PHB Review: Greek Sea Odyssey Island

greek sea odyssey review

Haven’t completed your epic journey yet? Check out our Greek Sea Odyssey Island Guide!

Hello, Poptropicans!

With the recent release of Poptropica Worlds’ third island adventure, Greek Sea Odyssey, we wanted to share what we thought of it and, in the comments, open the discussion to all of you as well. So here it is: our comprehensive review of Greek Sea Odyssey Island! We’ll cover story, mechanics, visuals, and more. Let’s set sail!

Be warned: This review contains spoilers!

Storyline & Characters

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Let’s begin with a quick overview of the island: You arrive in Athens to discover that the tyrannical god, Zeus, won’t leave the citizens alone as they try to develop the world’s first democracy right here in ancient Greece. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, embarks you on a journey by sending you on a sea voyage, alongside Theseus, to collect three sacred items to topple Zeus.

Undoubtedly, we collect all three of the sacred items and get to encounter many cool Greek mythological figures along the way, like Daedalus as Disastrous Daddy, Dionysius as Drunken Party Ruiner, and Hippolyta as I’ve-Had-Enough Matriarch — all new to Poptropica! Though each character (and creatures like the Cyclops and Gryphon) brought something unique to the adventure, the most interesting character was probably Icarus, who was given a modern spin as emo teenager mixed with his mythological roots of hardcore harp, all while sulking at his petty father.

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Meeting lots of new characters was a plus. The premise was also interesting, and well executed: a sea odyssey in search of powerful items inspired by several Greek tales. And, it took a different turn from what we were expecting (we had speculated a remake for Mythology Island from Poptropica Original)—but a good one.

Gameplay

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Greek Sea Odyssey seemed a little short, with less challenging tasks in comparison to islands from Poptropica Original, a lament voiced by many players in the community. (An example of a less challenging task would be the rock-paper-scissors game with Cyclops, who’s daft enough to have only one move! But maybe that’s just his character. One part that could’ve been difficult, the Gryphon chase, allows you to skip over the challenge if you fall too many times and just choose to “go ahead” in the game.)

On the one hand, it’s kind of nice to have the difficulty toned down, since challenging puzzles could get frustrating on Poptropica Original. On the other hand, the challenge aspect now feels almost too dialed back, leaving us with not much to test our wits or maneuvering abilities. Even in the ending, it wasn’t too hard to skip over some orbs, and once we got to the top, Zeus relinquished his throne without another duel—not even with words (well, there was a little exchange, but nothing dependent on the player).

For the amount of time it took to wait for this new island release (over 7 months since 24 Carrot Island, and 4 months if we’re counting Dr. Hare’s Revenge), we were expecting to have a greater adventure to go onand for it to end with a more climactic boss battle than it did.

There’s also been some funny business at the final showdown with Zeus. When players were struck by one of the electric orbs, it was like a never-ending death strike that took you all the way down to the bottom, forcing you to start over. We’re not sure if this is a glitch or not, but it’s not exactly a fun challenge either way.

On a more positive note, the audio experience of the adventure, engineered by Creator Kyle Fox, was well-crafted. Not only was there ambient music that matched moods at various scenes, but even down in the Minotaur’s labyrinth as we plodded through sludge to get to the Cyclops, we could hear the effects of our footsteps sloshing their way through. Now that’s attention to detail!

Visuals

The different scenes in this island are absolutely captivating. From the details in the Minotaur’s labyrinth to the stunning background scenery, you can tell that a lot of thought and work went into every visual. The Athena statue in the Parthenon was especially breathtaking! Check out some of the designs in the gallery below.

Whether you noticed them or not, there were numerous cultural references and interactive bits throughout the island. Some of these include Wonder Woman’s cameo in Themiscyra, The Bolt sword from Legendary Swords in the labyrinth, the unicorn in the bushes, and probably the most notable, the Sound of Silence song reference from Snakehead. Many Poptropicans found these quite enjoyable — we did too!

Verdict

All things considered—from the unique storyline mashing many Greek legends, to well-crafted characters, to not-so-challenging puzzles, to gorgeous Grecian scenes with witty references—our final rating for Greek Sea Odyssey is…

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The wait for this island was excruciating for many players, especially since we barely saw any sneak peeks for what was to come (too little, to be honest).

We were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t simply a remake of the popular Mythology Island on Poptropica Original, but rather a whole new story with lots of new faces along the way. Greek Sea Odyssey turned out to be a wonderful ride, albeit on the short end compared to other Poptropica islands (though about the same length as other Worlds islands, so this may be a pattern that sticks around). The challenges could have been amped up a notch or two as well. On the whole, though, there’s lots to love.

With its interweaving of Greek legends, fun details, excellent audio/visuals, and more, we’ve decided to award Greek Sea Odyssey 4/5 Grecian urns. Here’s to more odysseys in the near future for Poptropica!


Thanks for reading our review of Greek Sea Odyssey Island! How do you think this adventure compared to its sort-of prequel, Mythology Island? Do you agree with our verdict? Share your opinions in the comments below!

– the PHB team –

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Book Review: Poptropica’s “The End of Time”

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Hey Poptropicans! In this post, we’re going to take a good look at Poptropica: The End of Time, the fourth and final book in the Poptropica graphic novel series, which released September 12, 2017. It’s going to be a long post, but a good one!

