is a land full of cute faeries, pretty clouds, and rainbows), followed by Terror Mountain (an eternal winterland), Lost Desert (Egyptian inspired land), Shenkuu (East-Asian world), and finally, Altador and its ancient Roman and Greek inspired theme with the promise of more levels to come soon.
The frustrating thing is the sudden difficulty hike that happens after the tenth level. Acquiring a one star score is no problem, but getting the full three stars proves to be challenging after this point considering the ridiculous ease of achieving full stars in the previous levels. Even though the player is granted more moves, the grid changes shape and often presents obstacles, making it more difficult to complete combo moves. By level 20, all you really need is luck in how the ghouls fall onto the grid; and try not to use the power-ups! They’ll cost you an extra dollar if you use up your freebie.
The game play itself is only adequate. The app tends to be laggy at points and can often freeze at any point from the initial load screen to the completion of a level, forcing the user to restart the app. Despite this, there are some positives to the game. The music is catchy as hell and very suitable to the game’s aesthetic: a little spooky, yet alluring and mysterious. The sound effects go well with the animations and give a satisfying feeling when completing matches and combos. The artwork is also pleasing, maintaing the established Neopets aesthetic.
However, the best part about the game is that players can earn up to 50,000 neopoints per day through the app, something unprecedented with the website games that only allow a maximum of 3,000 neopoints a day per game. It is really for this reason alone that anyone should play this game. Although it is a decently made game, the unpredictable freezing and lag is really only worth earning those neopoints for Neopet players and not for casual play. With that, I genuinely hope the Neopets team comes out with more game apps and continue to improve this one as they have set a decent base to build on.