PHB Specials, Pop Petitions

Pop Petition: Bring the old islands back

It’s a familiar cry. Bring the old islands back to Poptropica! Ever since a huge chunk of islands went off the map due to technical incompatibility, Poptropicans everywhere have been calling for their return, including here on the PHB. But it’s been years, and gone they continue to be.

So let’s talk about that. The Poptropica Creators have no doubt heard the cries and have even promised to find ways to bring back the classics. But as time goes by, with few of the originals to show for it, players are getting restless. From the PHB, here’s our call to the Pop Creators, on behalf of nostalgic fans everywhere: here’s what it takes to keep the spirit of Poptropica alive and well.

🏝 Know and celebrate the old islands

The Poptropica map filled with islands (image: idk)

Poptropica used to have over 40 original islands, each a world filled with stories to explore. With the Flash-to-Haxe transition, we’re now down to about 10, and several are incomplete episodic adventures.

And the islands that Poptropica has put out in the past several years have shifted in style of gameplay — there’s a lot more handholding and a lot less exploring. So first things first, Poptropica needs to remember what made the old islands so special to so many of our childhoods.

Old Poptropica islands used the medium of interactive gaming to tell compelling stories to the kids who played them. But the newer islands seem to have one without the other: Reality TV: Wild Safari was all games, no story; while Fairytale Island gave us fun tales but without much participation in them from the player. A really successful island, like Mystery Train, manages to do both: puzzles and narrative together.

The Poptropica of the past several years have shown us that the Creators are straying further away from this vision of what made Poptropica so loved before. Players have compared this worrying trend to Mocktropica Island, the parody turned reality. More recently, a Creator’s clueless comment on Instagram revealed a lack of knowledge about Betty Jetty, a beloved character from an old island, which ultimately speaks to a lack of awareness for iconic parts of their own game.

So please, Poptropica Creators, revisit those old islands and experience their magic. Know the lore of the Poptropica worlds we grew up with, and let that intoxicating blend of gaming and storytelling guide you into making the next great island adventure.

FYI: There are ways to play the old islands, and you can always visit the PHB’s Island Guides to learn more about them! 🏝

⌛️ Slow down on the secondary features

While Poptropica hasn’t been pushing out their A-game in islands lately, we have been getting a lot of funky new features (and losing quite a few others, but we digress). Part of that is keeping up with today’s gaming tech needs with the Flash-to-Haxe transition, but all this focus on new, not-island stuff has made Poptropicans wonder what it’s all for.

Sure, it’s fun to see Home Island get a seasonal makeover or try on a new costume from the store. But why are the Creators so obsessed with redesigning Home Island? What’s with all the pop-up screens telling you what to do, or the remaking of features like the menu that were fine the way they were? Even assuming that these updates are well received, they should not be the main focus—they’re secondary aspects.

All the efforts spent in making these updates is time taken away from preserving the spirit of Poptropica through the old islands. Every inconsequential makeover or new pet item feels, to the nostalgic player, like valuable time that could have gone towards getting closer to bringing the old islands back. Which brings us to the last point…

⏩ Port the old islands to Haxe

Sounds obvious and probably easier said than done, but that’s really what a lot of players are looking for right now. Poptropica owns all that content, and the fanbase is eager to play them, so what’s the holdup?

When asked in late 2020 about whether 2021 holds new islands or the return of old ones, the Poptropica CEO answered:

We’re working on a mix of both, plus some remasters of the old islands. We’re also looking at ways to allow players to access the old islands once Flash isn’t widely supported anymore.

Abhi Arya, Poptropica CEO

Remasters are all well and good (well, unless they turn out watered-down like the remastered Mythology Island), but this reinventing could be one reason things are taking a while. But while we wait for those, what about giving us the old islands in their original form? That still takes work, but presumably less work than rewriting old islands.

Hut and Stuff: Quit your jibber jabber.

From that same Q&A:

We know how much the Poptropica you grew up with means to you and want to make sure you can always play that version.

Natalie Shahmiri, Poptropica general manager

Poptropica has heard and promised, but we’ve been waiting a while. It’s been 7 months since that promise in our Q&A with them, nearly 2 years since the old islands vanished from the map, and coming up on 5 years if we’re counting from Poptropica’s first attempts at rebuilding itself for an era without Flash via the now-defunct Poptropica Worlds. An update would be nice. More old islands would be even better. 💙

What say you, Poptropicans? Whether you’re a new or old player, share your thoughts in the comments so the Creators can hear more voices on how fans feel about the state of the game today!