You can get the book on Amazon, which ships worldwide (plus, it’s currently 25% off!). If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to check out the first 3 books in the series: Mystery of the Map (which also has an island in the game, reviewed here), The Lost Expedition (review here), and The Secret Society (review here). And now, onto the review!

A Spoiler-Free Overview

Good book reviews tend not to give away the entire story, so for this segment, we’ll be sticking to a (relatively) spoiler-free discussion of events. However, because this is a Poptropica fan blog and we tend to discuss as much Poptropica as we can, the rest of the review is going to have to give away some pertinent details (but we won’t ruin the whole reading experience for you). So here’s an overview of the book from us:

Following the events of The Secret Society, the trio – Mya, Jorge, and Oliver – are more lost than ever in their quest to find their way home. And Octavian is still in the picture, but as the way forward looks bleaker, it seems that all of them are wondering the same thing: What if their lives had been different? With flashbacks to events in each of their lives, the plot culminates as the Nexus is discovered. Known as the “heart of Poptropica,” its very existence (finally) explains Poptropica’s relation with the timeline of history on Earth as we know it as well as the presence of seemingly bizarre twists of our reality.

With the Nexus, it becomes possible to change fate itself. But who will go for it, and what’s at stake? As each character reflects on their own stories, we’re taken through both heartwarming and heart-wrenching times, and we ourselves may wonder what the cost of rewriting our own histories might be. With deep themes on the power of choice and treasuring the life we have, The End of Time is a brilliant conclusion to the Poptropica series that fans of all ages can resonate with.

Now the following segments are going to have some spoilers, so if possible, we recommend that you read the book first so we don’t ruin too many surprises.

Storyline

The story picks up where we last left off in The Secret Society, the previous book in the series. Having brought about a cataclysm in the only place they knew to be safe, the trio – Jorge, Mya, and Oliver – are more concerned than ever about whether they’ll actually find a way out of Poptropica safely and return home. However, what makes The End of Time stand out from the rest of the Poptropica books are the flashbacks: we get glimpses into the lives of our main characters before this whole mess happened. (Plus, we learn the surnames of each of the kids!)

Octavian is our first flashback – and yes, he’s still alive. Octavian, as we know, was a member of the Secret Society that protected Poptropica. And now we see what turned him to rebellion: he meets a lady, Paulla, in 79 A.D. Pompeii, just before the infamous volcanic eruption that buried the Roman town. He would have saved her, of course, if it weren’t for the Secret Society’s #1 rule: History must be preserved at all costs. That’s why he’s been messing with the timeline: he’ll do anything to be reunited with his lover.

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Meanwhile, Mya blames Oliver for the mess they are in, since he was the one to pull the plug on the Aegis earlier. In the next couple of flashbacks, we see that their sibling rivalry goes way back – in fact, we see how they became siblings in the first place. Mya’s mother had passed away, leaving Mya Wong with her dad, and Oliver’s father had walked out on their family, leaving Oliver Hartman with his mom. The two single parents somehow met, and eventually Kevin (Mya’s dad) married Sandy (Oliver’s mom). While Oliver was ecstatic to have his family expand, Mya is very clear to him about her feelings at the wedding, telling him: “…You are not my brother.”

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Back to present day, the trio finds Jonas (the right-hand man of the Secret Society operation with Spencer Albright) still alive, albeit barely able to walk. But Jonas has a plan, thanks to a secret project Spencer started, which actually explains how Poptropica is connected to the real world as we know it (and where the kids came from). With the help of a secret submarine, they begin to make their way to the Nexus, or the heart of Poptropica – a land of limitless time crystals.

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Oh, and Octavian has snuck his way on board the submarine – but before we deal with him, we’re taken to another flashback, starring Jorge Flores. The younger Jorge would love to play with his friends, but his mother’s overprotectiveness hasn’t exactly helped his street cred. Stuck with having just his mom for company, the two of them head to A-1 Balloon Tours, which, if you remember from Mystery of the Map, is where this all began. In a last-minute weight limit revelation, Jorge is directed to a balloon away from his mother, where he meets Oliver and Mya for the first time.

Now back to Octavian and the gang – now faced with having to spend time together on a submarine on autopilot, Octavian spills his heart about his desire to save Paulla, at the cost of everything else that his interference with the timeline entailed, including dragging the trio of kids into Poptropica, which, it turns out, he couldn’t care less about. And then they arrive at the Nexus.

This is where things get the most interesting. An unexpected guest shows up: Spencer Albright, the head of the Secret Society who was formerly erased from history by Octavian. Isn’t he supposed to be dead?! Well, as Spencer explains, he is gone from one time stream – but lives on in many others. As it turns out, he was wrong about something too: Poptropica doesn’t have just one history that needs protecting; instead, there are infinitely many possible time streams, and each one is as real as the next.

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Of course, this begs the question the other characters have been wondering: can they change just one thing about their lives that they wish was different? The answer is yes – and each of them take turns touching the main crystal that allows them glimpses of their lives altered. Octavian, not too surprisingly, leaps at the chance, and is soon taken into the alternate time stream he prefers. Mya and the rest are tempted, too… but in the end, the trio decides, each individually but with the help of each other’s insights, that changing the things they wish so badly were different in their lives is not worth losing what they all have together.

