Astro-Knights Island, Pop Places IRL

Pop Places IRL: Astro-Knights

Pop Places IRL Header

Welcome back to “Pop Places IRL,” Poptropicans! Today, we’re visiting ye olde times and heading to Astro-Knights Island. Enjoying the series? Be sure to check out other Pop Places IRL posts.

Astro-Knights Island takes place in Medieval Europe, but obviously includes a sci-fi twist. Though its exact location is never specified, we’ll assume the kingdom of Arturus has British roots, given its repeated connections to Arthurian legend.

Before we launch our rocket and start soaring through the stars, we get to explore the kingdom a bit to kick off the mysterious story of this island. The Castle is definitely the largest structure in town, and an iconic element of Medieval Europe to say the least.

Besides the castle, however, we get to see a medieval aesthetic all throughout Arturus, particularly when looking at Main Street. Er… save for those sci-fi elements we talked about earlier. I don’t think we would be able to find a glowing rocket statue in the Middle Ages…

The Ye Olde Rumour Mille is another major location in town. The name might be a bit of a joke, but the actual structure is pretty similar to its IRL counterpart!

General town aside, let’s step back inside the castle. That’s why we’re here, aren’t we? Cool castles!!! Though many castles in Europe have been refurbished in one way or another, it’s nonetheless interesting to still see them standing at all. You can even tour some!

Continuing inside the castle, I think the most important room to talk about is the Throne Room. Gotta have a center piece for the whole castle! The room we have pictured is from France, but you get the idea. Quite ornate!

On the opposite side of things, however, we have the Dungeon. These sorts of cells, including “oubliettes,” are often associated with with the Medieval era (though its correlation with torture more accurately pairs with the Renaissance period). Too bad there weren’t any mysterious robots IRL to keep prisoners company!

The last room in the castle is the Library. Art history buffs will certainly be familiar with some illuminated manuscripts from this era, though we don’t have much time to stop and study anything in Poptropica. Gotta love that Old English, right? Unfortunately the library in Poptropica is, er, in a bit disarray…

While in the castle library, we could also glance at some references Poptropica makes to Arthurian legend (as I mentioned earlier). Though the legend primary features King Arthur, we learn from the Astro-Knights novel that the King of Arturus is actually named Richard. As in Richard the Lionheart!

Similarly, the knights have ties to legend: Pelasus (named similarly to Pelleas, a knight of the round table), Gawain (another knight of the round table with the same name), and Cador (Duke of Cornwall, related to Arthur). Cador may not be a knight of the round table like his comrades, but the ties are there nonetheless! So… have a photo of Sir Lancelot in his place.

Another good comparison to legend: Merlin! Other than sharing the name with a wizard, our “feathered” friend also shares his name with a type of falcon.

Last but not least… Binary Bard! Or Mordred, to be clear. There are various depictions of him in legend, but as Modredus, he is Arthur’s traitorous nephew.

Alright, I know we strayed away from “places” for a bit there, leaning more towards “people,” so let’s get back on track! Other than Medieval Europe, the other dominant setting of Astro-Knights is, of course, space! The real moon may not have an AstroZone like the Pewter Moon in Poptropica, but maybe we’ll get to that point someday.

If you recall, the three main planets we visit on our space adventure include the Ice Planet, Fire Planet, and Jungle Planet. Wellllll, those planets may not be in our solar system, but we can still compare them to what we have IRL! Based on their distance from the sun and atmosphere characteristics, Uranus is our coldest planet while Venus is our hottest. Does that make Earth our Jungle Planet then?

Phew, now that was a long trip! I guess space is a pretty far off flight, huh? But anyway, it’s no wonder that Astro-Knights won “OG Island We’ll Miss Most” in the 2020 Poppies. It’s quite the adventure!

Aside from the sci-fi elements, how well do you think this island holds up to IRL Medieval Europe? How much do you know about Arthurian legend? And what other islands would you like to see in this series? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in a comment below!

Until next time, Poptropicans, I’m blasting off for now!

~SD

Pop Places IRL, Wild West Island

Pop Places IRL: Wild West 🏜

Pop Places IRL Header

Welcome back to “Pop Places IRL,” Poptropicans! We’re gonna be moseying back in time today to visit Wild West Island! And if you like this series, sure to check out other Pop Places IRL posts.

Wild West Island quite obviously takes place in the western US during the American frontier period of the 19th century. The time period has been highly romanticized, especially in film, so there’s no wonder we have a Poptropica island themed around it!

Pretty much every building, character, and background matches this old western aesthetic. Details range from apparel, architecture, fonts, dialogue, and beyond! Sometimes the smallest changes can have a big impact on an island’s theme. The setting has this wide open feeling, and I think Poptropica was able to successfully portray that in their own style. Do you agree?

One of the most iconic places in any old western town is, of course, the Saloon (in this case, found in Diamond Plains). And Poptropica did manage to make such a location kid-friendly enough to be included! Anyone care for a round of root beer? It’s on me!

