Written by Jonathan Wojcik

September 27: The BEST Spooky Petpets!

   We just talked about neopets earlier this month, but the Brain Tree and Esophagor are barely scratching the surface of the website's admittedly cool Halloween content, and some of the coolest by far are the Petpets offered through the Haunted Woods. What are Petpets, you ask? What do you think? They're stupid, imaginary pets for your stupid, imaginary pets. They're smaller, dumber, and fifty times more diverse than neopets themselves, ranging from extraterrestrial robots to deep sea fish and everything in between, with some real gems hailing from the same realm as our favorite Brainy, Tree-ey pal.


   If I had to pick just one Petpet for the very Halloweeniest, I have to concede it could only be the Gremble. With his orange striped socks, crazy hair and stitched-together skull mask, the little guy clearly invokes some sort of slasher movie villain, but lacks the proper appendages for finding imaginative new ways to get kitchen utencils into teenagers.


   Inventive and surprisingly unsettling, the "goulblee" doesn't seem to have any particular basis, just some armless, mouthless, tentacled goblin with Hedorah-like eyes and flesh the consistency of candle wax. The name implies some kind of ghoul connection, so we can probably assume it digs its way down to buried corpses for sustenance. It definitely looks like it would. It probably has a mouth somewhere amidst all those appendages, like an actual cephalopod.


   So for one April Fool's Day, Neopets played the amusingly cruel prank of "revealing" more than fifty new pet species, only one of which was ever really made into a pet - with significant alterations. Among the lineup of phonies was a beautiful, sinister looking arthropod, and perhaps as compensation, they seemed to adapt the design into this octopus-spider-balloon Petpet, a combination that just reminds me of Steven King's IT and ties in nicely with the creepy fairground sub-section of the Haunted Woods.


   It just wouldn't be a selection of spooky pals without a darling little tissue-ghost, its official filename even calling it a "sunshine monk" after the Japanese teru-teru-bozu.

   Of course, I really just needed show you the Ghostkerchief to give the "mutant" version some context. Only a few Spooky petpets have mutant options, and I still won't bother to show all of them, but you just can't pass on a demented, haunted snotrag.


   A cute, cartoon slug is a considerably rarer, more coveted treat than a cute, cartoon snail, and I appreciate that a cute, cartoon Slug eventually became the one of the most over-exposed things on the website. Seriously, the staff is just in love with these damn things. If only they'd given us a full-sized Neopet version, as they once hinted was under consideration.

   The Slorg is also fortunate to come in a mutant version, and very nearly my favorite thing that still exists on the site. I get that it's supposed to look salted, which is funny and all, but a withered, screaming slug monster with bloodshot, droopy eyestalks doesn't need even that justification.


   Did I say the Slorg was over-exposed? These fluffy pink hamsters were rather charmingly categorized as a "spooky" Haunted Woods pet for their eerie, penetrating stare, allegedly harboring dark secrets. A cute gag, but one that rapidly evolved into a forced, internal meme. "Meepits are cute pink hamsters but totally sinister" has been positively hammered into the neo-dust at this point, and shows no sign of fading. It was still pretty fun the first time, at least.


   Released alongside the Slorg and Meepit, the Sludgy unfortunately never caught on to quite the same degree, but this Grimer-like underdog is certainly a favorite of mine, especially with that doofy smile and deranged eyeballs.

   A very clever "maraquan" (aquatic) variation on the Sludgy was at some point uploaded to the site's image servers, but for whatever reason, never released to the public. Sad.


   If the Sludgy isn't your ideal globule of animate goo, of course, there's always the Goople released years later. You might think the two are a little redundant, but as an expert on the matter of sludge creatures, I find them as different as night and day. Both are precious and lovable, for entirely different reasons.


   This one is a holdover from the very first batch of Haunted Woods petpets, the majority of which were completely replaced with the better-drawn creatures you see here. Others included things like soda cans and humans, which all had their charms, but didn't make a whole lot of sense. I'm glad the Short Fuse was a keeper, though. You can't go wrong just putting adorable eyes on a cartoon bomb.


   Another early relic, they apparently felt that a three-eyed psychic mouse with an umbrella still made perfect sense, and again, I'm glad, because it kind of rules. It's even kind of seriously creepy.


   One more untouched oldie, the Walking Carpet is actually one of the prizes given out by the Brain Tree, who I like to assume breeds them out of his trailer. Its name and item description ("Rawwwroooorrrrghhhh!") seem like nods to Chewbacca, though it's more of a weird, nondescript Cousin It sort of monster.

   There's a few reasonably cute walking carpet variants available, even a mutant, but my favorite is the Dung. Not nearly enough petpets are available in stylish fecal matter, and I think the carpet's simple "heap with eyes" design lends itself best to the excremental look. With the horns, you can pretend it's a little baby Golgothan!


   We're getting into the "body part" petpets here, every one of which is a unique and special treasure. How could you not love a happy, disembodied tongue with a tongue of its own, leaving gross saliva everywhere like some sort of horrible tongue-slug?

   There's a mutant Dribblet available, which is basically just a purple Dribblet with more insanity and more limbs. I'm not sure what those nodules near the end are supposed to be.


   It took them long enough to make an eyeball-themed Petpet, but this little goblin was definitely worth the wait. Though it has a mouth and ears, I'm glad they grow directly out of its vitreous jelly. As long as the eyeball itself constitutes the "head," we're still dealing with an eyeball creature. Add too much flesh around the ocular itself, and you're just dealing with a cyclops. This is important stuff, people.


   I'm glad that this pet is just an inexplicable, severed green tentacle with a happy face in an entirely unnatural place, and I'm glad they just call it "Green Tentacle."


   I put an exclamation mark on INTESTEEN because this little jerk is the real reason I never completely disowned neopets.com through one inane fiasco after another. The instant I saw this slimy, veiny, doe-eyed rectum I almost (almost) forgave the merciless mutant makeovers of 2002. As much as I love body organ monsters of every variety, digestive system monsters almost always win out over the more common brains and eyeballs. This is absolutely everything I've ever wanted in a virtual pet, or, for that matter, any kind of pet. The day I can really keep an intestine alive in an aquarium is the day science will have finally caught up with my life long dreams.

   As an added bonus, the Intesteen is another spooky petpet with a "mutant" form, and it looks a lot like some sort of parasitic worm. The heads even call to mind the scolex of a tapeworm. I don't know if that's intentional, but it's certainly satisfying, even if I still like the normal, pure Intesteen the best.