Blast from the Past, Store

Get in Character with Bucket Hats 👒

Hey Poptropicans, there’s a new store update at Adventure Outfitters, and bucket hats are in! With the new Sandy Beach costume, you can match with your pet by getting them a Bucket Hat — or Blue Shades to go with last week’s Water Battle outfit!

Summer looks also include a Lifeguard vest for pets and the return of the Boho Chic for members. See the full stock on the Creators’ Blog »


In other news, as you’re moving about Poptropica, you may notice a new sidebar ad from Infoplease which links to a Pop quiz of Pop characters! It’s not clear if the Pop Creators made this or if they’re just linking to anonymous fan-made content, but either way, it’s a fun little game that tests if you can name 10 classic Poptropica characters. Play it here »

That’s all for now, but we’ll have more news in other posts! Remember to vote in the Poppies if you haven’t already, and stay tuned for our guide to the new ad island. Keep on popping on!

~🐠

Blast from the Past, Creators' Blog Guest Posts, Home Island, Monkey Wrench Island

A history of Home Island and mystery (and return) of Monkey Wrench 🐵🏠

Hey Poptropicans! You’re familiar with Home Island, the perennial launchpad of your Poptropica adventures (and home to a brand new store interior!), but are you aware of its storied past?

An early iteration of Home Island in 2016. Yes, before DJ Saturday Nite was whitewashed, she dyed her hair blonde. Welcome to Poptropica.

This week on the Poptropica Creators’ Blog, guest writer Invisible Ring lays out a history of Home Island and how it connects to the disappearance of Monkey Wrench Island, released in 2016 as a tutorial for first-time players. Her main theory is that, as Home Island kept changing with seasonal makeovers, the connection to Monkey Wrench must have gotten cut off. “How could Amelia land her airplane on Home Island if Home Island won’t stay still?

Monumental: You finally made a monkey out of me.

Ring also gives a shout-out to “Monkey Wrench posts on the PHB” which inspired her to contact the Pop Creators about bringing the island back. (One such post: Purple Paw’s Pop Petition: Bring Monkey Wrench back.) In response, the Creators have confirmed a return for Monkey Wrench, although no dates are set yet.

As for Home Island’s history, in addition to Ring’s guest post, the PHB has captured its evolving stories over the years as well. Before 2015, there was no Home Island — when you logged in, you’d find yourself wherever you last left off on whatever island you were on. Since its release (back when it was briefly known as Hub Island), it’s gone through a lot of cosmetic and functional changes in the past five years.

Did you know that in the first Home Island, you had to find a wrench for Amelia Earhart and medallion shards for an explorer, which was later disbanded into the separate islands of Snagglemast and Monkey Wrench? Anyway, we went through our archives and pieced together some pics from over the years! Do you remember these scenes?

Enjoyed the throwback? There’s much more in the PHB archives!

Anyway, how do you feel about Home Island? What changes do you want to see on it, or have you had enough of its constant facelifts? Do you miss Monkey Wrench, or is Snagglemast superior? Share your thoughts in the comments, and pop on, Poptropicans! ✌️

~🐠

Blast from the Past

2020 Poptropica Rewind: Haxe, the vaccine for our Flash-backs 💉💥

Happy New Year’s Eve, Poptropicans. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to take a look back on this strange and eventful year.

These unprecedented times will be remembered in human history for sure — but our focus is on Poptropica as it faces the inevitable end of Flash, the game’s engine for over a decade. Let’s hit Rewind! ⏪

2020 Poptropica Rewind

(You might be interested in taking a look back on Poptropica’s previous years, too. We’ve got just the thing over on our Yearbook page!)

This Rewind has two sides: Poptropica, and the PHB & Community. Tune in to both sides of the disc for a nostalgic dive into both the game’s updates and the fandom’s activities over the past 366 days!