Another noteworthy building would definitely be the Marshal’s Office or Jail (also in Diamond Plains). Whatever the law enforcement may be (sheriff, marshal, constable, you name it), even deputies seemed to be quite prevalent in a time rampant with outlaws, bounty hunters, and gangs. It was cowboys galore!

Since we mentioned the jail, we of course have to bring up the Bank, because the whole “outlaws robbing banks” trope just cannot be ignored. The bank we see in Poptropica is located in Rock Ridge. Stick ’em up!

We could very well look at the Train Station as well, considering it does tie into the bank robbery within the story. Quite different than the train station we see in our Mystery Train comparison, huh?

After all that, I think we simply must talk about the Casino in Dos Cactos next. During such wild times, gambling tended to be a common occurrence. But yet again, Poptropica was able to fit it into its kid-friendly world! Looks like everything’s coming up aces for them!

If we stay in Dos Cactos, we can head on over to a sort of carnival, but more specifically a shooting gallery. Yes, traveling shows did date back to the wild west era—you simply had to travel between the far away towns for profit! And every good cowboy knew how to shoot a pistol.

Curious about other displays of showmanship? Why, just take a look at the local Snake Oil Salesman in Rock Ridge of course! Traveling carts were quite the norm in the wild west, with salesmen often promising miracle cures and obscure tonics of all sorts. Maybe be careful about spending your money around here…

Another cart we get to see in Wild West is owned by a photographer (this one in Dusty Gulch), which could perhaps be considered more of a miracle than the tonics! The world’s first photograph was taken in 1826, perfectly fitting into the frontier era. That makes us pretty lucky to even have photos from around that time to compare with the island!

Dusty Gulch is also home to Rusty’s Ranch, as you may know (though this can also be compared to the ranch in Rock Ridge). Raising cattle and horses and such was so common in fact that it was actually one of the factors leading to the Dust Bowl. So maybe it was only a stable job in one sense of the word?

Something else we can’t forget: the gold mines! The California Gold Rush of the 1800s was a huge population push to the west. Time and time again it seems like people yearned to move west! Though it didn’t guarantee fortune to all, that’s for sure.

Bringing our adventure to an end, the Canyon Hideout feels like an appropriate grande finale. One of the most famous IRL hidey-holes for gangs and outlaws was the “Hole-In-The-Wall,” an isolated area in Wyoming.

Boy howdy, that was a lot of places, wasn’t it? And we didn’t even go into detail about the hotel, clock tower, or trading post! Just goes to show you how much detail goes into one setting/game design.

Do you think Poptropica successfully replicated the alluring aesthetic of the IRL wild west? Yay or neigh? What island would you like to see us compare next in this series? Be sure to leave your thoughts in a comment below!

So long, partners!

~SD

Mystery Train Island, Pop Places IRL

Pop Places IRL: Mystery Train 🚂

Pop Places IRL Header

Welcome back to “Pop Places IRL,” Poptropicans, and all aboard! For this post, let’s chug on over to Mystery Train Island, shall we? And if you’re liking the series, be sure to check out other Pop Places IRL posts.

Though we spend most of this island on—can you guess?—a train, we do still visit some very important stops along our adventure. And, truth be told, Mystery Train is certainly one of the more historically founded islands! From the train, to the cities, and even to the passengers, Mystery Train features very real people, places, and things (however we’ll focus more on locations today, not figures). So… full steam ahead!

On Main Street, before we even board the train and begin the mystery, we find ourselves in none other than Washington, DC. We can see the US Capitol Building in the background, but we aren’t staying for long!

But beyond the very real cities, even the train itself is historically accurate! The John Bull locomotive, which is named on our ticket, is the main location of our adventure but is also an IRL train that journeyed to the IRL Columbian Exposition in 1893. Yes sir, all the way from DC to Chicago!

Our next stop is Chicago, but before we pull into the station, let’s take a very quick look at our train’s interior first. The train in Poptropica had large individual rooms for its passengers, which is quite fancy if you ask me. But hey, traveling back in the day seemed to be quite the luxurious feat! Can you believe those big cushy seats?

Alright, now let’s pull into the great city of Chicago, Illinois. The station has obviously grown and changed a lot since 1893, hasn’t it? Well, we can’t stay long anyhow! Mademoiselle Moreau is getting away!

It’s time to chase Moreau into the Chicago World’s Fair. Though one can’t help but stop and stare at that huge Ferris Wheel!

And with that, it looks like we’ve finally reached the end of the line. It was quite an adventure! Considering Mystery Train is one of Poptropica’s more historically founded islands, just how well do you think it holds up to its IRL counterparts? Did it seem on track, or was it a full on train wreck? What other islands do you want us to compare in this series? Comment your thoughts below!

Until next time, Poptropicans! Safe travels!