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With the portal of timeline travel right in front of them, the trio can finally head home – together – but before they do, Spencer puts Jonas in charge of the Secret Society, handing over his time crystal necklace for future adventures in protecting Poptropica. The kids each get one, too, promising to come back if Poptropica ever needs their help. And with that, they jump back into the time stream that lands them right back into their A-1 Balloon Tour. Though their balloon has had a crash landing, it seems no time at all has passed in their world, and everyone – including the parents – are glad they’re back.

Character Development

All the main characters really get a chance to shine in The End of Time, and not only do they learn something about themselves and their lives, their journey also brings them closer to the one(s) they love.

Everyone can’t help but wonder how things could have been different in their lives, but no one wants things to change as badly as Mya. Ever since her mother’s death, Mya can’t help but think that she was robbed of the life she was supposed to have. When Octavian gives his spiel about losing Paulla, both in the submarine and at the Nexus, it’s Mya who’s leaning the closest – Mya actually feels for Octavian in those moments.

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Octavian, of course, doesn’t hesitate to jump into the time stream where he will be with Paulla, once the opportunity presents himself. It makes sense, since it was his one and only goal in life to be reunited with her. Despite his villainous track record with the kids, he still has his humanizing moments when he explains that everything he did, he did for Paulla, even at the cost of almost killing the kids (and erasing Spencer from one time stream) for being in the way of his mission to get her back. Even to the end, he still holds resentment against Spencer for trying to stop him.

Although it’s kind of nice to see Octavian get his happy ending, he never really shows remorse towards the kids. But perhaps, like real life, we just have to accept that some people simply won’t be sorry, and the best we can do is part ways with them. And it also shows a dimensionality to his character: we can’t consider Octavian purely a villain, because his intentions were good, but at the same time, he cared so much about one person that he neglected to care about many others.

The choice to alter their lives, however, is not so clear for the three kids. For easygoing Oliver, he loves his new family – but he still misses his biological father. But a glimpse into a possible future with him reveals something he hadn’t expected: in Oliver’s words, “My dad’s kind of a jerk.” The friendship-starved Jorge has a similar revelation when it’s his turn at the omniscient crystal: the “friends” he knew turn out to be kind of jerks, too.

And it’s when Jorge realizes that he’s met his best friends right here, in Poptropica, that Mya finally gets on board with everything her life has become. She may not have her mother anymore in this time stream, but if she did, she wouldn’t have met Oliver and Jorge. It’s a conflicting choice, having to choose one version of events over another – but in the end, Mya decides that the life she has with Oliver and Jorge is what things have turned out to be in this particular time stream, and she’s able to find satisfaction in that. We might wonder if we would have had the courage to say the same about our own lives.

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So in the end, all our main characters are able to find what they’re looking for. For Octavian, he remains his Paulla-centered self, never truly feeling the effects of all the damage he caused along the way. For the kids, they gain a newfound appreciation for what life has thrown at them, in both good times and bad. Even though there are things they thought they wanted to change, all three of them have come full circle to realize that their struggles have played important roles in each of their lives.

Fun References

Just like in the previous books, The End of Time contains various references to popular culture, which are always fun to find. We’ll bring up the ones we found interesting, but there may be more surprises in the book!

In a flashback to a past Christmas, Mya is given a box set of a Philip Pullman trilogy called “His Dark Materials.” Of the fantasy novels, Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife are seen on p. 19 and The Amber Spy Glass is on p. 24. (Side note: Northern Lights was published as The Golden Compass in North America, and has a film version as well.) What’s even more interesting is that Mitch Krpata, the author of The End of Time, shared in an interview with the PHB that he absolutely loves the “His Dark Materials” trilogy and even named his daughter after the main character, Lyra. So, it’s a nice plug for one of his favorite book series!

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Although it could perhaps be assumed based on the locations of Poptropica HQ and the people who made this graphic novel happen, we can see that “home” for our trio of kiddos (Mya, Jorge, Oliver) is the United States. On p. 21, as Mya goes through a sequence of events, her surroundings hint at a rather American lifestyle and traditions such as the 4th of July (American flag included) and Halloween (with other kids dressed up as Harry Potter and The Joker). (Curiously, there’s even a church scene.)

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On p. 41, Oliver’s mother’s phone contacts include Jack Chabert (pen name of Max Brallier, author of the first Poptropica graphic novel and Galactic Hot Dogs, whose icon is F.R.E.D. from GHD), Jess Brallier (Poptropica’s former president, whose icon is Zeus), C. Kochman (likely Charles Kochman, a publisher at Abrams who is credited at the back of the book, whose icon is a Poptropican with black hair and beard), Chad B. (likely Chad Beckerman, also from Abrams and credited at the back, whose icon is a Poptropican with glasses, spiky gray hair and stubble), Oliver Sr. (Oliver’s finger covers his picture), and Jeff Kinney (whose icon is Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

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The cereal Oliver eats (also p. 41) is called Sugar Bombs, which is a cereal found in the Fallout video game series.

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While none of the Poptropica islands we know from the game actually appears by name or scenery in the graphic novels, p. 81 does include a reference to Crisis Caverns Island, as Jorge panics about the possibility of encountering a “giant worm or mole person!”

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At the discovery of the Nexus (p. 84), the characters contemplate worlds of alternate realities, many of which refer to our real world, except of course the events are slightly different. We see the Soviets land on the moon first, Pepsi reign as the #1 cola drink, and Hillary Clinton inaugurated as US President.

