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Eight Game Avatars I Thought I'd Never Get: Part One


by maivry

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I've collected avatars for a long time, and if there's one thing that every avatar collector inevitably dreads, it's working on game avatars. These avatars require the most effort out of any other type of avatar, yet can be the most satisfying to obtain. However, many people put them off as long as they can while others are proficient at games and don't struggle with them so much.

I, like many avatar collectors, always considered myself a mediocre gamer at best. I tried my hardest to get new game avatars as they came, but there were certain ones I simply found hopeless and resigned myself never to receive. Then, years later, a funny thing happened. I grew up a bit and learned to better devote myself to reaching goals. I discovered that every game avatar is entirely doable with the right amount of knowledge and effort. Whether you run away at the sight of a flash game or enjoy them on a daily basis, whether you need virtually every flash game avatar or are bored out of your mind because you have nothing to work on until they release another, I hope this article will encourage you to face a challenge well.

General Principles

First, a little bit about how to go about getting game avatars in general. The most important factor for any game is patience. No matter how skilled you are, some games just take dumb luck and can be extremely frustrating. It's hard to continue playing when you approach your desired score only to be off by one point. Hopefully you won't have to suffer this fate, but if you do, you must not let it stop you. On the other hand, some games rely very little on luck, and you must work hard to become proficient at the game. Don't let this discourage you.

Here are the steps to earning any game avatar:

  1. Become familiar with the basics of the game.
  2. Read a good guide.
  3. Watch a video of a more experienced player playing the game.
  4. Practice, practice, practice.
  5. Take breaks.
  6. Repeat as much as necessary.

Step five is particularly important if you have a long list, because you don't want to go crazy working on game avatars. In addition to taking appropriate breaks while gaming, you don't want to spend all your time working on one when you have twenty other games you could be working on. I recommend either making a few games a daily activity or focusing on one at a time until you get it -- but only if you get it within a few days. If it takes longer than that you may want to focus on an easier avatar for the time being.

There are also things you shouldn't do:

  1. Don't ask someone else to play for you.
  2. Don't exploit any glitches in the game.
  3. Don't cheat, period.

These don'ts aren't just to keep you in line with Neopets' rules. They're not just to keep your account safe. They're not just to promote fairplay among players. Respecting these don'ts will also give you the greatest satisfaction when you do obtain that coveted game avatar, because you did it all by yourself within the intended limits. Game avatars are the most challenging group to tackle, and you'll want to earn them.

Avatars

Babaa - Maths Nightmare

Game: Maths Nightmare
Code: letimiyasleep (resets clock)
Pause: between rounds

This is not only the first avatar in my list, but also the first game avatar ever! This is one of the many game avatars that was originally available from an earlier version of the game. But I'm not going to tell you what it would have taken to get it with the old version, because I never managed to do so.

The main trick to this avatar is knowing which mode maximizes your point potential without driving you crazy. No matter what you do, you'll want to play in division mode because the points are high but the possible answers are limited. From there you'll have to choose the difficulty for yourself: Potato Counter and Brain Tree modes can both earn you the avatar.

Even if you're bad at math, it won't take long to master Potato Counter division, because most of the answers are 2. Yes, simply 2. The rest of the problems are also ones I'm sure you could figure out if you aren't under any pressure, so try playing the game just to get used to the limited set of problems in that mode. The main problem with this mode is that it doesn't take a lot of time to master, so you'll have a lot of competition. You'll have to maximize your score and be ready to submit it the instant the highscore board resets on the first of the month in order to get the avatar.

While Brain Tree mode is more difficult, it is still possible to master and you can get the avatar whenever you want. In fact, you could even try to get the trophy! While this mode doesn't have such easy answers as Potato Counter, the range of answers are still limited and have some easy patterns if you're good at memorizing. If you want to get the avatar at any time or are willing to maximize your score for the trophy, this is the mode you'll want to master.

