Almost to New Year’s, Poptropicans! Congrats on surviving another year with Covid — but this roundup isn’t about the pandemic. We’ve got plenty of variants to talk about with the Pop-demic, so strap in for the PHB’s 2021 Rewind!
Poptropica in 2021 has been unlike any other in years past. With the end of Flash in 2020, they’ve had to rebuild the game on a new engine, Haxe, which has brought about some interesting changes. Let’s pop into it! ⏪
🏝 Islands, Mini Games & Side Quests
With most of Poptropica’s original islands wiped out by the end of Flash, Poptropica began the year on Haxe with a lot to live up to. While fans have been rallying for the return of the old islands since what feels like forever, Poptropica took a mixed route.
The 2020 Dream Island Contest had promised three new islands inspired by fans, and two of them arrived in 2021. Fairytale Island was a short adventure into storybook classics with modern twists, while Goofball Island was a little longer, offering up a wacky world of contrasts between the silly and dull.
But that’s not all. More than islands, side quests and mini games made up most of this year’s adventures, with at least eight: Legendary Swords: Match 3, The Greatest on Home Island, Lost Cubs, Candy Crazed, Amelia’s Mini Quest, Hoptropica: Birthday Edition, Rumpel’s Challenge, and the Baron’s Crusade. And a case could be made for placing Fairytale in this category as well, as this “island” was really made up of three side quests strung together.
For those holding out on the old islands, we finally got something near the end of the year: Mission Atlantis, Ep. 1: Into the Deep and Arabian Nights, Ep. 2: Lair of Thieves were both re-released to Haxe for members. Meanwhile, the PHB has continued amplifying the voices of Poptropicans everywhere with a Pop Petition to bring the old islands back, and even released a can’t-miss music video for the cause.
Got a long list of ex-islands…
🛍 Shops & Customization
This year also brought on a new era for
consumerism shopping fun in Poptropica, with the opening of two rival stores: Amelia’s Adventure Outfitters and the Baron’s Airship, both on a revamped Home Island.
While Amelia’s is a rebrand of the longstanding Poptropica Store, now with weekly updates, the Baron’s is a new concept for Poptropica, carrying items from the lost islands, fan-made costumes, and arriving just for a short stay each month. Plus, their respective side quests have both revealed some interesting lore about their rivalry — but we’ve only begun to scratch that surface.
And while the clubhouse store isn’t new, this year we’ve been getting more items to decorate with and seeing a lot more Clubhouse Tours here on the PHB. There’s also been an increase in clothing items for pets — even matching ones for players!
As for player customization, we got a brand new character customization screen, which helpfully categorizes our collected costumes, allows us to pick from individual parts, and combines the Colorizer (though it also has its share of unhelpful bugs). Sadly, with this update also came a controversial change: the loss of the Costumizer, which allowed players to copy clothes from other characters. RIP. Now, this much-loved feature is only available on PoptropiCon Island, where it’s built into the quest.
In short, there’s no shortage of customization in the new age of Poptropica. Despite the disappointing disappearance of the Costumizer, players have more options than ever to express themselves on Pop — to say nothing of backdoor glitching methods!
🏅 Contests & Social Media
While Poptropica is no stranger to contests, 2021 seems to have hosted their biggest bunch of them yet, with just about one for every month. This year Pop hosted the Fairy Fan Art Challenge (winners here), Fairytale Fanfic Challenge (read the winning entries here), monthly costume contests which began in May (which adds up to 7), Coloring Creation Challenge (collection of chosen art here), and Goofy Clubhouse Challenge (winners here), for a total of 11 official contests.
We didn’t quite get to that level here on the PHB, but we did have fun hosting about six contests: three rounds of Guess That Poptropican (check out rounds 1, 2, 3, and answers to rounds 1, 2, 3 here), Pop the Difference: Round 4, and our 13th Halloween Costume Contest: Grim & Whimsical (winners here).
Poptropica has also been making use of social media to promote their contests and other shenanigans. Speaking of which, their activity has been popping off, much more than in the past several years combined.