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Other alternate worlds (or time streams), Jonas explains, may be wildly different from our own, and that’s where we get the more unique islands and characters like Binary Bard from Astro-Knights Island.

Conclusion: 5/5 time crystals

All things considered, The End of Time feels like a solid conclusion to the Poptropica graphic novel series. In fact, it may even be the best book of the series. Of course, you’ll want to have the other books to make the most sense out of it, but even on its own, it tells a striking story about facing up to your past and living in your present.

We learned a bit about how Poptropica works in The Secret Society – islands float up from time to time, stopping by on “the highway of history” – but The End of Time expands on this and fills in the gaps. In this book, we find out more about the nature of Poptropica, especially in relation to our real world; we learn about the Nexus, which is the one spot where these islands surface, and where we can jump from one time stream to infinitely many others, sometimes with bizarre creations. It makes our understanding of Poptropica a whole lot richer, and it would be awesome to see this brought to the game as well. And islands for the latter three books in the series would be amazing, too.

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Perhaps the greatest theme for this book was the whole idea of what Spencer called “finding meaning in struggle.” Because we all struggle, and we don’t usually have the time crystals to escape it. But we can wallow in our struggles for the longest time like Mya, or kick everyone out of our way in our quest to regain our own strength like Octavian – or we can learn to live with the fact that things are not always as we hope, as the kids eventually did. One way or another – whether through a perplexed acceptance or a hope in a divine hand – each of us can find the silver lining to our dark storm clouds.

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This story is full of adventure and has its fair share of bittersweet moments, culminating into a fine ending for a fine book series that any Poptropica fan can enjoy. In case you haven’t already, you should catch up with the first three books in the series as well. Whether you’re looking for thought-provoking themes or just a fun read, you can find them with the Poptropica series.

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Thanks for sticking with us in this long post – this may even have ended up taking up more words than the book itself (oops). Anyway, be sure to pick up your copy of The End of Time, and share your thoughts and criticisms in the comments below!

📘📕📗📙

PHB Review: The New New 24 Carrot Island (Worlds)

24 carrot review

Haven’t ousted the Hare yet? Check out our 24 Carrot Island Guide (for Worlds).

Hey there, Poptropicans!

As you may have heard, a remastered version of the classic 24 Carrot Island was released on Poptropica Worlds not too long ago, making it the second island adventure on Worlds. And we’ve got to say, it’s a whole lot better than Crisis Caverns.

Here’s a short animation the Creators recently put out to highlight the new 24 Carrot:

24 Carrot Island was originally released in 2008 as the fourth island, then re-released as a SUI (sound-updated island) in 2013. Now, in 2017, it’s back for the third time, making it the New New 24 Carrot! It’s undergone some modifications, which we’ll be covering in this review. Warning: Spoilers ahead. (We suggest playing the island before reading on!)

With that out of the way, let’s get into the review of the New New!

Storyline & Characters

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Since this is a remastered island, the plot of the adventure mostly keeps to the original story, with a few twists added into the mix.

The premise is this: You land on the island, and the mayor tells you that all the carrots have disappeared, causing financial disaster to the whole town. And guess what? You have to be the one who finds them! Yaay! 😀

So, as long as the thirsty carrot lovers cry over their precious vegetable gone missing, your investigation begins! If you’ve already played 24 Carrot on Poptropica Original, you know how it goes – but the Worlds versions comes with new surprises. Namely:

  • While the Movie Theater used to be a common room, it’s now been turned into a new space called the Carrot Museum, which displays various carrot trivia. (You can find it all on our 24 Carrot Guide.) It seems that such museums are going to be a staple feature of Worlds islands, as Crisis Caverns had its Visitor’s Center for similar displays as well.
  • The Carrot Museum is host to a new character named Rhonda, a carrot-crazy lady dressed in a big carrot suit. Possibly more nightmarish than the infamous Jersey Devil of Cryptids Island.
  • Various characters have new lines. The additional dialogue makes for a richer experience overall!
  • Some graphics have been improved. We’ll talk more about this in the Visuals section down below.
  • Remember how the lady in the diner gives you free milk in the original? Well, screw that, because she now wants tips! 😛
  • The diner doesn’t have a hair colorizer. Much sad. We want the Colorizer back!
  • Whiskers the cat is now trapped inside of a newly-added barn space, caged there as bait for catching Dr. Hare (why Dr. Hare would fall for cats, we have no idea).
  • A new character, a man named Maynard, is behind Whiskers’s disappearance. He’s an ex-minion of Dr. Hare’s who escaped from the factory.
  • To get the factory blueprints, you have to give Maynard a metal part that can be found just outside the factory.
  • There’s no Carrot Transporter in this reboot.
  • The Smelter Room is gone. Instead, when you fall, you end up at a part of the vents where you can pick up a pair of Drone Ears.
  • The final destruction of Dr. Hare’s rabbot looks quite different. We’ll get to that in the Gameplay section of this review.

We really like this mix of old and new. It feels familiar, yet it’s not the exact same package as before. It feels like just the right touch of nostalgia, yet also with various improvements made to contribute to a richer story with relatable, comical characters. The additions of Rhonda and Maynard make the experience more interesting, and it’s also great to see the original cast of characters turned into Worlds avatars.