🎈 Poptropica 💥

At the beginning of this year in January, when the world was largely pre-Covid (remember those days?), Poptropica surprised us with what would be the first of many nostalgic kicks: bringing back the Costume Design Contest, which first occurred in 2016–2017. 👩‍🎤 The winner of this contest was Instagram user @bianca_donka’s “Lightning Wielder” costume, which made it into the game in February. ⚡️

Also in February, Poptropica gave a much-needed State of the Game address on the official blog where they addressed various player concerns about what would happen to Poptropica after Flash is gone. 💥❓ Poptropica assured players that the game would go on (and you can read the PHB’s analysis here). They also began rolling out Poptropica’s Haxe build, the newer alternative to the much older Flash engine.

In March, a new pop-up login screen, well, popped up. But a much bigger change to Poptropica’s home screen happened in April, when seven new default characters showed up in a brand-new “Pick a Character” screen! 👨‍🎤👩‍🎤 By that point, anyone making a new account would automatically be playing in Haxe, but logging into a pre-Haxe account still took you to Flash. This was an era of two Poptropicas: Flash, with over a decade’s worth of content; and brand-new Haxe, with just a mere few islands as Poptropica slowly works to port them over.

In the meantime, Poptropica continued rolling out cosmetic updates, with a new Husky pet for members and the introduction of weekly (instead of monthly) store rotations for all. ✨ Poptropica also came up with their most ambitious ad yet: American Girl: Joss’s Island, an “island” on the map with various rooms, games, and prizes.

Haxe players gained their first edge over Flash players in May with the introduction of Quippy, a cute little droid who operates a store selling different themed goods in each common room. 🤖 And soon, summer arrived on Home Island, first on Flash and then on Haxe, where the popular feature of player clubhouses made it over as well. 🏠

June brought a major game-changer for nostalgic players: classic islands were back! 🏝 But only for members, because with the old Flash technology, Poptropica’s servers couldn’t handle everyone trying to access them at once. Also, the Haxe build continued to receive some small updates, some short-lived, like a screen where you get to pick your character’s name and a tutorial pop-up screen.

Another indication of island porting progress appeared on the Haxe map in July with the arrival of Escape From Pelican Rock Island for members. 👮‍♂️ Haxe also got some other updates: new loading screens (mostly promoting membership), a quest roadmap for 24 Carrot (oddly, the only island to get one), a clubhouse starter pack for newbies, and even NPCs walking around on Home Island. But at least one update was met with negative reviews: the removal of the Costumizer (clothing grab feature) nearly everywhere in the game. 🚫👕

Coming up on the heels of that disappointment in August and September was the oddity that was Paradise Island. 🏝 This saga began with some promising sneak peeks of “Poptropica Airways,” but once some players gained access to this day-by-day feature, the feedback proved disastrous. The “island,” which players have called an inferior version of Animal Crossing, stopped updating after day 8, with no word from the Creators ever officially announcing the feature.

But August did bring a more welcome update with a massive import of clubhouse decor, and we do mean massive, with nearly 200 items for your home, most of which were completely new. At least the Creators are well on their way in creating options for home customization for Poptropica’s future in Haxe! 🏡

As time went on, the island porting continued to see progress, and in September, Time Tangled Island made it into Haxe for members. 🕰 It was also Poptropica’s birthday month, and the Creators celebrated 13 years of Poptropica with a birthday rocket item 🚀 as well as a #ThanksKinney campaign, wherein Poptropicans were invited to send in their favorite memories of the game. The Creators would share some with Jeff Kinney, Poptropica’s founder and author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We never heard back from him, but let’s hope he liked them!

A new craze took over the Poptropica fandom in the middle of the month: Dr. Beev of Mocktropica trash can fame. 🐿️ We’ll share more about this beloved and enigmatic character in the second half of this Rewind, but to give a couple highlights from Poptropica’s side: the Beev made his first and only appearance as a real NPC in the game and the Creators even hosted a fan art contest for the character on Instagram.

