Mocktropica Island, PHB Specials

Is Poptropica turning into Mocktropica Island?

Now there’s a question. Is Poptropica now fulfilling the prophecy about itself it set out in its own self-parody in the 36th island—and not in a good way?

I’m Slanted Fish, here to examine just how much Poptropica is falling into the traps it once warned about. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

For those who need a refresher, Mocktropica Island is a bit of a self-parody of Poptropica, imagining what things would be like when development of the game world goes haywire. It’s a fictional tale, but like many good stories, it does contain some truth.

And lately, it seems like Poptropica’s development is in crisis: we don’t hear as much from the Creators as we used to, and when we do, they’re tinkling with visual updates here and there, rather than the meat of the game: the story quests. In fact, it’s been a whole year since the latest island, Greek Sea Odyssey, was released on Poptropica Worlds, and Poptropica Original hasn’t had a new island since 2016’s Monkey Wrench. So, robot boss battles aside, has Mocktropica predicted the fate of the game?

Pets: the focus on aesthetics

photo credit: Maroon

One feature Mocktropica played with was the idea of pets for Poptropicans. Back when the island first came out in 2013, there weren’t exactly pets in Poptropica, though we did have “Followers” available from ads or in the store (such as the dragon in the picture above). But the Creators knew when they were making this island that pets were a popular requested feature for the game, so in the story, we have kids cheering for the introduction of pets.

And don’t get me wrong, Poptropica pets are great! This year the Pet Barn on Home Island finally opened, offering cute critters for players to adopt.

Pet lizards introduced to the Pet Barn in 2019.

But that’s just the thing, too: while the Creators focused on aesthetic updates like pets (not to mention the redesign of Home Island and various features like the Arcade, Clubhouses, Friends profiles, the upheaval of the store into a rotational system, and more), they neglected the heart of Poptropica itself… the island quests.

Coins: the allure of membership

Pop Coin currency is suggested on Mocktropica Island.

While Poptropica hasn’t gotten quite as extreme as Mocktropica when it comes to currency, the Pop Coin system does hint at something sinister: charging players to pay real-life money for basic features of the game. In Poptropica, we know it as membership.

Membership wasn’t always like it is now. These days, every update seems to come with a significant portion exclusive to members only: store updates, pets, the new friends profiles, and so on. But back when we saw new islands every once in a while, each update wasn’t so member-focused, in part because membership already had a big draw: early access to new islands. With no new islands, the Creators have to find more ways to make membership attractive for the sake of profits, but it’s only causing players—many without the means of purchasing power—to resent them for it.

Read more in this 2017 PHB article: Is Poptropica becoming pay-to-play?

Pop-ups: Achievements and Ad Units

Achievements? Well, Poptropica has had ways of marking a player’s achievements with features like island medallions and album photos, and fortunately, they’re not annoying pop-ups like on Mocktropica—in fact, they’re pretty creative.

But not so fast. Remember the ad sales lady on Mocktropica and the obnoxious pop-up ads she made float around on your screen? While Poptropica hasn’t quite reached that level of distaste, it has since introduced a pretty off-putting pop-up ad at the bottom of the screen that re-appears whenever you change scenes. Sadly, it’s been there for a while and looks like it intends to stay. As if the banner wrapper ads weren’t enough!

Advertising your own game on your own game? Not exactly effective, either.

Developers: Where have they gone?

On Mocktropica Island, Poptropica developers were fired by new management.

A year ago, Poptropica inexplicably let go of some valuable senior-level employees who had contributed to the game for about a whole decade. A former Creator, Jessica (aka Skinny Moon), even confirmed in March 2018 that “most of the company is gone,” referring to employees she’d worked with prior to that point. Since then, we haven’t had names—not even aliases!—to connect us with the Poptropica team.

On this front, Mocktropica definitely predicted a bleak turn for Poptropica. These days, Poptropica rarely updates their official blog, on time if it all—even for bigger releases—and as outlined above, game updates are not only fewer and farther between, but when they do occur, they’re not what anybody really asked for. Sure, releasing some new items and redecorating some interfaces is mildly interesting, but they’re not going to keep anybody’s attention for long. But you know what will, Poptropica Creators?

Stories—specifically, islands!

Former president of Poptropica, Jess Brallier, says it best in this video from 2013, recently discovered by Osmium and re-posted from “Future Think” by idk:

Right out of this publisher’s mouth: “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.

Does that sound like the Poptropica of the present to you? Well, I’ve been following Poptropica through the years, and let me tell you: the success is in the stories it tells. The most anticipated updates have always been the islands—those quirky quests were what made Poptropica “Poptropica.” Pets, member perks, fun items—those are best left as secondary.