Gameplay

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This island is full of platforming and obstacle-dodging. From the flapping trapdoors of the pipe entrance to the boxes spitting out of factory machines, all the classic maneuvering mechanics are there. Again, those who’ve played the original version might find it familiar – and as a plus, there weren’t too many glitches to speak of.

The biggest difference is probably the new mini-game at the end of the island, the final showdown with Dr. Hare. In the original version, you moved the rabbot to hit four meteors, which would destroy the machine. In Poptropica Worlds, the rabbot sends mind-control droids down to earth, and you have to shoot at all twenty of them using a carrot cannon conveniently perched over the factory.

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Gameplay-wise, this change provides a bit of an extra challenge from the original. And story-wise, this change is significant. In the original, there isn’t quite enough to tell us what exactly motivates Dr. Hare to steal all the carrots and then run off to space, but in the Worlds version, we’re told that Dr. Hare wants to mind-control the entire planet from space. Now there’s a big motive!

Visuals (Art Direction)

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Once again, the Poptropica artists prove their skill in crafting a stunning visual environment. It’s simply one of the best parts of Poptropica, and in this island remake, they’ve upped the ante and made things better than ever. Now, trees sway ominously in the background, the signpost weakly flashes “Rot Land,” and even the gas guy has a spiffy new cap. Little details here and there all help to immerse you into the story.

The lighting and shading is all well placed, and the color scheme really creates a dreary, but not completely hopeless mood. Just take a look at this sampling of snapshots below:

Check out those yellow and brown hues! Of course, the mood shifts drastically at the end of the island when all is made right again, and the bright blues really make you feel like you’ve turned the whole place around with your hard work. It’s all quite beautiful.

Keep up the good work, Poptropica artists and animators!

Verdict

From the re-interpreted story that mixes a perfect dose of nostalgia and novelty, to the combination of familiar and new gameplay elements, and of course, the well-placed artistic details to supplement the story, it’s clear that this remastered version of 24 Carrot is a wonderful and welcome addition to Poptropica Worlds.

Compared to the first Worlds island, Crisis Caverns, this island is definitely an improvement. Minor drawbacks are a few glitches and quite a bit of back-and-forth movement, but it’s still a step in the right direction. Our verdict: 4/5 carrot boxes.

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Thanks for reading our review! We’re excited for what’s next in Poptropica Worlds, but we’re sure the kids from the factory – Shy Sky, Sleepy Bird, Magic Socks, and Crazy Comet – are just happy to be away from the crazy old Hare.

24 Carrot Diner: The Gang’s All Back! by SlantedFish on DeviantArt

Which version of 24 Carrot Island do you like best, the one on Poptropica Original or Worlds? Share your thoughts in the comments!

– the PHB team –

P.S. For the perspective of just one player, who lent his insights to this review, check out Purple Claw’s review originally posted on Clawtropica.

In the Eyes of a Newbie: Poptropica Original vs Worlds

This post originally appeared on The Pop Blog and is being shared on the PHB courtesy of the author, LillySparkle$. See the bottom of this post for how you, too, can write for the PHB!

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Hey guys, today I am here with a rather unusual yet interesting post: we’re going to see Poptropica from the eyes of a newbie who’s never played before.

Since most of us reading this have probably been with Poptropica for a while, our opinions about the new Worlds are heavily influenced by the Poptropica we’ve gotten to know. But have you ever wondered what Poptropica looks like in the eyes of a little kid playing for the first time? Which would he like better: the new or the classic?

We’re going to dive in by introducing my friend Super Bug (that’s his Poptropican name) – a seven-year-old boy who’s never played Pop – to the game of our childhoods.

To keep things even, this commentary is only about his play-throughs of one island on each: Monkey Wrench on the original, and Crisis Caverns on Worlds.

Poptropica Original

I got Super Bug started on this one first because I think it’s always better to start with the originals. I helped him pick a name and get the basic customization. Then, he went to the tutorial of Monkey Wrench Island and figured things out on his own.

He said he enjoyed the action, specifically when the Red Baroness throws the wrench at the airplane. He liked the controls of the game, like climbing and jumping: “I felt like a ninja playing it!” He thought that “the floating head is sorta creepy and sorta funny!” His favorite parts of playing were the action, solving problems, and the puzzles, such as the one with the rock and the crab.

His only complaint was that the Red Baroness was “mean and didn’t want them to win the race.” When I asked for any final word on the game, he gave the descriptive answer of “it was good.” So there you have it!

Poptropica Worlds

Design-wise, Super Bug said he liked Poptropica Worlds because they had “necks which made them less scary.” Like the original, he said he liked the mini games and challenges. He had so much fun!

He loved the geysers (water-shooting rock formations) you could jump on in Crisis Caverns. He enjoys the jumping because it was “much further than a human jump” and made you feel “like a superhero!” He loves the idea of houses as well and had lots of fun playing around with his!

He doesn’t like the difficulty of controls that was different from the first one. Overall, he said it was “good.”

The Verdict

Before I tell you which Poptropica he picked as the winner, I want to add in how Poptropica could actually be quite educational for kids. I never really noticed it before since I am older, but Super Bug had tons of fun reading the characters and giving them specific voices. He loved solving the problems and thinking of solutions. It was a really cool thing to see, and it took me by surprise!

So, when asked which one he liked better, he chose… both!?

And I am not making this up or anything. He played through both and said he couldn’t pick! He liked both for different reasons, and he thought the game was so fun! He loved every minute of playing both games! I am really excited to see him completing more and more islands.