Now, how do you go about maximizing your score in this game? You have to beat the clock. With the exception of the round where you run out of time, the amount of time you take in a given round is based on two things: 1. the amount of time it takes for all the questions to appear and 2. the amount of time it takes you to answer the final question after the last question appears. You can't change how fast the questions appear, but you can practice answering your final question as quickly as possible. The clock gives you about enough time to do four rounds and a little extra if you're fast. Fortunately, the clock also resets periodically -- at periodically increasing intervals -- and there's a code that lets you reset the clock manually: letimiyasleep. To maximize your score, you'll need to be as fast as possible for the last questions in the rounds following your final clock reset in round 12, all the way to each question in level 17. You won't have enough time to wait around for all the questions in level 17, unfortunately, but if you saved enough time to see and answer a few of them you're in a great position.

Remember, highscore avatars are awarded when trophies are given out at the end of every day. The avatar will automatically be added to your collection so long as you're still in the proper range on the highscore board at the appointed time.

My progress: I increased my highscore by over 5000 points just by using the right mode, and then obtained it during the second reset I attempted.

Deckswabber

Game: Stowaway Sting
Code: scrap (resets health)
Pause: between levels

If you ask me, the fact that you get this avatar through a game other than Deckswabber is a good thing, but Stowaway Sting is similar enough that I still avoided it for a long time. However, the good news is that you can get the avatar before the game gets too tough by practicing and making sure to collect bonuses.

You'll want to read and/or watch a guide in order to get to know the game and determine the target scores you should be going for. Your base score is based on your time and the number of money bags you get, but there are also diamonds worth 50 points that appear randomly. Beware, however, because diamonds are replaced with hearts that heal you if your health is too low, so if you want to get the avatar score before the game gets too difficult you'll want to keep your health intact.

Completing the levels well just takes practice doing so consistently while evading the enemies (and sinkholes!) that appear on the board. When I'm done with the board but I have more than one money bag left I like to leave two clear spaces so that I don't finish the board prematurely. As the game gets more difficult it will be harder to keep your health high enough to get diamonds, but when it is low you can use the code scrap to bring your health back up. You only have one life, so use it wisely.

Every three levels the game becomes more difficult. So when you reach level 4 you'll find that stepping on a blue square will turn it blank again. To solve such levels you'll want to start taking a path that turns all the squares blue without walking over them again. However, that's impossible to do in certain layouts, especially if you want to get money bags and diamonds before they disappear. In that case you'll need to rely on the base level blank squares and the walls to turn all your squares the right color. When you step into a wall (and for our purposes, tall crates you can't step off of or onto have "walls") it will change the color of your tile without moving you. Although you should still have time to gather as many points as possible in these levels, you may find yourself racing against the clock more than before, so it's okay to skip bonus points if it's the only way to have enough time to beat the level.

If you've done well you can get the avatar score before level 7, when tiles change from blank to blue to green. If not, don't worry. Gathering as many bonuses as possible in level 7 should work as a backup plan, and you won't have to worry about the tiles at all.

My progress: The learning curve in this game isn't so bad that my original highscore was terrible, but nonetheless it took a few days of practice to have the speed and accuracy necessary to make it through. Probably the main reason I tended to lose was simply because I'd always step into sinkholes. Try not to have the same fate.

Grundo - Snowthrow!

Game: Snow Wars II
Pause: between modes

Not only did this avatar correspond to another game once upon a time, but it even used to be a highscore board avatar. Thankfully that's all behind us. In the new version, the main trick is having a good setup. You need space between your snowmen and the edges so when you need to repair your fort the oversized pieces won't be your downfall. You also want to be careful to leave some space between your catapults and the walls so that you can easily repair any gaps in the wall around them.

To begin, restart the game until you have an arrangement of snowmen that leave a few spaces between them and the edges. Then, rapidly place any and all building blocks in a long rectangle around them. Don't worry about making it pretty or even. Just GO. This is a good game to watch someone else play, because you'll see how fast you need to be. By contrast, when it's time to arrange your catapults you'll want to arrange them in neat rows towards the front of your fort. Remember to leave a little space between them and the wall.

From here you will be repeating phases of fighting and rebuilding.

