As we wind down on 2019, we’re going back into an old routine: looking back on the year that was, and recapping the highlights (and lowlights) of Poptropica and the PHB community. This year: flashing new, slashing old.
Poptropica recently shared their own recap of 2019, where they explained many of this year’s game updates, which were largely aesthetic changes, as “a really important part of the conversion process for getting the game off of Flash.” As a refresher: Poptropica was originally built on Flash, an older technology that will lose browser support by the end of next year. So, for some time now, Poptropica has been working on rebuilding away from Flash.
This process has brought about some fun design changes to the game over the past year—but there have been losses, too. Let’s hit rewind and get to it!
Poptropica kicked off a year of visual updates with two big changes in January: a new friends profile, and highly anticipated personal pets (and later, with accessories, too!). While the pets were generally well received, the friends profile redesign came with mixed reviews, as many of the original features were dropped, like adding friends by username or viewing island medallions. Showcasing a photo booth album was a nice new addition until the photo booth randomly disappeared later in the year.
In February, Poptropica gave members another perk: double the credits from the daily Wheel of Loot. It seemed silly at first, but then in March, the in-game Store got a makeover—and while the visuals were a big part, there were some other changes as well, and they had to do with membership: even members had to pay for store items with credits, and many of the items became for members only, even ones that used to be available to all.
Also in March, Home Island received the first of 2019’s various redecorating schemes with a pastel spring look!
Plus, a new face on the Creators’ Blog finally introduced herself as Blue Tooth, Poptropica’s official blogger. She isn’t quite as active as Poptropica’s former social media manager, Skinny Moon, but her engagement with the community has involved a more active Instagram page (and a less active Twitter feed). With it, she delivers Pop news in a fun, excited tone, as well as featured fan art and look book outfits, including a short-lived “Look of the Week” series and the never-delivered “Clubhouse of the Week” promise.
April brought about drastic changes to the map, with new categories that made much more sense than the previous update in 2017, and Flash-made islands relegated to the end. These “Old School Islands” met an even worse fate a few months down the line, when they were removed from the map entirely. RIP—but perhaps not forever. Fortunately, there’s still a way to access them unofficially, via idk’s Old Island Directory.
Indeed, this was a year of makeovers, as even the Poptropica homepage got a facelift with a bright green play button and new art (that’s gone through multiple changes since then, too). Most noteworthily, Poptropica Worlds is no longer linked to on the homepage, though it can still be accessed here. It seems safe to assume they’ve quietly stopped working on Worlds, considering its lack of updates and the activity happening on the original Pop instead—including a steady stream of ad games and prizes.
Further confirming the theory that Pop Worlds is a thing of the past: in May, Poptropica launched syncing between devices for Original Poptropica on both the computer and mobile app, which was originally the big selling point of Worlds. At least it shows the Creators are serious about keeping Poptropica accessible in this modern age of gaming on the go!
But July came with this year’s hottest new content: Reality TV: Wild Safari Island, a successor to the original Reality TV Island (which was one of the ~30 victims of the purge of old school islands). It didn’t quite live up to the hype of Poptropica’s previous islands, but you can read more on that in our review.
August was a quiet month for Pop, but things picked up again in September with several updates: common rooms finally upgraded to bigger screens and got arcade game stations, Poptropica celebrated its 12th birthday with a strange cake car costume, and Home Island got two more makeovers: fall and Halloween. Suitable store items accompanied the changing of seasons.
Poptropica’s next island adventure was confirmed in October—a remake of Zomberry Island is coming, though later than anticipated, seeing as it was promised for “later this year” and the year is wrapping up. Still, we’ll be waiting for it in 2020!
In November, Home Island saw yet another remodel, casting quite a charm with its magical, wizardly theme! Also that month, Poptropica revamped its island tour pages in a similar vein to the PHB’s Island Guides.
Poptropica wrapped up 2019 by wrapping up some extra presents through its 12 Days of Member Gifts in December, which returned for a second year. Plus, the homepage saw a couple more art pieces to represent Poptropica. And yup, another Home Island overhaul for winter—that’s five remodels this year!
And now, let’s turn to the next half of this rewind…
Last year, we commented on how little the Creators posted on their blog in comparison to the past, and even in comparison to the PHB. Fortunately, things have gotten better since Blue Tooth joined the scene. While the Creators’ Blog has hidden its post counter, here at the PHB we’ve delivered 135 posts to you in 2019, and they’ve been some good ones.