I think it’s pretty clear that Poptropica has, in not all, but some ways, followed right into the footsteps of Mocktropica Island. An island created as a cautionary tale is unfolding right before us, and the Poptropica Creators of the present would do well to pay attention and revisit what the Creators of the past have tried to warn us all about when they created Mocktropica.

What does Poptropica need right now? Well…

I think I speak for many Poptropicans when I say that I truly hope to see Poptropica return to what made it successful: the stories, or in other words, the islands. Oh Poptropica, where will your yellow blimp take us next?

—Slanted Fish 🐠

Back Lot Island, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Island, Game Show Island, Ghost Story Island, Legendary Swords, Mocktropica Island, Monster Carnival Island, PHB Sneak Peeks, PHB Specials, Poptropica Portfolio, PoptropiCon Island, Survival Island, Twisted Thicket Island, Virus Hunter Island

Poptropica Portfolio: Chris Goodwin

Nate Greenwall isn’t the only one posting his Poptropica illustrations – I recently stumbled upon the site of Chris Goodwin, an illustrator/designer working for Poptropica, whose online portfolio can be found here. This post comes in three parts. As always, click to enlarge the pics!

Perhaps the most interesting section is character design: designs for E. Vile’s robots from Legendary Swords (as well as some props seen in P-Con: Ep. 2), a huge collection of characters (including several unreleased ones – some possibly for Ep. 3 of PoptropiCon!), unused flying ace designs (the corner suggests they were for the Virus Hunter minigame, Nano-Combat Training), ideas for Max McGullicutty’s look in Survival: Ep. 5, and finally, rough drafts of robots for Game Show Island.

The next section is concept art – ideas for various parts of the game. Here we see color plans for areas inside Joe’s body on Virus Hunter Island, shape ideas for “air creatures” in his lungs, a look at an extravagant (though unused) virus bug, several sketches of dark scenes, racer cars we’ve seen before as a scrapped idea, a Legendary Swords doodle, the Monster Carnival common room, and a sketch from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Island.

Lastly, there’s a section devoted to scene illustrations – most of these are already in the game, though the one of the cabin is not (but it seems to belong to the unnamed geological park island).

The rest are: the tutorial island in the Poptropica app, Ephraim University (both exterior and interior) from Mocktropica, Soundstage #1 on Back Lot, the Hemlock Herald newspaper room on Ghost Story, a hallway door and post office common room on Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and the bonus quest on Twisted Thicket. Seeing them each as one big scene makes it all the more awesome. ❤

Poptropica sure is beautiful, and Chris has made some really creative contributions to the game we know and love. Enjoy the Chris Goodwin collection, and stay popping, Poptropicans! 😀

Mocktropica Island, Monster Carnival Island

It’s time to ride the monstrous roller coaster rid- Okay, so I’m not good at song parodies. Why are you reading this anyway? ON WITH THE POST!

Um, “what’s popping, Poptropicans…?” Blake’s out running errands, so he asked me, Timmy, to cover 2 new pieces of Poptropica news. So let’s move on with the post!

So anyway, first off, the Mocktropica guide is now up for the Poptropica walkthrough iOS app thing (I don’t know what it’s called, Blake never lets me use his iPhone… Hmm, he left it behind. Let me try something I’ve been wondering about..)

*TWO HOURS LATER*

Timmy: *playing Flappy Bird* this is so fascinating and addictive I don’t think I’ll eat or sleep in a week. Oh, right. So yeah, according to this app, the Mocktropica walkthrough is now up! Let’s hope there aren’t any bugs in the walkthrough… but if you can’t be bothered to open the app, just use the PHB’s Mocktropica Island Guide!

And in other news, if you check out Jeff Heim’s Poptropica Soundcloud, you may have heard… *puts on reading glasses* …what sounds like it’ll be a track for Monster Carnival. Thanks for that, Jeff Heim. Your tracks are always wonderful. *gives thumbs-up, tries to gain publicity like HP did because I’m a fame-hungry type of guy* You can listen to this wonderful track at his Soundcloud.

So it seems like that’s it for now in Poptropica. As always, stay popping, Poptropicans.

“TIMMY, I’M BACK! Wait, why are you doing the post for this week? I specifically told you NOT TO!”

SORRY!

Mocktropica Island

I Declare Mocktropica Free to Play!

