I took a look at my favorite pet site designs, including Neopets, a while back. However, the pets themselves are often only a small fraction of the delicious graphical content to absorb in any one of these games. Neopets started the tradition of letting your pets… have pets. Petpets. These smaller, simpler creatures often felt like ways to explore rejected designs for the main pets, and without the stipulation to create tons of recolors and variations for each paintbrush (of course, nowadays, petpets can also be painted, but not all of them have many recolor options).
So let’s take a look at my favorite designs for these pets of pets, the petpets (and if you’ve been keeping up with Neopets, you’ll know that there are now petpetpets, but that’s just pure madness).
Normally I’m not a huge fan of inorganic or robotic creatures, but this little mechanical cephalopod is incredibly cute – I mean, just look at that NAME – and I’m a sucker for the dark gray and vibrant glowing blue color palette.
Something about the art for this creature reads as very old to me, almost like it came out of MS Paint. It’s such a basic creature, just a yellow circle with black fire and an angry vampire face, but I love the intense color contrast and the simplicity of that solid-black fire.
I like that this creature is meant to be the ultimate pirate-themed petpet. This creature’s proportions are exactly what I think a petpet should be – an incredibly chibi-fied creature that is perpetually in big-eyed, big-pawed kitten awkwardness. I especially love the Gallion’s little curved snout, evocative of sea serpents, and those bright black-sclera eyes.
Personality! Of course it makes sense that a gargoyle would be anxious and wary of people, and I love how clearly this petpet displays the demeanor of a skiddish dog.
This petpet is named after a pun on English linguistics – but it’s also a really cool, visually calming, adorable little ray or skate. I love how soft it looks, and those neat little insectoid feelers really balance out the knobby round tail.
Jeff the Killer? Edward Scissorhands? This demented little cutie is clearly inspired some kind of creepypasta-esque or horror movie design, featuring flyaway hair, a stitched “mask”, and striped curly socks. I love that it manages to be slightly creepy even while reducing its inspiration to an adorable, armless nubby critter.
This sounds like what I would have named a dragon OC back in 2005 on deviantART. I love that it only has two forelegs, its hindquarters turning into wind or water.
Not the most creative name, especially since a quetzal is a real bird, but I love this take on a feathered serpent. The way the feathered crest almost resembles a bushy jungle plant or a lion’s mane, and that dorky beaked face is adorable.
Yes! I love interpretations of the Set animal, a mysterious giraffe-dragon-jackal-like creature that we still can’t exactly equate to any real animal. I like that they gave it a sleek, catlike body with delicate, lightweight paws, giving it the overall impression of something very sneaky and quiet.
I’m always a sucker for cute skeletons. Look at those three little dorky cartoon hairs on its head! And they didn’t even try to give it magical eyes, they’re just empty sockets.
The Snowager is a fearsome ice dragon-serpent-worm, but curiously enough, the Snowickle has legs! Isn’t it weird how you can almost hear the pathetic baby dinosaur noises this little guy would make?
The style of this creature really stands out to me – it has much bolder lineart and more dynamic movement than a lot of other Neopets petpets. Plus, again, I love black sclera (that’s the normally-white part of the eyes) and that combination of steel blue and cream colors.
When you see fantasy turtles, they usually have something like a tropical island or a volcano for a shell. This guy has a pyramid! Those big droopy eyes convey a sort of pathetic personality, but I just love the idea so much.
Another pathetic and mopey petpet, this pale dragon appears completely baleful and pathetic, but different from the depressed Grey pets. It reads as something lost and out-of-place, a delicate fantasy beast misplaced from a strange land.
More of that bold black lineart and black sclera, I wonder if I’ve found the same artist who drew the Surzard? This little guy has a delightfully mischievous face, and I love the colors again. It reads as a chubby toddler, and I imagine it would walk stiffly, plodding around on those big dumb Care Bear feet.
I mean, it’s a zombie dog with four ears making the DreamWorks face. I love it. I love the ridge of messy fur on the head, the notches in the green ears, and the faint Jack Skellington lines on the mouth. He looks like he doesn’t know why he’s alive or where he is, and I think that’s a great way for a zombie to be.