Well that about sums up the first taste of both Poptropicas, as experienced by a seven-year-old. And because he is only seven, his answers and reviews on Poptropica aren’t the most complex or detailed, but that’s fine. What matters is that he had fun and enjoyed the game!

Hope this was an eye-opener for you guys! Let me know in the comments if you remember any first thoughts you had about Poptropica as a kid, or just your thoughts on the whole ordeal!

 Signing out,

Lills (Maroon Jumper)


Hope you enjoyed this guest post by LillySparkle$! Be sure to check out her site, The Pop Blog.

The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. You can find some tips and guidelines on our Write for the PHB page. We also encourage sharing blog posts on the PHC.

If you have an idea for a blog post, send it in to staff@poptropicahelp.net:)

PHB Quickie: Mission Atlantis (Episode 2) Overview

Hello, everyone!

Lucky Joker here with a shortened review of Mission Atlantis Ep. 2: Fortress of the Deep. For a full review of the entire island, check out our earlier Mission Atlantis Review!

Although this island came out a few years ago, it’s nice to remember that Poptropica has built up a big collection of islands we can re-play to our heart’s content, and this is just one of many. So let’s dive in!

As the second installment of Mission Atlantis series, this episode has a lot to accomplish — primarily to top the previous episode as well as getting players hooked. While this alien-based story develops, players need to embrace this new atmosphere to appreciate the rest of the game. That said, did it achieve its goal, or did it sink far beyond return?

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The episode starts off where the last one ended – you’ve discovered an other-worldly sunken ship, and your job is to investigate. One of the many things they nailed in this episode is the atmosphere. It differs drastically from the previous episode, implementing an eerie edge. This edge keeps you on guard, especially when you find the shark area. The scenery is truly captivating and works well with the mysterious tone.

Compared to many of Poptropica’s best islands, the story is fairly substandard. The feeling of loneliness didn’t quite work as well here as it did in Steamworks Island. Encountering some underwater civilians, or having a goal other than opening the circular door would have made the story a lot more interesting.

However, compared to Into the Deep (Episode 1), Episode 2 does leave you asking more questions like “What’s up with those glyphs?”, and “What’s inside the ship?” Unanswered questions are a good thing, in my opinion, especially in an episodic adventure. Near the end, Fortress of the Deep leaves quite the cliffhanger: your player is somehow sucked into the ship! Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe a little bit of both…

Overall, I’d give this episode 3.5/5 stars. The soundtrack was nice, the story was okay, and most importantly, it did its job — making us curious about what is going to happen next.

That about wraps up this quick review! What did you think of Fortress of the Deep? Let me know! Thanks for reading, I’ll talk to you soon.

-Lucky Joker

Book Review: Poptropica’s “The Secret Society”

Hey Poptropicans – get ready for some secrets to be spilled to society!

In this post, the PHB takes on the latest Poptropica graphic novel release, The Secret Society, which came out this April.  You can get this book – the third in the series – on Amazon and some bookstores. This review will discuss the storyline, presentation, characters, and more – so be prepared for some (but not all) spoilers if you read on.

If you aren’t quite caught up with the plot, be sure to check out Mystery of the Map (the first in the series) both as an island you can play on Poptropica right now or read in graphic novel format (either on our Comics page or in the print version as a book). Following that is The Lost Expedition (the second book), for which we recently published a review here (and of course, you should check out the book as well).

And now, let’s get into the review!

Storyline

The story picks up where The Lost Expedition left off, with the kids trapped on board the mysterious Secret Society’s hovercraft. They finally reach their destination, the headquarters of the Secret Society, where they meet the leader Spencer Albright, who explains just enough of what’s going on for the kids to catch up. Here’s where we get the interesting knowledge of how exactly the Poptropica timeline works. Ready?

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As Spencer Albright explains, Poptropica is a unique holding place for islands throughout the timeline of history to just chill, but interfering with their events could have major consequences, which is why the Protectors are there to stop such meddling. As we know from the previous books, Octavian has a time device and is doing some unlawful meddling – and it’s starting to have some negative side effects on history.

So, as Albright and the Protectors scramble to undo the damage – which isn’t going very well – the kids take it upon themselves to help. As worse comes to worse, tensions rise, and each character finds themselves struggling to work together, with personal reasons getting in the way.

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Eventually, we get to face Octavian up close, who is seen ferrying the people he cares about, including a lover – the ones he is willing to destroy history to save. And with some explosive encounters, the kids – in particular, Oliver – finally figures out what he must do to put a stop to Octavian’s out-of-control attempts at control. But even still, they’re not out in the clear just yet… and that’s where we wait for book 4 to wrap up the tale.

Presentation

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As with the other books, illustrator Kory Merritt brings a very distinct style to the pages, characterized by thin lines, gradient coloring, and comical details.

Although the art style is different from what we see in the Poptropica game, it fits into the comics. Often, facial expressions are exaggerated, sometimes to a point where they look a little odd, but that’s the way it goes. Personally, I find the textures and simple lines to be a bit hit-or-miss: while they can work quite well in some scenes (such as the depictions of the Aegis and volcanic lava), at other times they feel incomplete, with shapes merely given a little color.