Hi Gs,

It snuck up on all of us, but nonetheless Mocktropica is now free to play! Head over to Poptropica to play now — and tell me what you guys think of this one of a kind quest. If you’re in need of some help, be sure to check out our Mocktropica guide (with pictures 😀 )!

mocktropica here

mocktropica free copy

You are very right, Bucket Bot. Kudos to you.  😛 You can also see what I thought of the island in my review.  I think you may agree. 😉

-HP

Mocktropica Island, Reviews

Mocktropica Bonus Quest Review

Hi Gs,

The Bonus Quest for Mocktropica, or “Bonus Bots” as everyone has been calling it, was released very recently.  I have played it, and my feelings are mixed.

ahah

The Story

banana

The premise is that one of Poptropica’s best programmers, Mark Hertz, has been lost to the game Mega Fighting Bots.  When I say lost, I mean he has become obsessed with it, and won’t do anything other than it — I discussed the same issue concerning Minecraft in my live stream. 😉 Anyway, not only has he become obsessed, he has morphed into the game, and become evil.  He is the final boss you have to battle.

The picture to the right is an email sent from Mark.  A little easter egg is hidden in the email.  Mark’s outro is “-Sent from my SmartTec Bananaphone“.  Bananaphone is a fun, popular kids song, you should really check it out. 😛

The Gameplay

Well, here’s the deal — all you do in the bonus quest is play Mega Fighting Bots.  There is a cool “real life” Bucket Bot, that is animated, but other than that, that’s all it’s got!  But what do I think of it?  I thought it was actually pretty fun!  You see, when you hack into the game, you get unlimited coins.  That means that you can respawn after the three rounds!  Infinitely!  And, you get to battle different bosses than just Safety Bot.  Also, the bots have commentary!  Little remarks before and after the rounds appear, and most of them are pretty humorous.  Each bot has a different difficulty and style of fighting.  To best these bots, the tips are below. 😉

– Safety Bot

The first bot you are to battle.  Surprisingly, this was the bot that took me the longest to finish.  He is very cautious, and avoid most attacks.  Very annoying.  Here’s a little tip I used to best not only him, but all the bots (click to animate):

other

Wait for him to come around the bend, then attack!  Even more, you can lure him by standing in the corner, and then when he starts to come toward you, go down a square, to where I was in the gif.  (actually, he is the only bot that the tip doesn’t fully work on… >.<)

Repeat this again and again — it really works!  Believe it or not, I didn’t die ONCE in the whole game, and after Safety Bot, I only spent two rounds on all the bots (you have to beat the bots two rounds to win — I only had to go into the final round ONCE)!

 – Ad Bot

Ad Bot is quicker than Safety Bot.  She is also not the smartest in many ways.  If you keep attacking her from a corner, she’ll keep coming back for more.  Although, she can be tricky.  Be sure she is in your target zone before you attack — she changes directions quickly.

mwhaha

 – Shredder Bot

Easily ticked.  Has a bit of a temper.  She hurts… a lot.  Hard to defeat.  She will come at you with different angles.  She has a broader strategy.

mwhahaa

 – Focus Bot

He is very smart.  Out of them all, he’s really easy.  Just use the corner tactic.  He is not hesitant like Safety Bot.  When he comes at a different angle, he will follow through.

mwahahah

– Mega Bot

Surprisingly, this bot was the easiest for me.  He is the lost programmer, Mark Hertz.  Of course, he is the biggest, fastest, strongest, and smartest.  And he is appropriately named. 😉

mwahahahahaha

~

Once you defeat Mega Bot, he will get thrown out of the ring!  You have brought back the lost programmer!

programmer sad

So the question is: was this bonus quest worth the price of Membership?  Is it a bargain?

After you both are transported back home, you get a little present from the now famous Bucket Bot.  It’s a terrific Bucket Bot costume!

yaybucket bot

The fun is the quality here, and I had fun.  I also got a rocking costume.  I rate this bonus quest 3 stars.  Unlike the VHI Bonus Quest, this didn’t have a separate soundtrack.  It did, however, have an awesome real life Bucket Bot, and a new background.  And, you get unlimited coins.  Not that I used any. 😛

Also, there is a little symbolism in the bot’s rank.

The Safety Inspector is on floor 1.  Safety Bot is the first bot you battle.

The Ad Sales Manager is on floor 2.  Ad bot is the second bot you battle.

“Slash” is on floor 3.  Shredder Bot is the third bot you battle.

Then, the whole thing flips around —

The Focus Tester is on the main floor.  Focus Bot is the fourth bot you battle.

And, to make sense of all of this, Mark Hertz is in the basement.  Mega Bot is the final bot you battle.  Well played, Creators. 😉

HP