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?
This week on the Poptropica Creators’ Blog, guest writer Invisible Ringlays 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?”
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! ✌️
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! ⏪
(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!
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.
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 sneakpeeks of “Poptropica Airways,” but once some players gained access to this day-by-day feature, the feedback proved disastrous. The “island,” whichplayers 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. ✉️
Decemberbeganwith12DaysofMemberGifts, 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 Giftside-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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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!
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! 💙
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! 🥳
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 Creatorsreveal 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.
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.“
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🎈🎉
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 glitcheridk. 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.
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 theOld 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.
As we wind down on 2019, we’re going back into an old routine: looking back on the year that was, and recapping the highlights (and lowlights) of Poptropica and the PHB community. This year: flashing new, slashing old.
Poptropica recently shared their own recap of 2019, where they explained many of this year’s game updates, which were largely aesthetic changes, as “a really important part of the conversion process for getting the game off of Flash.” As a refresher: Poptropica was originally built on Flash, an older technology that will lose browser support by the end of next year. So, for some time now, Poptropica has been working on rebuilding away from Flash.
This process has brought about some fun design changes to the game over the past year—but there have been losses, too. Let’s hit rewind and get to it!
In February, Poptropica gave members another perk: double the credits from the daily Wheel of Loot. It seemed silly at first, but then in March, the in-game Store got a makeover—and while the visuals were a big part, there were some other changes as well, and they had to do with membership: even members had to pay for store items with credits, and many of the items became for members only, even ones that used to be available to all.
Also in March, Home Island received the first of 2019’s various redecorating schemes with a pastel spring look!
Plus, a new face on the Creators’ Blog finallyintroduced herself as Blue Tooth, Poptropica’s official blogger. She isn’t quite as active as Poptropica’s former social media manager, Skinny Moon, but her engagement with the community has involved a more active Instagram page (and a less active Twitter feed). With it, she delivers Pop news in a fun, excited tone, as well as featured fan art and look book outfits, including a short-lived “Look of the Week” series and the never-delivered “Clubhouse of the Week” promise.
Indeed, this was a year of makeovers, as even the Poptropica homepage got a facelift with a bright green play button and new art (that’s gone through multiplechanges since then, too). Most noteworthily, Poptropica Worlds is no longer linked to on the homepage, though it can still be accessed here. It seems safe to assume they’ve quietly stopped working on Worlds, considering its lack of updates and the activity happening on the original Pop instead—including a steady stream of ad games and prizes.
Further confirming the theory that Pop Worlds is a thing of the past: in May, Poptropica launched syncing between devices for Original Poptropica on both the computer and mobile app, which was originally the big selling point of Worlds. At least it shows the Creators are serious about keeping Poptropica accessible in this modern age of gaming on the go!
But July came with this year’s hottest new content: Reality TV: Wild Safari Island, a successor to the original Reality TV Island (which was one of the ~30 victims of the purge of old school islands). It didn’t quite live up to the hype of Poptropica’s previous islands, but you can read more on that in our review.
August was a quiet month for Pop, but things picked up again in September with several updates: common rooms finally upgraded to bigger screens and got arcade game stations, Poptropica celebrated its 12th birthday with a strange cake car costume, and Home Island got two more makeovers: fall and Halloween. Suitable store items accompanied the changing of seasons.
Poptropica’s next island adventure was confirmed in October—a remake of Zomberry Island is coming, though later than anticipated, seeing as it was promised for “later this year” and the year is wrapping up. Still, we’ll be waiting for it in 2020!
And now, let’s turn to the next half of this rewind…
Last year, we commented on how little the Creators posted on their blog in comparison to the past, and even in comparison to the PHB. Fortunately, things have gotten better since Blue Tooth joined the scene. While the Creators’ Blog has hidden its post counter, here at the PHB we’ve delivered 135 posts to you in 2019, and they’ve been some good ones.
For starters, in early 2019 we took a look at the direction Poptropica has been taking over the previous few years in an op-ed that asked the question, is Poptropica turning into Mocktropica Island? Echoing popular sentiment from the Pop community, we lamented how the lack of new islands to play—core to Poptropica’s identity—has taken a backseat in production priorities to make way for the hyper-focus on visual updates.
On a lighter note, the PHB played around with the idea of a Poptropica fighting game, Smash Bros-style: “Smash! Crackle! POP!” It was just an April Fools’ prank, but we had fun with it—and we hope you did too!
We also brought back our annual Readers’ Survey, and the results were announced in May. Among the stats, we found that PHB readers are getting older (15–18 was the highest age range), many discovered the game in its earlier years (2007 was the top answer), and many of you found the PHB in the past couple of years (2016 led the chart on this one).
Marking the PHB’s 11th birthday in July, we held our annual Poptropica awards event, the Poppies, with a livestream to announce the winners you all voted for and a party to celebrate. Hosting a party on Poptropica was a bit trickier than in the past with Multiverse officially gone from the game after the friends profile update, but MM and idk (our Popular Poptropican of 2019 winner) helped us all find a backdoor way (which unfortunately no longer works) to access the much-missed feature. Anyway, catch the recap of the party and winners here!
We also celebrated our traditional Halloween costume competition, now in its 11th year, with a “Heavenly & Hellish” theme. The winners of PHB’s Halloween Eleven did indeed seem to come from the highest heights and lowest depths, with Jean of Pop’s “Heavenly Healer” and Quick Fang’s “Red-eyed Zombie Carnie” being crowned respectively. Even the PHB staff joined in the fun with costumes of their own! You can find all that and more in the PHB’s recently updated Look Book (i.e. Costumes page), which is now easier to navigate.
Speaking of this community’s creativity, this is also our third year of hosting Community Creations, our monthly series where we feature works of fan art based around a theme. Let’s commemorate that with a gallery of some of this year’s top pieces, with one drawn from each month. (December’s features will be announced on the first of the month, of course.)
And finally, we figured 2019 was a good a time as any to look back on the past decade in Poptropica, so we dug through the archives and gathered up what became The Poptropica Yearbook, accessible via the Pop Plus page.
This PHB project compiled Rewind posts of previous years as well as created new ones for years we hadn’t summarized before, and placed them all in one convenient location for Poptropicans to reminisce. And now, as we close another chapter, this 2019 Rewind will be remembered in its pages, too.
So that’s 2019! We gained some, we lost some, but we press on. To recap:
What’s new: Pets, friends profile layout (now with sticker wall, photo booth album, message board, mood, background, likes, clubhouse link), store layout, homepage, device syncing on Poptropica Original, official island tour pages, five Home Island makeovers, Snagglemast Island (tutorial), and Reality TV: Wild Safari Island—our only real island of the year, and a rather mediocre one at that.
What we’ve lost: 29 “Old School Islands,” Multiverse, various friends features (adding by username, island album photos, viewing all friends instead of only about 10, island medallions, pop quizzes), photo booth (so much for the new photo booth album on the friends profiles…), and, while still accessible, Poptropica Worlds has been quietly hidden away and left inactive.
With 2020 bringing about the end of Flash, the Poptropica Creators have been promising that they’re working on rebuilding Poptropica with newer technology that’ll keep the game around for years to come. That’s meant a different pace of updates in the last few years—without many new islands to tell new stories, it feels for some like Poptropica is missing its storytelling magic. But a new year—in fact, a new decade—is on the horizon, and perhaps that means new life for Poptropica. Stick around, and we’ll all see!