At the heels of an eventful month came a sequel to rival Poptropica’s most ambitious advertising: American Girl: Courtney’s Island. Like Joss’ Island, Courtney’s was filled with games and prizes, this time with an ’80s theme. 😎 Ads in October weren’t quite so creative, though: video ads in-between scenes made a comeback, despite the criticism Poptropica received for this feature back in 2014.

But October did bring better things, like Zomberry Hero, the first of many limited time special events on Haxe (check out the behind-the-scenes, too!). 🧟‍♂️ A couple promising old-but-renewed features were teased, too: an update to the friends page and new merch, with an open invitation for fan ideas. 🧢 Plus, Poptropica gave players some assurance that their Flash accounts would get to keep their stuff even after Flash is no longer supported by the end of the year.

A major Pop drop landed in November: a remastered version of Mythology Island for Haxe (for all, not just members!), and fans were quick to notice the many challenges from the old version gone in the new. 🌩 Perhaps taking that into consideration, the Creators soon released another Flash classic on Haxe, this time without alterations: Arabian Nights, Ep. 1. 🏜

Also in November, a limited time Fall Festival came to town, offering a giant outdoor common room with fun fair prizes to collect. 🍁 A new message system, which first debuted in the aforementioned Paradise Island, was one place where players could now find updates. ✉️

Plus, the teased friends page for Haxe arrived in beta, the merch store opened on Zazzle (or rather, re-opened, since it was active from 2009–2012), and the long-awaited Design Your Dream Island Contest (nudged by fans) returned with a new submission form for fans to send in their island ideas (and other fan mail) to the Creators. 🏝

December began with 12 Days of Member Gifts, a Poptropica tradition since 2018, with both warm and cool prizes like the Snowflake Costume. ❄️🎁 A fun little limited-time mini-game hopped its way over to the map: Hoptropica, an 8-bit world of jumping with Drs. Beev and Hare. 🐰

Amidst the holiday season, Poptropica introduced a new Christmas/winter-inspired holiday: Grapple-Pap! 🎄🎁 For the first time in forever, Poptropicans got to experience a new storyline with new characters and places through the short and sweet Grapple-Pap Gift side-quest. Poor Clareta, but hey, let’s remember that we can choose to find a spark of joy even in the coldest times. Happy Grapple-Pap!

But wait, there’s more! With only days to go until the end of Flash, the great migration of getting all Flash accounts over to Haxe officially happened. ⏩ December 28 was also a big day for one more reason: Fairy Tale Island was announced as a winner of the Design Your Dream Island Contest, making it the one of the next fan-inspired Poptropica islands to be added to the game. 🏝 And that’s islands, plural, because with hundreds of entries to pick from, Poptropica decided to go with multiple winners! As of this posting, the other winners haven’t yet been revealed, though they did promise they’d be announcing them this week. Guess we’ll find out next year… in 2021!

Now let’s flip over the disc to rewind and see what 2020 had in store for the Poptropica Help Blog and its surrounding community…


💙 PHB & Community 🌎

We couldn’t have predicted that a pandemic would take over the world in 2020, but we did foresee a different tragedy: the end of Adobe Flash.

In January, we gathered all that we knew about Poptropica’s transition away from Flash into an in-depth look at Preserving Poptropica post-Flash, and again in February after Poptropica released some more info on the topic. 💥 We also added Game Guides for the newer, single-player arcade games Blaster AttackCrash-n-Bash, and Poptastic. Better late than never! What’s your high score?

In March, with Covid-19 spreading fast all over the world and people sheltering in place, the PHB compiled a list of Poptropica things to do while in quarantine. Topping that list was revisiting the prescient Virus Hunter Island, released in 2013 years before… all this. 😷🦠 We also invited all of you to participate in our annual PHB Readers’ Survey.