Plus, the Pop Creators’ Blog opened up calls for guest writing, including among them posts from various PHB staff: Purple Paw, Popsonas and an interview with Slanted Fish, plus Gentle Dolphin’s Declassified Costume Creation Guide, to name a few. Great way to share our passions with more Poptropicans, though we also take guest posts here on the PHB!
Pop also opened a TikTok account in April 2021, posting short clips that often bank on nostalgia of the game’s glory days as well as highlighting newer content, which has seen some success in numbers. On Instagram, they now often comment on posts of Poptropica fan art, featuring tons on their story. They also had a moment of going viral on Twitter in May, with #Poptropica trending for about a day. It’s been a busy year!
🤩 More You Don’t Want to Miss
Behind Poptropica’s persistence are all the fans who both celebrate and critique the game, and our roundup of the year wouldn’t be complete without sharing some highlights from the fandom.
Here on the PHB, we’ve shared some standout posts over the year (including guest posts!), and we’re always updating our PHB’s Greatest Posts collection. Here are some great reads you’ll want to make time for:
- 🧚 Fairytale Island: A storybook of many pop culture references
- 🪲 Inside look at Dream Island winners: Goofball and Secret of the Jade Scarab
- 😴 Interpreting the Main Four’s Dreams series: Dr. Hare, Captain Crawfish, Black Widow
- 🎤 Interview with the Poptropica Creators: the creative process of making a game
- 🏝 Island Flash-backs for Ghost Story, Super Villain, Poptropolis Games, Counterfeit, Twisted Thicket and Skullduggery, Astro-Knights, Wild West, Monster Carnival
- 🧢 Merch reviews for a Sticker Haul, Vintage Bandana, Time Tangled Wall Clock, Funny Bunny Hat, Dr. Hare Button, Shark Boy Plush
- 🖼 Mood boards bring a POP of color
- 🎥 PHB’s Picks: Poptropica Month 2021 (Pop fan videos)
- 🪙 Pop 5: Ways to Earn Credits on Poptropica
- 🔦 Pop Protip: Play the old islands with the mobile app and Flashpoint
- 🪄 Popspiracy: The Magic Girl
- 💖 Poptropica Dating Sim (and follow-up)
- 🏃 Speedrunning Poptropica Islands
- 🏳️🌈 The ABCs of LGBT with the PHB
- ⚡️ The Villain Saga (fanfiction series by MaryannTheConqueror)
In addition to all the fantastic content above, we also can’t miss spotlighting our mini-series analyzing the words of former Poptropica head Jess Brallier, who in June released a series on his personal blog about his experiences building the game’s brand for over a decade through ups and downs. Read it in order:
- Pop Creator Jess Brallier spills on “storytelling, games, and Poptropica”
- The biggest kids’ site hosts Big Nate and more greats, as told by Jess Brallier
- Poptropica’s production problems and almost an animated series
- Poptropica’s Mocktropica story: how new management undercut its own game
We’re also continuously impressed by all the fan art, with our monthly Community Creations series now rounding off its 5th year. Keep up the amazing work!
Plus, this year we introduced our monthly membership giveaways, bringing the premium Pop experience to kids who might not otherwise have gotten the opportunity. One of our ways of spreading joy!
Throughout the year, we’ve also hosted a few parties: the PHC Open House in April, Pride Palooza in June, Poppies fan awards in July, and a Grapple-Pap Party in December. It’s always fun to get together and game on — plus, our PHC Discord server is always open! 🎉
Thus concludes the first calendar year away from Flash! It’s certainly been quite the year for Poptropica on Haxe, with an unusual mix of dream islands, side quests, and more propelling a new generation of gaming and storytelling for Poptropica. Did it live up to your hopes and dreams? Regardless, let’s give it time to grow.
Looking ahead to 2022, we’re excitedly anticipating Secret of the Jade Scarab Island, the final winner of the 2020 Dream Island Contest. Thanks for reading this round-up, and pop back over here next year! 🥳
~ 💙 the Poptropica Help Blog
✏️ P.S. While you’re here, sign the Poptropica Yearbook by leaving a comment!