Getting lost in the story? Check out our Fairytale Island Guide.
Gather round, Poptropicans, and let’s recall the tale of Fairytale Island…
Once upon a time (or actually, twice), the overlords at Poptropica held a Design Your Dream Island Contest. One of the winning ideas was Fairytale Island by Perfect Crab, and as promised for the prize, the island would be made into the game. Now, in April 2021, it’s here!
It’s been a hot
minute year or so since the last real island (and even longer if you’re not counting the decided disappointment of Reality TV: Wild Safari), so when we heard about this one, we were pretty excited. Fairytale is the first of the 2020 Dream Island winners and the first original island on Haxe. Does it live up to the hype?
Now that we’ve had a chance to play it (and if you haven’t yet, play it before reading this!), we’re here to share our impressions. Turn the page with us, and let’s get into it! Be warned: This review contains spoilers.
Storyline & Characters
The tale goes like this: you arrive on the island to find out the fairytales have had their happy endings stolen, and it’s up to you to recover them. Fairytale Island takes three classic stories—Cinderella, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood—and brings some delightful twists to each one through both plot and characters.
One of the most iconic characters from the island has to be Cinderella. While taking inspiration from the original story, Poptropica also makes this character their own in her surprising switch from dainty damsel in distress to flaming punk rock Cinder, the star of the ball (and what a fitting nickname!). And, in a win for more minority representation, Poptropica has also taken a character traditionally depicted as white and created her Black and beautiful.
Another character who enchantingly subverts expectations in this island is Snow White. We’re tasked with finding her a true love’s kiss to wake her up—so far, classic fairytale concept—but it turns out her heart’s with animals, not Prince Charming! After a goat’s kiss rouses her, she goes off to pursue her dream career of becoming a veterinarian. We can even see her in vet scrubs at the island’s happily ever after.
Fairytale Island plays host to various other interesting characters that we also have to mention here. We love Red Riding Hood for its fun twist on a girl in a red cap who doesn’t look traditionally feminine and works a thankless job in modern-style food delivery, the adorable little dwarves in a trench coat who just want to be taken seriously, and the snarky talking pig who mocks your Poptropican’s call to save the day.
But other characters are a little more strange. Perhaps the most cursed of them is the huntsman, who tried to lure the wolf into eating the grandma, all in a bid to, apparently, meet girls. (??!!!) But even he found a willing date in the end with Cinder. Sweet, or a total red flag?
Amelia from Home Island is also fairly involved in the story, which is interesting. But what in the world is she thinking, patting us on the back when there’s a creepy magic dude on the loose?? The dialogue seems to set the stage for future episodes in Fairytale Island, but nothing we’ve seen officially confirms this. If this is The End, it’s not very satisfying!
Which brings us to a major issue in this storyline: it ends on an odd cliffhanger. We’re not quite sure what Rumplestiltskin is up to, and then there’s the crying prince, who’s left without a happy ending.
The gameplay, unfortunately, is where this island shines least. Fairytale Island is basically comprised of a disjointed series of three mini-quests that didn’t really weave into each other. (They were literally labeled side-quests, despite each being required to fulfill the main storyline.)
There wasn’t much of a challenge offered throughout the island—it was fairly easy to click around for the right kiss for Snow White, and even the obstacle mountain we climbed with Cinderella on our backs didn’t have the same struggle of previous plays of Poptropica parkour, though at least it was fun. The most challenging aspect was the dark forest maze, and this at least provided a decent degree of difficulty—many players reported taking a while to find the real cabin! That sort of complexity could have been applied to the rest of the island, too.
The lack of challenge wasn’t the only thing that made Fairytale feel different from the classic Poptropica experience. As with other recent islands like Reality TV: Wild Safari, at no point in the quest did we collect items to add to our inventory to use later in the story. Not even the teased lipstick from Rumplestiltskin was used anywhere!
Fairytale could have brought on more exploratory elements like with the old islands, such as having the player participate more through dialogue options and allowing the player to click around more of the scenes instead of being teleported out of them as soon as each part was done. Maybe, for example, we would’ve liked to mingle with the guests at Cinderella’s ball instead of being whisked away almost immediately! And what about a boss battle when we finally face Rumple?
Audio & Visuals
When it comes to the sounds and sights, Fairytale makes the mark. The audio we hear as we play through this island is nothing new, but it all helps set the mood, from the walking stomps to the mighty slapping of the mountain saplings to the spooky background music of the woods.
As we make our way through the island, we get to enjoy some fun animations and clickable interactive parts, which does feel like classic Poptropica. Highlights include the unicorn that barfs purple, the strumming of the lyre, and the pig throwing bricks.
And as with many Poptropica islands, the scenery is stunning. Check out these postcard-perfect shots from all over the Fairytale kingdom:
Considering all of the above, from storyline and characters, to gameplay, to audio and visuals, out of five we’d give Fairytale…
…3 out of 5 goat kisses. While the island’s lack of challenge felt almost like hand-holding the player more than allowing us to explore, Fairytale redeems itself with interesting new takes on classic tales that give the story some depth — it’s just unfortunately unclear how this fable ends.
The island’s also got some gorgeous graphics, including some amusing animations and fascinating character designs that are sure to be the subject of future fan art. In fact, it’s already inspired some on the PHC!
Guess it’s a semi-happy ending for Fairytale Island. Will there be more to come? Time will tell. In the meantime, we look forward to the other Dream Island winners, Goofball and Secret of the Jade Scarab!
Thanks for reading our review of Fairytale Island! Do you agree with our verdict? Share your opinions in the comments below!
— 🧚♂️ the PHB team 🧚♂️ —