We kicked off April with the intriguing idea of a PHB Flash Experience, a Flash game starring our boy Addo B. Flash. Spoiler alert: April Fools! ⚡️ While we were just joking around, though, Poptropica made a rare appearance on Twitter with a puzzling endorsement of Joe Biden for U.S. president, a comical mis-tweet which has since been pulled. 🐦

May was a quiet month besides our usual reporting, but in June, we kept this blog busy connecting with the community: giving a commencement address to the graduating (and other) Poptropicans of 2020 🎓, highlighting YouTubers creating unique Poptropica content 📹, and releasing the results of our PHB Readers’ Survey. 📊

July is always a big month here on the PHB as we celebrate the Poppies, our annual Poptropica fan awards, along with the blog’s birthday (12 this year!). 🏆 The event also gave way to Dr. Beev’s unexpected rise to fame. Later, we checked in again on the post-Flash Poptropica situation.

We kept the party rolling in August with the return of the PHB’s Tribal Tournament, a massive month-long extravaganza of fan-run Poptropica Olympics last held in 2016. Congrats again to the Black Flags for winning the gold! 🏴🏅 The competitive spirit got to Poptropica, too, in the unexpected form of a second controversial tweet where they gloated about overtaking games like Animal Jam in the iOS App Store rankings. The head of Animal Jam himself got in on the heat, and again, Poptropica’s tweet was soon deleted.

Fans went all in for Poptropica’s birthday in September with Poptropica Month, a month of making, watching, and sharing Poptropica videos headed up by the Dimension Bros on YouTube. Even the Creators posted about it on their blog! Over the course of the month, the PHB highlighted some of the 50+ videos that joined the Pop Month playlist, and some of our staff made videos too. 📹 We also took part in Poptropica’s #ThanksKinney birthday campaign with a throwback to a few OG Pop Creators’ visions for the Poptropica universe. 💭

Another highlight of September was one we touched on earlier: Beev Day! 🐿️ A rise in popularity for a previously obscure character, which started on our PHC Discord server, took center stage when fans decided to host a party in honor of Dr. Hare’s beaver twin—and unexpectedly found him waiting outside the common room. On a different note, the PHB did some updating as well, in the form of a new website theme.

October saw plenty of fan creativity with a Poptober drawing challenge as well as the PHB’s annual Halloween Costume Contest with a theme of “Heroes & Villains” (check out the winners here!). 🦸‍♀️🦹‍♂️ We also hosted an interview with the Poptropica Pals, a real-life university student club centered on creating community through Poptropica.

Plus, we lined up an interview with the CEO of Poptropica himself, Mr. Abhi Arya, with an open invitation for fans to bring their questions. Abhi graciously took the time to answer every burning question sent his way, from what will happen to Poptropica in 2021 to whether certain features like the Photo Booth will return to the game. Read the full Q&A here!

Also in November, Purple Paw joined the PHB team — our first new staffer in two years! Then, in December with the end of the Flash era fast approaching, the PHB hosted a “Gone in a Flash” Holiday Party, gallivanting in Poptropica’s Flash-based common rooms for the last time. On Christmas Day, we also shared a huge collection of Poptropica comic strips, compiled by Invisible Ring, from the formerly daily series that ran from 2014–2016. Hope you enjoy the read! 🎁📰

That brings us to now, on the eve of the moment the cord is officially cut for Adobe Flash. What a potent mix of nostalgia and newness 2020 has been for Poptropica, the PHB, and the surrounding fan community! 🎉 Before we take a bow on this long look back, we want to shine a few more spotlights around this amazing Poptropica community…

Community Creations

Now rounding off its 4th year of monthly fan art highlights, the PHB’s Community Creations series is an opportunity to make and enjoy Poptropica fan art with a new theme every month, and we’re always amazed by what this fandom can do. From Pirates to Masks, here’s a look back at some of our faves in 2020. 🎨 (Click to enlarge images!)

We’re almost to the end, folks! As you can see from this long post, it’s been quite a year. Maybe it’s all the extra time spent at home in front of screens because of quarantine this year, but we’ve definitely enjoyed an uptick in activity from both Poptropica (whose social media is active again) and the fan community, including on our Discord server, the PHC!