For starters, in early 2019 we took a look at the direction Poptropica has been taking over the previous few years in an op-ed that asked the question, is Poptropica turning into Mocktropica Island? Echoing popular sentiment from the Pop community, we lamented how the lack of new islands to play—core to Poptropica’s identity—has taken a backseat in production priorities to make way for the hyper-focus on visual updates.
On a lighter note, the PHB played around with the idea of a Poptropica fighting game, Smash Bros-style: “Smash! Crackle! POP!” It was just an April Fools’ prank, but we had fun with it—and we hope you did too!
We also brought back our annual Readers’ Survey, and the results were announced in May. Among the stats, we found that PHB readers are getting older (15–18 was the highest age range), many discovered the game in its earlier years (2007 was the top answer), and many of you found the PHB in the past couple of years (2016 led the chart on this one).
The PHB also welcomed a variety of excellent guest posts this year, including: “A tribute to Myron van Buren” by Trusty Leopard, “Unsatisfying Island Endings” by Comical Carrot (which won Best Guest Post of 2019 in our Poppies Awards), “Pop Petition: Make Mighty Action Force Multiplayer” by Beefy Penguin, “What makes a Poptropica island?” by Bony Bones, the four-part ‘My Place in Poptropica’ series “The Chronicles of Shiny Bird” by ShinyB1rd (naturally), among others. Give them a read or a revisit!
Marking the PHB’s 11th birthday in July, we held our annual Poptropica awards event, the Poppies, with a livestream to announce the winners you all voted for and a party to celebrate. Hosting a party on Poptropica was a bit trickier than in the past with Multiverse officially gone from the game after the friends profile update, but MM and idk (our Popular Poptropican of 2019 winner) helped us all find a backdoor way (which unfortunately no longer works) to access the much-missed feature. Anyway, catch the recap of the party and winners here!
We also celebrated our traditional Halloween costume competition, now in its 11th year, with a “Heavenly & Hellish” theme. The winners of PHB’s Halloween Eleven did indeed seem to come from the highest heights and lowest depths, with Jean of Pop’s “Heavenly Healer” and Quick Fang’s “Red-eyed Zombie Carnie” being crowned respectively. Even the PHB staff joined in the fun with costumes of their own! You can find all that and more in the PHB’s recently updated Look Book (i.e. Costumes page), which is now easier to navigate.
Speaking of this community’s creativity, this is also our third year of hosting Community Creations, our monthly series where we feature works of fan art based around a theme. Let’s commemorate that with a gallery of some of this year’s top pieces, with one drawn from each month. (December’s features will be announced on the first of the month, of course.)
And finally, we figured 2019 was a good a time as any to look back on the past decade in Poptropica, so we dug through the archives and gathered up what became The Poptropica Yearbook, accessible via the Pop Plus page.
This PHB project compiled Rewind posts of previous years as well as created new ones for years we hadn’t summarized before, and placed them all in one convenient location for Poptropicans to reminisce. And now, as we close another chapter, this 2019 Rewind will be remembered in its pages, too.
So that’s 2019! We gained some, we lost some, but we press on. To recap:
- What’s new: Pets, friends profile layout (now with sticker wall, photo booth album, message board, mood, background, likes, clubhouse link), store layout, homepage, device syncing on Poptropica Original, official island tour pages, five Home Island makeovers, Snagglemast Island (tutorial), and Reality TV: Wild Safari Island—our only real island of the year, and a rather mediocre one at that.
- What we’ve lost: 29 “Old School Islands,” Multiverse, various friends features (adding by username, island album photos, viewing all friends instead of only about 10, island medallions, pop quizzes), photo booth (so much for the new photo booth album on the friends profiles…), and, while still accessible, Poptropica Worlds has been quietly hidden away and left inactive.
With 2020 bringing about the end of Flash, the Poptropica Creators have been promising that they’re working on rebuilding Poptropica with newer technology that’ll keep the game around for years to come. That’s meant a different pace of updates in the last few years—without many new islands to tell new stories, it feels for some like Poptropica is missing its storytelling magic. But a new year—in fact, a new decade—is on the horizon, and perhaps that means new life for Poptropica. Stick around, and we’ll all see!
✨🎆 Cheers to the next decade! 🥳✨
— 💙 the PHB team —
Slanted Fish, Spotted Dragon, Lucky Joker, Fierce Flyer,
Sporty Boa & Gentle Dolphin