Something that the illustrations do well in are the sweeping larger-scale panels, which depict whole scenes but also include little details, such as in the spread above of the hovercraft and its whimsical path and frightened seabirds. We also get to visit a couple of exciting places from history: ancient Egypt and Mount Vesuvius.

In addition, this book’s illustrations has some interesting little details embedded within! For example, there is a reference to the meme of Joseph Ducruex (Archaic Rap) hanging on one of Albright’s walls. Later, you can also catch Jorge reading a magazine with Dr. Hare’s portrait on it. What other tidbits did you catch?

Even the inside covers are cleverly done with maps, like the previous two books. This one is especially interesting, because unlike the other two books, they start and end with the same magical map – except with changes reflecting the beginning and end! In both, you can see that we’ve started and ended similarly – flying just above a certain island in the hovercraft.

Characters & Conflicts

In our review of book 2The Lost Expedition, author Mitch Krpata left a comment about one of the main characters in book 3: “The Secret Society focuses a little more on Oliver, and his conflict about what leadership to follow.”

And indeed, Oliver is often faced with challenges with others. But he’s very determined about his convictions, even in the face of disagreements. There are a few times in the story when he’s conflicted with his sister Mya about the right thing to do. But the bigger question for him is, are his decisions any better than the villainous Octavian’s?

Mya, for her part, is unafraid of diving headfirst into places where she sees a possibility of saving people, sometimes ignoring the dangers that come with those options. Oliver adamantly opposes, but as things heat up (quite literally), he begins to realize that interference can be in his hands (again, quite literally).

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Meanwhile, Jorge continues to be the self-concerned comic relief of the series, his mind often thinking more of food than the mission at hand. Still, as he continues to see his friends so invested in the issues surrounding them, he starts to care a little more as the story progresses. Perhaps we’ll see even more development from Jorge in the final book.

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Early in this installment, we’re introduced to a new character, Spencer Albright, the leader of the Secret Society. Despite kidnapping our favorite trio, the Secret Society of Protectors turn out to be the good guys – at least as far as we can tell. As Spencer explains, their goal is to prevent people from meddling with history, protecting the strange timeline of islands of various time periods that randomly stop by in the realm of Poptropica. Nobody is allowed to intervene with the course of history.

The Secret Society headquarters houses an impressive collection of ancient artifacts from history, some of which later get erased. As dangers rise, Spencer – who we learn is descended from Egyptian nobility – finds his very existence a point of conflict as well.

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We also meet Jonas, Spencer’s trusty right-hand man. He seems at first to be an easy-going fellow, happy to play his part in helping the Secret Society. However, as worse comes to worse, things get very personal for the protégé – and his actions become fraught with emotion, making his character’s development also an interesting one.

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Finally, of course, there is Octavian, who brought the kids into this mess back in book 1. And now we see the reason he’s causing all this madness in the first place: he has a lover, and he’ll stop at nothing to get her back. We don’t know their story just yet, but we do know Octavian won’t stop bending history until they’re reunited.

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Octavian also seems to have some history with Spencer Albright, and it’s clear the two don’t agree on the right approach for handling the power they have for controlling the timeline of history. So far, things have only turned into a real hot mess, leaving us to wonder how things will play out in the end.

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Consumed by his intentions, Octavian forgets he erases others’ good in history for the sake of his own desires.

Closing Thoughts: 4.5/5

On the whole, The Secret Society is an excellent continuation of the trio’s adventures from the earlier Poptropica graphic novels. While we had some questions answered, such as what exactly Octavian and the Secret Society was up to, we were opened up to new questions, like how Octavian and Spencer came to such drastically different views for operating the timeline. Because of the deeper insights into how Poptropica islands worked, I thought that this book contained more meat than the others so far.

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I also was intrigued by the whole history-alteration plot, and the book raised interesting questions about how we might act towards things we could control, as well as things we couldn’t control. It brings up conflicts about systems put in place for protection, and about following our own gut versus listening to others. Though the story is fiction, it depicts a reality in our own world: we don’t get to choose the way everything is, but we do get to decide how we respond. And how we respond, of course, has ripples.

Oliver asks the very thought-provoking question, “Do we stop every bad thing that’s ever happened? Why do we get to decide?” Unless we have a time device like these characters do – and even for them, it is limited – we don’t get to undo everything we don’t like. We see these characters realizing that some things are within their control while recognizing that other things are not. And that’s something every one of us has to deal with, too.

The story contains both comedic moments and serious ones, and overall, it’s a fun book for any Poptropica fan. It’ll leave you hanging on for what comes next as we await the final book, The End of Time, coming out this fall of 2017…

Have you read The Secret Society yet? What do you think of the story, particularly with regard to what it says about the structure of the Poptropica universe? And would you change the course of history for any ulterior motive?

Share your thoughts, concerns, and criticisms in the comments below!

Keep popping,
–slantedfish 🐠

PHB Review: Crisis Caverns Island

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Crisis not yet averted? Check out our Crisis Caverns Island Guide.