~SD

Game Show Island, Pop Places IRL

Pop Places IRL: Game Show 🤖

Pop Places IRL Header

Welcome back to “Pop Places IRL,” Poptropicans! SD here to take you on a trip to Game Show Island, which coincidentally takes place all over the world! Liking this series? Be sure to check out other Pop Places IRL posts.

Even though Game Show Island primarily consists of, well, game shows, each competition does take place in a distinct, very real city. So, despite the constant immersion in mini games, pay closer attention and you’ll notice some world destinations!

Let’s start off with Tokyo, home to the big baddie of the adventure: Mr. Yoshi’s Game Show. The city, located in Japan, is actually one we’ve visited before in this series! Remember Red Dragon Island? Familiarity aside, however, Game Show Island takes place in a much more modern version of the city. We can clearly see the inspiration for this location as far back as the concept art! The city is clearly known for its bright advertisements, technology, animation, and much more!

Moving on, why don’t we head to Miami next? Located in Florida (USA), this city is home to the Spin for Riches Game Show. While the state does have a lot of retirement homes, I think the area is more well known for its bustling beaches! I think the coastal colors translate well in-game.

What’s next, you may ask? None other than Istanbul (not Constantinople)! In Poptropica, this is where we get to play the Scaredy Pants Game Show, but fear not! IRL, we’re just taking a trip to Turkey. Look at that remarkable architecture!

Next up on our list, Moscow! Here we will find the Brainiacs Game Show, in the capital of Russia! Isn’t it kinda cool that you can even see the resemblance of the city in the simplest of concept art? It’s pretty interesting to see the unique architecture of each city translated into Poptropica, that’s for sure.

Turning back round to our last big city, we have Buenos Aires! This one is the capital of Argentina, but in Poptropica it’s known for the Kerplunk Game Show! Perhaps not as flashy as some of the other tourism hot-spots on our list, but noteworthy nonetheless.

Wow, who knew you traveled so much on Game Show Island? It’s like trying to fit the whole globe into one island! And that’s not even considering Main Street, Club Nouveau Riche, the Factory, Holmes’ Lair, and—oh! The Museum!

Before I adjourn our travels for the day, I will leave you with one more fun comparison from the Museum we see on Main Street. Remember that robot statue? Fun fact: it’s based on “The Thinker,” a sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

And with that, I think our trip is just about coming to an end. What did you think of the journey? Do you think Poptropica captured the real nature of these cities? What other islands do you want to see in this series? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts below!

So long, Poptropicans! Keep on traveling!

~SD

Arabian Nights Island, Pop Places IRL

Pop Places IRL: Arabian Nights 🐪

Pop Places IRL Header

Welcome back to “Pop Places IRL,” Poptropicans! Miss the series? I know I did! This time around, we’ll be traveling to Arabian Nights Island! Like this series? Be sure to check out other Pop Places IRL posts.

As you might already know, Arabian Nights was the winning idea from Poptropica’s “Create Your Dream Island” contest back in 2013. The pitch? “On Arabian Nights Island, Poptropicans go on a quest across the desert to rescue a sultan’s genie from the Forty Thieves.” And it turned out to be quite the tale!

The adventure, like Disney’s “Aladdin,” takes place in Arabia (hence the name). This Middle Eastern peninsula is certainly a distinct location, and it definitely shines through in the island! Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look.

Right away on our Poptropicans’ adventure, we are greeted with “Episode 1: How Bazaar.” The title itself is a pun, playing off the term “bazaar” to sound like “how bizarre.” A bazaar, if you were unaware, is a type of Middle Eastern marketplace, which (not coincidentally) is a prominent location on the island.

Pretty cool, right? The colorful fabrics, clothing, and items for sale certainly catch the eye. But perhaps even more impressive, we have the palace to visit!

I personally find the architecture of the Middle East to be a particularly remarkable characteristic of the area, but maybe that’s just my inner art history nerd coming out? Either way, the design in Poptropica seems to match up pretty well to its inspiration, so let’s take a look on the inside as well!

Poptropica’s palace atrium (left) is busier than our reference photo (right), but it sure does add interest to the adventure! I think that the game really did stay true to its inspiration, even with their color/detail additions. What do you think?

Stepping further away from the bustling market, however, we could also take a look at the less populated areas of the island. Even if a huge Lair of Thieves is tough to find IRL, there are definitely still cave systems we could investigate. And, like in Poptropica, maybe we can find some salt and other minerals to trade!

Why don’t we take a camel and keep traveling away from the market, further into the desert next? And now we happen upon an oasis!

Even in this largely desert landscape, it’s cool to see the pops of color that show up. The Poptropica Creators really took advantage of their inspiration when designing this island, huh?

But what do you guys think? Have you ever been to the Middle East? Does the comparison match up to your expectations? What other islands do you want to see in this series? Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts below!

Farewell, fellow travelers, and good night!

~SD