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Archive for June 2007:

Pirate and Sponge Acaras

I'm glad to know that I am not the only person who said to myself "... a cheese acara?!". If it was a cheese acara, it would be a rather nice cheese acara. But it is not, it is sponge and therefore is something of a letdown. I don't know if this could really have been avoided, though, since now sponge pets are fully 3D a crucial part of the "essence" of sponge has been lost. Any sponge pet in this shade of yellow is almost certain to look like cheese.

The base pet of pirate, underneath the clothing and accessories, is rather nice. It has some unusual markings- the stripes on the eyes and the darker coloured paws- which are an interesting addition and add to the value of the base colour itself. The clothing itself is a mixed bag, and not altogether that spectacular. The eye patch would look better if the strings holding it on looked more as if they could do their job: the angle the patch is at makes it look as if the string passes right through the poor acara's left ear. The shirt and waistcoat are nothing special, and this is clearly a lower ranked pirate pet compared to, say, the nimmo. The earrings are standard but fine, however, the horn accessories are rather odd. The bandages may be a substitute for the handkerchief or bandana some pirate pets have on their heads, but no other pirate pets have anything like bandages elsewhere on their bodies. The gold horn tips I'm not sure about, although they probably would make effective flails in combat.

To sum up the pirate acara, I think this is adequate for someone who wanted to paint an acara pirate, but to someone choosing a species for a pirate pet, it is mediocre.

I want to add a brief note about the acara day clothing, too. It seems that for the front page banner they remembered acaras are an aquatic neopet, but then in the clothing they were given flippers and a diving mask... Perhaps I'm just making too much of this, after all, quiggles can swim and yet they were given flippers for their pet day too. The nurse outfit is pretty standard, but the fancy gold headdress is odd and doesn't seem to fit with anything else, nor does it look that pretty on the acara either. It could have some significance with a plot character, but not one that I remember.

The discussion of these pet colours is here

Invisible and Island Kaus

There seems to have been a slight trend recently in having one "dud" colour and one interesting colour to comment on (or at least to me it seems that way). Kau day has fitted in nicely with that, invisible being traditionally a dud colour. The advent of customisable pets has made invisible slightly more interesting- in that you can put clothing onto the invisible pet, and sometimes it works nicely. Unfortunately, some items look completely wrong because there are transparent parts where the pet's colour would show through, but of course for invisible there is just a blank space or the background, and it doesn't work properly. Of course this is not particular to Kaus, so onto island for some specific commentary.

The island kau is a very standard island pet- white markings on tan, grass, flower, earrings and necklace with bone, but it is done nicely. Perhaps it would have been interesting to have had tan markings on white- and this might have worked nicely for a kau, but the other way round is also good. The accessories don't dominate the pet, and they fit well and don't appear fussy. Others have commented on the white of the tail and the horns- for me, this is not a problem and fits with the rest of the pet's colouring well- more of an issue for me is the colour of the inside of the ears, which is usually a lighter colour in the kau. These are somewhat nitpicky, though, and in the end this is a nice, albeit unspectacular, rendition of an island kau.

To discuss this pet, go here.

Glowing and Pirate for Nimmo Day

Green amphibians are clearly in vogue in Neopia right now. First the disco and snot quiggles, now a luminous green nimmo.

If you like glowing, and you like nimmos, then I'd say this is pretty spot on for you. The glow is very soft and seems to actually follow the body shape with some logic - see the shading where the arms cross the legs, or the glow around the neck. I happen to like neither, but I can still see that it's nicely done. After all, it's a radioactive treefrog - I'm not sure we can really ask for much different.

Pirate is not green, of course, but I'll forgive it for ruining my point because it is fabulous. Ok, so fabulous is a slight exaggeration, but it is certainly very nice. The overcoat is nicely detailed, but still simple enough to not look crowded. The boots look fine and there's just a hint of some britches hidden beneath. I have to wonder though - is that lace at the collar, or an undershirt? I wonder if it will be a separate garment.

Kudos to the artist for not giving it an eyepatch, there's no way that was ever going to end well. Though I must confess I'm not sure how that hat stays on, nor would I be wearing a hat if my eyes stuck out of the top of my head like that!

All in all though, a really competently executed pirate colour. It's nothing groundbreaking, but there's nothing wrong with it. Still, I'm not sure it's exciting enough to justify the pirate pb price.

Agree? Disagree? As always you can have your say on the forum.

Disco and Snot Quiggles

For quiggle day, we have two green quiggles. Actually, they're both decent. I think the customizable quiggles lost a bit - mainly the hand stuck out holding nothing - but it could be worse. And similar to EofS's complaint about the jubjubs, the new ones are at least standing solidly on the ground rather than jumping or kicking all the time.

