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.
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.
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 🪲 —
5 thoughts on “PHB Review: Jade Scarab Island 🪲”
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.
Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, it was still a pretty good island overall, and leaving us wanting more. 🙂
I do agree with you on; “It felt a bit short on playtime.” This island was rather short in my opinion and is probably one of the islands somebody should play when they are just starting out on Poptropica. Nonetheless, still a pretty fun island. My favorite part was when we flew around as the bird looking for the lost digger. I was really confused at first with the merkhets, but once I understood them, I blew past that part on my second time playing the island. A really fun island indeed, just needed a few more elements, then it would probably be a better overall island. So yea, not bad.
Btw, Goofball Island was my favorite island from the 2020 dream island contest. It had a very fun and interesting plot. I loved how Detective Gram turned out to be Dr. Blandston. I also liked how Bokoso would tell you really lame jokes. Jade Scarab Island was probably my second favorite because I like ancient Egypt, and mainly because I did not like Fairytale Island as much as the other two. What was your favorite Island from the dream island contest?
Goofball and Jade Scarab were both pretty cool, but could benefit from having more to explore (Fairytale too, but it was much further off). We actually rated Goofball slightly higher than Jade Scarab since it played with more unique ideas (like movement-based music and getting to choose your ending) — check out the review here. Personally though, I’m more partial to the Egyptian mythology themes of Jade Scarab than the contrasting styles of Goofball.