PHB posts you don’t want to miss

Here on the PHB, in addition to the many highlights shared above, we’ve also had the joy of preparing many more fun posts for you all, with revisits to old islands through Ramble Reviews from guest writers as well as Spotted Dragon’s additions to our Pop Places IRL series, which this year has explored Wild West, Mystery Train, Game Show, and Arabian Nights Islands. And we’ve covered plenty more interesting topics (including some wild theories) along the way — check out more of our favorites from the PHB’s Greatest Posts collection! ✨

Closing the chapter on 2020

Covid may have restricted the world’s movements this year, but being Poptropica fans, we’re no strangers to finding virtual fun from the comfort of our homes and on our screens. In these strange times, and indeed in all times, let us remember the blessings we have in each other and all around us. Whether we’re discovering what Poptropica is up to next or getting to know fellow fans, may we give and receive joy always. We’re certainly grateful to have you here! 💙

As we close the books on the magnificent storm that was 2020, our greatest goodbye goes to Poptropica’s longtime engine, Adobe Flash. Rest in peace, dear friend, with all the islands, items, and fun features we may or may not get to see on the other side. 🙏

Rest in peace, Adobe Flash.

Thanks to Poptropica’s hard work this year and beyond, Flash’s demise doesn’t mean the end for Poptropica. Together, let’s look forward to 2021 with a growing world in Haxe, the vaccine to our Flash-backs for more than a decade of Flash gaming on Poptropica. 💉💥

Look out for more Poptropica goodness coming up here on the Poptropica Help Blog! 🦋 We’ve got some fun things cooking, including a new interactive series, that we think you’re going to enjoy. Thank you for joining us, and as always, keep on poppin’ on! 🥳

🎇 Happy New Year! 🎆

— the Poptropica Help Bloggers —

Slanted Fish, Spotted Dragon, Lucky Joker, Fierce Flyer, Sporty Boa, Gentle Dolphin & Purple Paw

Blast from the Past, Creators

In Their Words: OG Creators on their vision for Poptropica — #ThanksKinney et. al.

Hey Poptropicans, let’s throw it back a bit…

In honor of Poptropica’s birthday month and the #ThanksKinney campaign going on, we thought we’d take a look back at past posts and interviews with some OG Poptropica Creators sharing about the process behind the making of Poptropica. In some ways, this is a bit of an open letter for Jeff Kinney and the Poptropica Creators past and present.

Turns out the words of some of these original Pop Creators reveal some interesting ideas worth comparing and contrasting with how the game has been going in the past few years. We’re going be taking a look at our beloved Poptropica from the eyes of earlier masterminds Jeff Kinney, Jess Brallier, James Lema, and Mitch Krpata.

Let’s see what they had to say about how they envisioned Poptropica while they were building it in its earlier years…


Jeff Kinney: no player homes; experiencing different things

In 2014, Poptropica founder Jeff Kinney did a 10-minute interview with the media company BellyFeel, where he discusses some of the thought processes behind Poptropica. Check out the interview below, or read the transcript from BellyFeel, and excerpts below the video.

My first idea for Poptropica was that you would be a person who would live in an apartment and that you could collect things and bring them back to your apartment, and we’ve seen that model in lots of games like Animal Crossing and there are many virtual worlds that follow that model but this was right around the time that kids started to carry around iPods and there was that feeling that a kid carries their content with them. So we took that central mechanic of the game, that your character doesn’t actually have a home. Your character travels and brings everything with them.

That’s very liberating because then you don’t have a geographic challenge. If you had to keep going back to your house or apartment, you would be limited in a way as far as how far you could go. The idea now is that the character just island hops

I think that each island has its own, its own set of rules, its own universe and by not being overly thematic or by not creating one set of rules for the universe, I think it gives our kids a chance to experience all sorts of different things and that’s fun and freeing.

