Jade Scarab Island, Reviews

PHB Review: Jade Scarab Island 🪲

Curbed by the curse? Check out our Jade Scarab Island Guide.

You you you! Yes you, adventurer! Have you played Jade Scarab Island yet? The PHB team has had some time to dig in and digest, and now we’re here to share our thoughts with you about this final Dream Island, which released in late April. Beware: spoilers lie ahead!


Storyline & Characters

Soon after Jade Scarab Island was announced as a winner of the Dream Island contest last year, the PHB shared an inside look from Girl Power, the Poptropican who designed the island. Looking back at her original ideas, it’s interesting to compare them to the real thing.

Girl Power’s submission contains extra details not found in the game, particularly in regard to names. This includes: Claira the curator, King Khnurn’s tomb (“reborn sun” in Egyptian), and the village of Iteru (“river” in Egyptian) — in Poptropica, they were all nameless.

However, the game is faithful to some of her other ideas, like the merchant and Howard Diggory. Other ideas are modified — instead of errands of fishing and translating, we’re boosting a camel business and locating a missing excavator. We’re not opposed to the Pop Creators taking creative liberties, but for an island that felt a bit short in playtime, it could have benefitted from more fleshing out of details.

Still, there were lots of fun characters and dialogue. We especially loved the player’s self-aware blimp remark, the busy businessman who rejects your flirting, and of course, the adorable little cat (although that goddess transformation came out of nowhere and left too soon!). 🐱

The reveal and defeat of the villain, the digsite foreman, felt abrupt and anticlimactic. He’s surly throughout the island, so it’s not much of a surprise when he swoops in to attack. However, his identity (though not expression) was part of Girl Power’s plan — she had named the foreman Awantagi (“deceitful person” in Egyptian). We don’t get much time to face him, either: a quick cutscene and it’s all over. Overall, the story is intriguing, but we just wish we could engage with it longer.


Gameplay

At times, the game can run rather slowly, and some players have reported getting locked in scenes. Hopefully the Creators can iron out these glitches soon, but in the meantime if you find yourself stuck somehow, you can restart the island from the map.

When things work, though, exploring Jade Scarab does feel like a classic OG island, with less hand-holding than most of the other new islands. Scanning the desert by flying with the falcon definitely gave us nostalgic vibes for similar mechanics on old islands like Wild West and Cryptids! 🦅

Perhaps the most challenging part of Jade Scarab is the merkhet puzzle. Even with the instructions and animated demonstration, players have been confused about the task at hand. (Our guide can help!) Its uniqueness makes this part interesting, but it also leaves us without much frame of reference for what we’re supposed to do.

Still, other parts struck a decent balance between fun and frustrating. Whether we were making charcoal rubbings or chasing a cat, it was exciting to make discoveries, and rewarding to figure things out.


Audio & Visuals

We love the looks and listens for Jade Scarab, but at the same time, they don’t feel new. Many of the soundtracks are from Arabian Nights Island, including this “Genie Dance” tune. (Hear more on our Pop Music page!)

The desert marketplace and tomb setting feels similar to Arabian Nights, while the ancient Egyptian aesthetics were also a feature of Nabooti Island. Technically, Jade Scarab is a new story with new art, but it doesn’t really break barriers in the Poptropica canon. 🚜

That being said, there are still many cool details to enjoy, like the mix of ancient and modern culture (including traffic honks!), hijab-wearing bystanders, and even Rumpelstiltskin on a ring float.


Verdict

With its fun but short storyline, classic island vibes, and neat but derivative stylings, Jade Scarab Island feels like a good-but-not-great addition to the map. Out of five we’d give this Egyptian expedition…

3.5 out of 5 Bastet idols. Though this excavation vacation comes with its share of enjoyable discoveries, it ultimately comes up short in its potential to dig deeper. Let’s hope Poptropica breaks that curse soon!

There’s so much more to unpack — head over to the trivia section of our Jade Scarab Island Guide to see what other details you may have missed!

With that, all three Dream Islands from the 2020 contest are done and dusted! Which one was your fave: Fairytale, Goofball, or Jade Scarab? 🏝 Next up, we’re looking forward to the return of some old islands to Steam—and maybe bigger adventures on Poptropica, too? 👉👈


Thanks for reading our review of Jade Scarab Island! Do you agree with our verdict? Share your opinions in the comments below!

— 🚜 the Poptropica Help Bloggers 🪲 —

2 thoughts on “PHB Review: Jade Scarab Island 🪲”

  1. I completely agree with almost everything you said. I didn’t mind the short length or underdeveloped characters as it was still pretty fun to play. And the difficulty was enjoyable. Most of my complaints are just nitpicks. It definitely could have been fleshed out into a truly great island, though.

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