Hey Poptropicans! It’s been a few weeks since Poptropica Worlds released – and with it, Crisis Caverns Island. We’ve shared our thoughts about Worlds, and now, it’s time for us to delve into its first and only island adventure. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s pop right in…

Storyline & Characters

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Let’s begin with a simplified summary: You arrive at Caldera State Park and soon find out there’s a supervolcano here that’s on the verge of eruption. Being the nosy curious Poptropican you are, you poke around and eventually find yourself going deeper and deeper into the caves until at last you are captured by “mole people” who live underground. You also encounter the chthonians, monsters who have declared war on the mole people and are causing the tremors that may soon lead to a volcanic eruption. However, you help make things right, and by the time you pop back up to the surface, all is right with the world again. Well, sort of…

It’s really cool how Poptropica seemed to be inspired by subterranean fiction as a plot to this island, with vibes kind of like Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Subterranean fiction could offer a lot of ideas for a Poptropica island, like a lost world of dinosaurs, Middle-Earth, or even Wonderland! So… it’s a bit baffling that of all the possibilities, they would go with… mole people?

For those who’ve played this island, perhaps you’ll resonate with the thought that, although the premise is interesting, the way it all plays out feels somewhat lacking. There were many opportunities for further exploration of ideas, yet on the whole, the story felt rather rushed from one plot point to the next. The plot leading up to the mole people was okay, but it all went downhill after that. At that point, it was like trying to achieve the climax without first putting on a good foundation.

Looking at a few curious characters, here are some of our questions:

Who, really, are the mole people? Are they human – and whether the answer is yes or no, why do they look so strange, with greenish skin? Is the civilization above aware of their existence? If so, what do they think about them, especially now that they are aware after the quest? How did they get here? Even the first time we see the term “mole people,” it’s just a casual mention by one of the mole people. We also only see a few mole people – king, queen, guards. Where is the rest of the civilization? They are noticeably absent throughout the rest of the caverns.

Also, why chthonians? Their introduction is quite abrupt. You’ve barely met the mole king and queen when they start bombarding you about the chthonians, and we have no idea what they are. Plus, “chthonians” is a long word, and not one many of us are familiar with. Perhaps it would’ve been better to refer to them in simpler terms (beast, worm, creature). And we only had to perform one easy task to appease them, which seems less challenging than a typical Poptropica quest.

And at the visitor’s center, we learn of the missing Dr. Vincent Crispin, founder of Crispin Cave, who had spoken of an underground civilization (the mole people) that no one else believed in. He went too far in his investigations and never returned – but we never do find out what happened to him. Why didn’t we meet him in the mole people’s lair? Did he die – and if so, where is his skeleton? So many questions.

Each character had an interesting design; however, most characters in the park didn’t get as much screen time. Perhaps the park ranger could’ve given a tour deeper into the caves, and it would’ve been nice to see more tourists around the state park.

Despite these confusions, however, meeting the other characters along the way was pretty fun, both in their designs and witty lines. Standouts include the frenemy feud between Hazel and Beatrice, the two old ladies stuck in the cave (“Let’s go somewhere even more depressing: your house”) and the tourist boy who decries the big geyser as “Old Unreliable.” If only we could customize clothing from our new friends!

Gameplay

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Something this island didn’t have, for better or for worse, was a good amount of going back and forth. Given the plot, it makes sense to keep going downward deeper into the caves, but it felt like it needed more exploring and going around.

The mechanics of this island also feel quite repetitive. Having the magnetic belt do the job for almost half the island seems too much. Also, the block-the-geyser mechanism gets repeated twice.

As far as game bugs, there definitely were a few. Some players have experienced bugs like not being able to grab the chthonian egg, the scientists at the park not giving the reward after the second island play-through, and more. Although Poptropica continues to work on fixing these glitches, they could have eliminated more of these issues prior to releasing the island to allow for a smoother player experience.

However, there were some high points as well. The room with the traps, like the statue that squishes you, evoked some Indiana Jones-esque feelings. Also, the slider mini-game is commendable. It really added a bit of a challenge to the island, and it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a slider game from Poptropica!

Overall, it feels as though the bugs and the repetitive aspects overweigh the positive parts of this island experience. Thus, the overall gameplay is so-so.

Visuals

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There’s no doubt about it: the visual style of Crisis Caverns is absolutely stunning. From the captivating crystals to the refined rock carvings, there is so much delightful detail to surround yourself in. The scenery is definitely a highlight of the island.

But despite the beauty, there’s one more crisis that can’t go unmentioned: all the gorgeous designs that were scrapped in the making of this island. It probably happens to every island during the creative process, but it seems this one was especially affected!

We’ve been seeing sneak peeks for this island since 2013, and the island was even declared canceled at one point, so it’s a miracle it’s finally made it onto the big screen of Poptropica Worlds. Along the way, however, a lot of cool ideas didn’t make the cut, but they’re definitely worth admiration:

So grand. Such a waste that these scenes never made it to the game!

Verdict

All things considered, our final verdict for Crisis Caverns Island is…

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We’ve been waiting a long time for Crisis Caverns, and with all the dazzling previews we saw as well as amazing experiences from past islands on Poptropica Original, our expectations were pretty high for the first Worlds island.

It’s clear, however, that the hype and anticipation from players led to a rushed production from the Creators – who had at one point decided not to work on this island due to ideas not quite working out. Although we are grateful that popular demand brought it back, the overall experience still felt somewhat lacking.

While it wasn’t a complete flop – indeed, the art direction continues to be beautiful as ever – other aspects of the island (plot, character, mechanics, bugs) leave quite a bit to be desired. So, we’ve decided to award it a 2.5 out of 5 crystals.

Thanks for reading our review of Crisis Caverns Island! What did you think of the island and this review? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

– the PHB team –