The disco quiggle is quite toned down, for disco. And maybe that's a bad thing - after all, what is the color for? But considering that disco pets often make me want to claw my eyes out, I like this. The stripes on the arms are odd, though, being the only part that isn't green. I don't think doing the legs the same way would have helped, but leaving it off and making the whole quiggle green might be better. On the other hand, it seems like most disco pets have the base color as green. There's something to be said for consistency, but I like a bit of variety. The stars seem to be as rubber-stamped as a few other pets, but they're small so it's not noticeable. On many pets (notably the cybunny, jubjub, and acara) the stars blatantly ignore the curve of the body.

Snot is less good, but still acceptable; it has the same problem as the other new snot pets in not being drippy enough. Snot is not a color I like much, but if it's got to exist, it ought to be drippy. Previously, snot pets actually looked like they were made of snot. Now they're just covered in it. Even the eyes were snot-colored on a lot of them, but these are just the normal buggy quiggle eyes. It does get points for the goop coming down from the left hand and forming a pile on the ground. I suppose that that works within the limits of customization - it probably won't be covered by clothes that will cover the rest, but neither is a glowing pet's aura. (I note, upon review, that the finger on the far left is cut off. I'm guessing that's just a problem with the New Features image.)

Have your say on the discussion thread, here.

Ice and Split Jubjubs

Ice
Pros:
- it looks very sleek and smooth and shiny, I especially like the shine down the middle of its face
- despite not being redrawn at all, somehow the blue outline makes the fur look more... solid
- on a similar note, the toes somehow look blockier
- it reminds me of nothing so much as the bit in X-Men where Pyro makes the flame so doodad freezes it. I always thought that ice flame looked really, really pretty. So I like that the jubjub looks like it.

Cons:
- whilst I like that they slightly redrew the mouth, it looks even more off centre than the basic new jubjub
- the shading is all over the place. Whilst I don't doubt that this is a decent enough rendering of a ball of ice in the given medium, that doesn't really mean much because it's not aesthetically pleasing in the least
- the darkest shade is rather dominant, and I don't think it's a very nice shade at all

I'm not sure where I stand on the multifaceted ice pets issue. On one hand, ice sculptures I've seen have never been as blocky and harsh as most ice neopets. On the other hand, if they're not so roughly hewn then they're basically pale blue pets with a white outline, bizarre shading and the occasional shine. Which is why I'm putting the fact that the jubjub is not blocky as neither a pro or con - I honestly don't know how I feel about it.

Overall
I... dunno. It doesn't offend me particularly, but it doesn't excite me either. It's just very unmemorable. Like most ice pets, I suppose.

Split
Pros:
- ...
- ...
- the line between orange and purple follows the contours of the fur nicely?

I'm sorry, it's very hard to list the pros to this pet. It's not that that's because it's so incredibly, awfully wrong and horrible and doesn't have anything right. It's not that at all. It just doesn't have anything worth commenting on. Standard split colours, no multiple poses to complain about lazy mirroring, very simple pet so no space for clever designs.

Cons:
- the orange foot seems to be a different shade to the body but actually isn't, though I had to use the colour-picker to check. What is different is the colour used for shading. So it looks like a very subtly different orange. Which looks pretty bad
- why is the eyebrow on the orange side not purple? That would make sense, and look nicer
- it's doing karate and must surely fall over sometime soon
- the change from purple to orange makes it pretty clear that the jubjub's mouth is off-centre, being positioned on the right-hand-side of the face
- I'd have liked to see the eye colour change - preferably purple on the orange side, orange on the purple. But anything but that blue, it doesn't co-ordinate at all

Overall
As far as a split jubjub goes, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Which is about as much as you can ever ask for from a split pet - they've never been the best ones out there. And staring at it trying to find good points has given me possible insight into the bizarre kicking pose we've been given. I think it might actually be sitting. If you cover up its right foot, it looks like it's sitting with its let foot out and slightly curled. If its right foot could be redrawn (I'm thinking like the old Clay Jubjub) then it would be a very, very cute pet. And given the option between "well-drawn but permanently kicking" and "poorly-drawn but sitting" I think I'm going to try to brainwash myself to the latter, if nothing else because my poor jubjub is already suffering from herpes and the kung-fu pose has been driving me up the wall.

Clothing
Far, far more of note than the colours. So much more that I feel compelled to comment briefly on them.

So very cute. I love the hoody (both as an item, and the Kenny-look on the jubjub) and the rainbow toe-socks are fabulous. I would seriously consider getting them myself. The hard hat is cute enough too, but TNT needs to put the lens-flare tool down (see the Royal Yurbles) and step away from the coconut watch. Where does a jubjub wear a watch anyway?

As ever you can have your say on the forum.