Some of the stories we’ve told, I can’t believe we’ve gotten away with, I think the most exotic story or esoteric story we’ve told is we have an island called Mystery Train where you’re travelling in the late 1800’s on a train from Washington DC to the Chicago Worlds Fair and you meet Nikola Tesla and Gustave Eiffel and all these luminaries from that time, and I kind of held my breath, I didn’t think kids would like it. But it’s one of our most popular islands because I think it’s authentic and rich.

Jeff Kinney

Interestingly, Poptropica did end up making player homes a feature, which another Creator we’ll mention later in this post says was the most requested feature for the game. However, with the arrival of Paradise Island, Poptropica has recently been criticized by fans for trying to be too much like Animal Crossing. Can they go back to their roots?


Jess Brallier: staying around like Disney; not just another game

In 2013, the learning company Future Think filmed a video of then-president of Poptropica, Jess Brallier, talking about his vision for the game, which resurfaced in 2019 thanks to idk and Osmium. Check it out:

When we shared the video here on the PHB last year, we highlighted the following quote right from this publisher’s mouth that still resonates today with players hoping for new islands more than anything else:

“We’re not doing a virtual world to create a social networking opportunity, not to house games, not to host a virtual economy, but to tell stories… the point of Poptropica is to tell kids stories in the literacy of their choosing.

Jess Brallier

This sentiment also echoes an interview the PHB hosted in 2015 with Mr. Brallier with questions asked by our readers. Here are a couple highlights about his dreams for Poptropica:

When asked, “Are there certain things that you think that Poptropica should achieve? What are they?” Mr. Brallier talked about expanding the franchise to different media, comparing it to the Disney empire.

Like Disney, we want to stay around for generations. We like to imagine our grandchildren smiling because of something Poptropica. We’d like to have a best-selling book series, a top ten iOS app, a record-breaking film, a wildly popular TV series, and a much-loved YouTube channel… But most of all, we hope that through our storytelling, art, animation, and programming to inspire a next generation of creators.

Jess Brallier

Since then, Poptropica has achieved that best-selling book series with the four graphic novels and briefly made it to #1 on the iOS App Store in August 2020 (while disparaging competitor Animal Jam in a victory post). Maybe more will lie ahead?

To another question, “What kind of skills do you look for when hiring Poptropica Creators?”, Mr. Brallier answered:

A love for storytelling and a desire to do what nobody else is doing. Many can illustrate or program, but do they do what they do because of a love and appreciation for storytelling. And our success is about doing what others don’t do. We’re not a book publisher, we’re not just another game, we’re not just another world with weird penguins or monsters or dolls running around in it. We seek not to copy, but to be the first to show up with something unexpected.

Jess Brallier

That sounds about right. 🙂


James Lema: we are not Facebook for kids

In 2013, Poptropica’s director of product development, James Lema (aka Director D), wrote on the blog of a kids brand agency called Dubit titled “Five things learned from five years of Poptropica,” which the PHB covered soon after. Another 5+ years later, let’s see how it stacks up…

The five points he gives focus on being different in the following ways: 1) focusing on narrative quests; 2) simplifying the start process; 3) using 2D art; 4) pre-scripted chat; and 5) not trying to be “Facebook for kids.” You can read more in the blog post he wrote here.

Here’s a closer look at point #5, last but certainly not least:

Since the magnificent rise of Facebook, there have been numerous companies that have tried to create a social offering for kids that follows the Facebook model. Poptropica actively decided to not go down that path.

As Poptropica grows, we want to engage kids in ways they have never experienced. From that, we created Poptropica Friends – a 100 percent safe, social experience that allows the user to tell the story about themselves.

Everyday, we ask the user a question (ex. What’s your favourite sport? Have you ever tried sushi? Do you like dogs or cats?). The answer is a visual tile that becomes part of their profile. The more questions the user answers, the more visual their personality becomes. It’s a rich tapestry that tells the personality of the user in a way that has never been done.

