Hey Poptropicans, this is a guest post from HfEvra, who will be discussing ideas for changes to classic islands should they get remade in Haxe. Enjoy!
Greetings, fellow humanoid creatures with unrealistic proportions who lack ears and noses! My name is HfEvra or Mess of a Being (or Messy Knuckle in-game) and I’m here today with a guest post about island stories.
Though the fandom at large seems to be disappointed by the changed gameplay of the first (and currently only) Haxe remaster, Mythology Island, its existence has made me hopeful that perhaps remastered islands could also have story changes in addition to gameplay changes. In this post, I’ll go over some of the story changes I’d like to see in future Haxe remasters. (Warning: Contains spoilers for Mission Atlantis, Super Villain, and Monster Carnival.) Without further ado, let’s begin!
#1: More on the aliens in Mission Atlantis
One of my biggest gripes about Mission Atlantis Island is how little we learn about the aliens of the story. Poptropica had already made an island about potential alien life (Lunar Colony) two years before the release of Mission Atlantis: Episode 3; and despite it being an island I have very mixed feelings about, I firmly believe that the story of Mission Atlantis pales in comparison.
The big reason for this is that in Mission Atlantis, the alien aspect seems to come out of left field with no prior build-up in episodes 1 & 2. It doesn’t seem really well thought-out, and feels a lot like it was just thrown into the story for no other reason than because the writers wanted to subvert the players’ expectations by having it so that an island called Mission Atlantis doesn’t even have an Atlantis.
At least in other mystery islands like Ghost Story and Steamworks, there was constant progress being made with the mystery. The more you played, the more questions were answered as to why everything is the way it is. The answers weren’t as blatant and in your face as islands like Mystery Train, but they were still there.
With Mission Atlantis, there’s barely any time for the alien mystery to be expanded on — we spend the entire second episode trying to find a way inside a mysterious underwater structure, and then spend the entire third episode trying to find a way out of it. We get a small slideshow near the end of the third episode, but even then, that slideshow doesn’t tell us much beyond the reveal that the fortress is of alien origin and has been underwater since before the continents were formed.
I understand that the reveal of the fortress being unrelated to Atlantis is meant to be a twist, but that doesn’t mean we can’t know a little more about the extraterrestrials to whom this vessel belonged. Sure, the artifacts and glyphs from Episode 2 are a start, but there are more ways to scatter clues throughout the story without having them instantly spoil the twist. After all, Super Villain and Mocktropica could leave a trail of clues; I’m certain Mission Atlantis could benefit greatly from it.
#2: The totems in Super Villain
Speaking of Super Villain Island, another story change which I’d love to see in a Haxe remaster is changing what the totems in the villains’ dreams are meant to represent.
The plot of Super Villain Island revolves around helping Dr. Jupiter by removing totems of evil from the minds of some of Poptropica’s most infamous villains in an attempt to bring them back to the light, only to find out that Dr. Jupiter is Zeus in disguise and that he wants to use the power of the totems to take over Poptropica. And though this isn’t necessarily a bad idea for a story, the plot suffers in its treatment of the totems less like a source of evil energy and more like a physical manifestation of a person’s dark side, which can simply be removed from a person’s mind with no immediate consequences.
Not only does Super Villain not at all address the aftermath of the totem removal and the (former) villains’ escape, it glosses over some other pretty important questions: Have these people been completely stripped of any and all evil? Is it possible for them to go back to villainy, or will they remain cleansed for all eternity? And if they truly are good now, what will happen with their former victims? Will they be obligated to forgive the people who have tried to ruin their lives?
Due to how the island immediately shifts all its attention to Zeus following the retrieval of all the totems, none of these questions are given so much as a passing mention. Not even the bonus quest gives us any answers — it’s basically a fetch quest that takes place in Zeus’ dreams. (By the way, is there any reason as to why the player can’t also just take out Zeus’ totem of evil and turn him into an ally? Wouldn’t it be very helpful to have the king of the gods on our side? Just saying.)
#3: The ending of Monster Carnival
Would you look at that? This month’s Island Flash-back actually found its way onto the list! And it’s for good reason.
If there is one thing that almost the entire fandom unanimously agrees on, it’s that the ending of Monster Carnival is extremely problematic due to the way it dehumanizes a man of color who was already treated as a literal monster by the narrative because of an aspect of himself that he had no control over. Although I do not fully agree with the idea that Ringmaster Raven did nothing wrong ever, I am of the opinion that the punishment is far too severe for the crime, especially considering how villains like the Shogun from Red Dragon and Scheherazade from Arabian Nights committed far worse crimes and got away scot-free.
I already made an entire video months ago talking about the messed up implications of Monster Carnival’s story, so I will not re-tread that ground. All I will say is that the way Monster Carnival went out of its way to give Ringmaster Raven one of the saddest backstories in the game and then stripped him of his free will to make him go through even more suffering is not okay. If I could change only one thing about Poptropica, it would be Monster Carnival’s ending.
(Thankfully, it does seem that the creators are aware of the community’s view of Monster Carnival, as evidenced by the Q&A with the CEO back in November. Does this mean that justice will finally be served after seven years? Fingers crossed!)
The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. Interested in writing for the PHB? We’d love to hear from you! 📰✨