Explore, collect, compete!

the Poptropica Help Blog

19 thoughts on “Pop Petition: Bring the old islands back”

      1. I doubt it would be technologically possible unless they used something like Flashpoint, and if they remade them from the ground up there would likely be many changes we would dislike. And with their current resources, it would be impossible to remake them quickly. (I’m pretty sure only one employee focuses on this game with the rest working for all of Sandbox).

      2. Porting at least the newer old islands (those made in AS3, also sometimes called SUIs) to Haxe is not impossible — we’ve already gotten a few like Time Tangled and Timmy Failure. As for older (AS2) islands, that’s probably harder, but they own the content and know how to make some form of an island (see Fairytale) — so putting those together is just a matter of time and resources. With all the work it takes to create Poptropica, I don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s all the work of one person — they’ve even said they’re a small team.

  1. I am new to poptropica but I did get to play the old islands very breifly. Please bring the old islands back! They were really good and a lot of fun to play and now it is super difficult to even access them!

  2. I feel like the current Poptropica is a shell of its former self. And I’m also worried about the Poptropica team’s idea of ‘remastering ‘. If making the islands easier and taking out several puzzles and key locations that made the Old Islands more challenging and interesting (as they did with the Haxe version of Mythology Island) is okay to them, that is very concerning. And I feel very fortunate to have experienced and beaten all of the Old Islands as a veteran player. I feel that newer players are missing out on so much of what made Poptropica so special and iconic in the first place. And finally, I feel that beating all the Old Islands at least once should be a prerequisite to be able to work on the game , as it would help the current team understand what makes the Old Islands so special for people, as well as helping them understand the lore and characters better.

    1. That last part about making playing the old islands a prerequisite to being a Pop Creator is an interesting thought. That might be asking a lot from a potential job candidate, but once they’re hired, they definitely should spend some time getting familiar with the world/brand they’re working with—including the stories of the old islands!

  3. Creators, Please bring back the islands and allow us to explore them and actually play around on them. Please don’t hand hold the players on the island and let us figure out the goals and tasks on the island by ourselves.

    1. Yup! I’d add that there’s a fine balance between saying too much and too little. Some parts of old Poptropica may have confused young players who didn’t know what to do, or that they were supposed to be doing anything at all, but part of the fun is figuring things out.

  4. Thank you! I feel like Poptropica is now focusing on younger generations who are now joining and forgetting that some of the older players are maybe in their teens or twenties (but not all), and they’re trying to make the game more playable for the younger, newer kids, because they believe all the new players are, like, five,but that means they’re making it easier for the people that know what Poptropica really is.
    And yes, it is taking a while! They promise they’re working on bringing old islands back, but their only recent updates are side-quests and changing things that we were fine with. That’s another problem! They’re ignoring my emails about the buggy glitches (not the helpful kind), but they change what I really like. I’ve been petitioning them, but I feel like I’m not being listened to. 😐

    1. It’s okay that Poptropica focuses on a younger audience, as that’s always been their goal, but it’s an issue if even those younger kids (6–10 years old) find the newer stuff is pretty easy. Not every island has to be hard, but the older islands definitely had more depth in storytelling and challenge in gameplay that gave Poptropica appeal even as kids grew older. (And the generation of teens and young adults who grew up with Poptropica definitely holds untapped potential for Pop’s future development!)

  5. It does very much bother me the route Poptropica is following, as it has been resembling a cashgrab children’s game instead of a unique medium of storytelling. The reason the game has held onto me for so long is because of how mature it was for its audience and the immersive gameplay– I know it was a Flash game, but it was a dang good one! It’s very obvious there’s no love for the original game and its stories and continuity. Dr. Hare has become more of a symbol than a character, and is plastered everywhere for an easy way to make low effort content. It’s very disappointing as original Poptropica lead me to find my dreams and into many interests I never thought I’d have, and that seems to be the case with many older, longtime players. The more they make the game a hollow shell of its former self the less successful they’ll be. Membership doesn’t even have perks anymore, really. It’s alienating the people who really care about the game in exchange for some pocket change. Very sad to see this turn and have watched the decline for the past several years.

    1. Thanks for sharing those thoughts, Popular Wolf. It’s definitely true that Poptropica has shaped a generation of creatives, and it’s been a joy to witness over many years in the fandom. Sure Poptropica needs cash to survive, but it would make more sense to gain that through offering genuine value.

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