James Lema

Players certainly appreciate Poptropica’s intentionally different approach to the social experience, with many reports of features to love about the original Friends profiles (the 2019 reboot left some things to be desired). Let’s bring back pop quizzes (the question tiles mentioned earlier), adding friends by username, Multiverse, and more!


Mitch Krpata: world-building; not a superficial experience

Okay, last one! It’s been a long post, but thanks for sticking with it this far. This last one is plentiful, but offers a lot of insight into the inner workings of Poptropica. Here’s Mitch Krpata (aka Captain Crawfish)!

In 2017, this Poptropica senior story developer did two significant interviews about his work: one directly with the PHB about his job and more, and another with a podcast called The Oddball Show. Among the many insights from the latter, here are a few excerpts worth highlighting about the design of the game experience:

Poptropica is quite inspired by Monkey Island, [with Mitch] considering it a children’s version of the older game. He goes on to describe Poptropica as a game with unique stories and puzzles, making up long-form experiences that require time and effort to experience, which players are willing to put in…

Next, the guys compare Poptropica to The Sims games by Electronic Arts, commenting on the world-building aspect of games and how there’s no age limit for wanting some of that. Mitch notes that Poptropica Worlds is a little like that, where you get to build your own house and avatar. For almost ten years, this was the most requested feature for Poptropica: a way to build their own space, which finally came as houses on Worlds. Such a feature, of having a thing that is one’s own, transcends age and gender…

Mitch talks about how his favorite books and movies as a kid all had an edge of darkness in them, recalling the classic storybook Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. This feels true of Poptropica as well, he says: it looks cartoonish, but it’s not a superficial experience – there is depth there for the kids who are paying attention to it.

From the PHB’s summary of Mitch Krpata’s appearance on The Oddball Show podcast

You can also hear the podcast interview in the video below, or read our summary in this PHB post. It’s lengthy, but quite insightful!


It’s interesting to see how Poptropica has evolved in some ways from some of these original Creators’ imaginations, yet has stayed the same in other ways. What resonated with you? What features do you think Poptropica should keep, bring back, or do away with? Share your thoughts in the comments and on our PHC Discord server!

And #ThanksKinney for making this strange yet wonderful adventure for us all. Happy 13th birthday, Poptropica! 🎈🎉

~Slanted Fish 🐠

Blast from the Past, PHB Specials

Preserving Poptropica post-Flash 💥

Hey, Poptropicans—welcome to 2020. As you may have heard, this year will bring about the end of Adobe Flash, the engine that much of Poptropica runs on. The implications are huge for this game, and we’ve already seen it affecting 30 of the oldest islands and many more features.

Here on the PHB, we’ve mentioned the Flash issue here and there, but now we’re taking the opportunity to make a whole post hashing out what’s happening, what it means, and where it’s all going. So let’s get started!

1. Where are the old islands?

In July 2019, Poptropica removed 30 islands from the map. They were all considered “old school islands”: Poptropica’s earliest islands, created and released from 2007–2013, which were built using ActionScript 2 (AS2), a programming language primarily used for the Adobe Flash Player platform.

The good news is, you can still play the old school islands using the Old Island Directory created by the glitcher idk. Although they’re currently inaccessible from the game itself, it’s possible that the old islands will return. Poptropica’s reason for taking them down, for the time being, was because they were “causing a lot of problems for players.”

2. Poptropica’s Promises

On the first day of the new year, Poptropica posted the following on Instagram: “2020 is going to great [sic] — a non-Flash version of the game, new islands, the return of some old islands, and so much more!!!” (Our emphasis added.) So, there’s hope yet that the old islands will return—but as the Instagram post indicates, it may not be all of them.

A fan-made Poptropica map with most of the islands, created by idk.

We’re not sure which ones are coming back and which ones might not make it, nor do we know why, but perhaps there’s only so much they can work with. Still, in addition to directly playing them via the Old Island Directory, you can also relive their memories with the PHB’s collection of Island Guides.