The fighting phases are pretty self-explanatory. Try to focus on catapults and areas where there are a lot of enemies, but don't ignore solitary lupes all by their lonesome. The snowballs take a little while to reach their destination, so you don't want to throw a half a dozen snowballs at one area when the first one is enough to do the job. Click a lot and in different areas. Ideally you'll be able to get every enemy in the given time.

In the rebuilding phase, use your time first to repair your wall if it's been breached, and secondly to build a secondary wall between the the front part of your fortress and the back so you have two sections. Once your walls are whole and established, you'll want to use the rest of your snow to fill in weaker spots. Don't waste any of it by not doing anything. If you have a piece that's too big to place where you need it, that's what the extra space on the board is for. In contrast, you won't necessarily want to fill your board with catapults. Yes, the more catapults you have the more you'll be able to trounce your enemies, but you also won't have space to repair your walls. Add two or three rows of catapults in the front half of your fortress and leave a couple spaces between them and the walls. Also add a few backup catapults in the back half of your fortress in case you have to go a round without the front half. Then stop adding catapults completely. Yes, stop. Leave any extra space for snow.

My progress: Once I learned to make a good setup, I beat my highscore in one game and got the avatar score in the next. I may have been lucky with that game, but there was probably only one time I thought I was close to losing.

Typing Terror

Game: Typing Terror
Pause: between levels

If there was any game on this list I originally thought I would get easily, it's this one. As a fast typist it should be natural, right? Wrong. That's because you won't get the avatar score simply by playing well and beating the game, but instead by getting bonus points. Not to mention even good typists would trip up on words like "ryshiki" and "czerniak." It was enough to make me endlessly frustrated with this game to the point where I didn't give it a chance.

The good news is that you don't have to be a super fast typist to beat this game. You simply have to know the vocabulary used in the game and practice. Each level draws from a pool of no more than 26 words based on the alphabet, so it's easy enough to practice troublesome words before you go into the level. For instance, the words beginning with S for each level are as follows: sup, sync, syrup, system, szilard, and syzygies. You'll note that every word has at least one U, Y, or Z. Get used to those letters! Additionally some of the words are just a plural form of the word from a previous round, such as fuzzle and fuzzles for levels 4 and 5. Learning the words used in each level will help you not only with your speed and accuracy, but it can help you find the right word to type if half of it is hidden from view or if you have trouble reading upside down.

As far as getting the score goes, your base score is obtained from the number of bots you destroy per level, the accuracy with which you do so, and the number of lives you have at the end of the game. In order to get the avatar you must have at least 2500 points and all your lives going into the boss level, where there are no bonuses other than the one for your accuracy. However, those 2500 points and extra lives are pretty much the only thing you have to worry about if you've mastered the boss level.

One tip to maximize your bonuses is to leave bots on the screen when you're reaching the end of the level. Only four can appear at a time, so if you only need one or two to finish the level you want to make sure they'll give you the most points you can get. Once there are four (or once one gets too close to your screen) you should go ahead and destroy one.

Most guides I've seen suggest restarting if you don't get at least 400 points in the first level, but I found that negatively affected how I played. Not only is it boring to replay the first level over and over until you get that uncommonly good score, but it made me more nervous when I reached the more difficult levels. Even when I had a good game going I tended to lose a life, nullifying the extra progress I'd made. If you find the same to be true for you, I recommend playing through the whole game periodically even if you don't get a proper score in the first level. After all, there are more bots in the later levels to give you more chances to get the bonuses you need. Forgetting about the avatar now and then doesn't hurt, so, due to the luck factor, you might be better off making this a daily game.

My progress: Since I was a good typist all along, my original highscore certainly wasn't bad. But I didn't have the patience to calmly play through a good game. I took a few days to get to know the vocabulary of the game (although you can skip that part and look it up) which largely calmed down my nerves attached to playing through all the levels. Once I knew I could play smoothly I just needed to keep playing until I had the right game.

To be continued

Stay tuned for four more challenging game avatars. In the meantime, why not try tackling these ones?

 

 
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