Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 192,211,816 Issue: 636 | 14th day of Running, Y16
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by mheetu


Welcome to the games room. Regardless of your genre, whether it be puzzle games, adventure games, side-scrollers, shooters, or even nothing at all, these tips can improve your game. No longer will you be able to say, "I'm bad at games!" No longer will your trophy cabinet be sorrowfully empty! No longer will those game avatars taunt you on the Neoboards! In one measly guide, you will have the skills to win ALL THE GAMES.

First things first, you'll have to do some preparation. Fire up your training montage music:

Know thy game. This is perhaps the most important tip I can give. Know the mechanics, the special maneuvers, the enemies, the point system. Know things you wouldn't think of, such as whether momentum is involved and what slows/speeds you, whether losing a life makes you lose points, how quickly your shots fire. The more you know about a game, the more likely you are to get your desired score. Look for game guides written by other users in the Neopian Times or on petpages. Absorb their knowledge. Know the game. Be the game. Win the game.

Do some calculations. These will depend on what you want to achieve. If your goal is to reach 1000 neopoints, all you have to do is multiply the game ratio by 1000, and that's the score you need. If you're aiming for a trophy, you can pick a number you want to reach and use that. Figure out how approximately many points per level/minute you need to reach your goal. See how long it will take you to play to that score. These calculations can help you figure out if you're on track during the game and break up that seemingly impossible score into reasonable chunks. Be warned, however—while these numbers may help you, don't focus on them too much! Anything besides your goal should not be set in stone.

Play through to test the waters. As far as your textbook knowledge will get you, nothing beats first hand experience. Try playing though once without a specific goal in mind—it will give you a feel for the gameplay beyond a tutorial and help you test your limits in the game. You may also discover difficult tricks that require extra thought or easy moves that rack up points.

Practice makes perfect. Of course, everyone has heard this tip, but it's important nonetheless. You'll get a good eye for the game and learn what's feasible and what isn't in any situation. Not only should you practice playing, but learn about the different levels firsthand. In any game with different maps per level (for example Assignment 53, Ready to Roll, Bruno's Backwoods Breakaway, Petpet Rescue...), it is especially helpful to know the route like the back of your hand.

Now that you're familiar with your game, you should soon be ready to sit down and go for the gold. Carve out some time and follow these tips:

Set up the right environment. Success starts at home, so make sure you are comfortable in your surroundings. Be sure you're in a place you will be comfortable in for several minutes at a time. To prevent eye strain, try to make sure your computer screen is not the brightest/only light in the room. Check for any potential glare on the screen, and be sure your keyboard and mouse/trackpad are clean and quick.

Consider the sound. You may automatically turn off all sound when playing a game, or you may sing along the Meepit Juice Break theme song. When it comes to sound, you just have to do what works for you. There are many different options—the game music, sound effects only, white noise, instrumental music, lyrical music—so try them out to see which works best for you. If playing in total silence, remember that you'll be more susceptible to sudden outside noises, such as horns or creaky floorboards, which could mess up your game.

Concentrate on the game, not the score. While it's important to be mindful of your score, try not to check it every time you get another point. Wait until level breaks, checkpoints, or other lulls in the gameplay to take a glance at the score. This serves two good purposes. For one, you won't suddenly lose a life or lose momentum because you were looking at your score. Second, you won't psych yourself out. When you're constantly worrying about whether your score is/will be high enough for a trophy or avatar, you can start losing concentration, getting tense or jumpy, and making mistakes.

Play it safe. In most games, your lives are the most important thing. If there's a particularly risky maneuver that may score you a few extra points, think hard about doing it. Usually, the payoff is not worth losing a life.

Quit early. Maybe you got some bad luck in Spacerocked! or missed the target on your first shot in Ultimate Bullseye II. In some cases, it may be better to quit the game early and start over than to subject yourself to finishing the entire game only to be short a few points. If you use this technique, be sure you know it will be worth it! In some games, it's perfectly fine to miss some points or do badly on a level. Refer back to your calculations and play-through experience.

Pause. Not all games offer this function, but if yours does have a pause button, don't be afraid to use it. Sometimes a little break to survey the surroundings or take a deep breath will help you get through a game. Similarly, if there is no time limit/bonus, see if you can direct your character to a safe place for a minute to recompose. There's no reason you need to finish the game in two minutes rather than ten.

Chill. Imagine the following scenario: you're going for an avatar. Playing on your last life, you're just a stone's throw from those pretty pixels to match your Neoboard signature. With adrenaline rushing, you make a quick maneuver—and suddenly, it's GAME OVER, just a few points shy of the avatar. Before you throw away your keyboard in anger, remember that it happens to the best of us. You've come this far, so surely you can get it next time. Remember to keep yourself in check while playing the game, too. If your heart races, take a few breaths. If your palms sweat, dry them off when possible. As exciting as the games can be, if you get too worked up, you'll start making mistakes (not to mention it's not the best for your health).

So there you have it, a guide to every game in the Games Room. All these tips should apply to most games, but always use your best judgement. Now comes the really tough decision: what game to play first!

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