3. What does it mean that Flash is going away?

Adobe Flash Player was an instrumental engine for a lot of the early internet, particularly for games, video, and animations. Poptropica is among the many websites that used Flash, just like other popular game sites of the 2000s and 2010s, like Club Penguin and Neopets. For those of us who’ve grown up playing these games, losing Flash is not just saying goodbye to outdated technology, but watching whole worlds from our childhoods crumble away. RIP. 😢

And yet, Flash is going away simply because tech has evolved for the better—modern web browsers have adapted to HTML5, and the end of Flash also means better security and battery life. So, if Poptropica is to continue, they’ll need to keep up with the tech and move off of Flash… which is what they’ve been working on for the past few years, even though this has meant fewer islands and more cosmetic changes—and yes, even the seemingly odd creation of Poptropica Worlds, built with Unity and launched in 2017.

Newer islands, which have a larger screen and ambient music, were built with ActionScript 3 (AS3), which is more compatible with current desktop standards as well as the rise of mobile applications. We started calling these islands SUIs, which stands for Sound-Updated Islands.

In 2013, Poptropica launched a beta version of 24 Carrot as an SUI called BETA Carrotene, and after fixing up some bugs, they were ready to roll out Virus Hunter, the first official SUI. From then on, all islands were released as SUIs, and sometimes the Creators even went back and re-made a former island, like Time Tangled or Mythology, into an SUI. Unlike older islands, these newer SUIs are able to survive without Flash, which is why islands now come as SUIs.

4. Poptropica’s Progress

Poptropica Worlds was intended to be Poptropica’s solution to the post-Flash dilemma, but for some reason, things didn’t quite pan out. By 2019, it wasn’t being updated anymore and was even actively hidden from the homepage. Instead, many of Worlds’ standout features have since been integrated into the original Poptropica, like device syncing and player clubhouses.

Poptropica even wrote in their recap of 2019 that many of that year’s updates were “a really important part of the conversion process for getting the game off of Flash” suggesting that their post-Flash solution will focus not on Worlds, but on the original Poptropica. Some more of these updates over the past year include a new layout for friends and the store, SUI-ified common rooms, and plus, who could forget the adorable pets?

However, the shiny new things are eclipsed by the loss of many beloved classic features that may or may not be compatible with the future of technology—such as the old school islands.

We’ve also lost a lot of old costumes and items, mostly from the store, though some are gradually coming back through each new monthly rotation of store items. We’ve lost friend features like the ability to add by username, viewing medallions, and even the Multiverse (and tribe!) party rooms. Island photos were replaced by Photo Booth pics, but even the Photo Booth is currently down, with no word on when it may return.

Still, if Poptropica’s previous statements are worth their salt, perhaps there’s still hope yet for a brighter Poptropica post-Flash…

5. Poptropica’s Future

As Poptropica has stated here and there, they are working on porting the game over to newer technology, so that it can live on even after the plug is pulled on Flash. Poptropica Original is here to stay, continuing its legacy both in the web browser and now on mobile devices.

We’re likely to see at least some of the old islands return, based on Poptropica’s Instagram post mentioned above. And they’ve mentioned working on “new islands” as well, including, most recently, the announcement that Zomberry Island will be back—with a new level!

Also, though Poptropica hasn’t confirmed anything specific, perhaps we can still hold out some hope for the return of some of the beloved features we’ve lost, or at least see them morph into viable alternatives.

After all, even Realms disappeared for over a year before it finally returned in late 2018. Meanwhile, Multiverse may be gone, but now we have player clubhouses (introduced in late 2018) to meet up with friends. While they’ve still got some work to do to really make clubhouses as big of a hit as Multiverse was (namely, being able to easily find specific friends whose houses you want to pop into), it’s a promising start to a new era for Poptropica.

Whatever happens, we’ll be here to watch it all go down.

With cautious optimism,

—the PHB 💙