Reviews, Steam Bundle

PHB Review: Poptropica on Steam 💨🎮

Poptropica recently released a bunch of their older islands and more via Steam for about US$20 (or less in some regions). From what’s in it to whether it’s worth it, we’ll be evaluating everything you need to know about this Steam bundle. Let’s pop into it!

What do you need to run the game?

First and foremost, you’ll need access to Steam, the video game distribution platform. Signing up for an account and downloading its app is free and easy. The game will run on both Windows and Mac computers, although M1 Macs (post-Nov 2020) are currently not supported, and Mac users will also need to download Adobe AIR.

Downloading the game requires 2 GB of storage space, and playing the game requires an internet connection and Poptropica account (free).

Running Poptropica on Steam

What’s new with Poptropica on Steam?

Most of the content has lived on the main Poptropica desktop and mobile game before, so playing it is more for nostalgia than novelty.

The only new thing is a twist on the ending of Monster Carnival Island. However, the changes are not particularly significant — just a bit of dialogue changed, with a somewhat less cruel fate for Ringmaster Raven. See what’s new in our updated Monster Carnival Island Guide! 🐦

What else is included in the Steam bundle?

The Steam bundle includes 17 islands (+1 if you count the tutorial, Snagglemast): Mythology (classic)Shrink RayPoptropolis GamesMonster CarnivalTime TangledMystery of the MapVirus Hunter24 CarrotGalactic Hot DogsMocktropica, Escape From Pelican RockReality TV: Wild SafariTimmy Failure, and all episodes of SurvivalPoptropiConArabian Nights, and Mission Atlantis — also known as the AS3 islands, or the newer bunch of the old islands. 🏝Plus, it also comes with the create-your-own-world Realms.

Visiting public Realms

You’ll also have the Flash version of Home Island (with summer scenery), which includes Amelia greeting you on a bridge, your clubhouse and Realms portal at the top, the New You customization building to the left (plus the movies place, closed), and the daily spin wheel, store, pet barn, and Blast-off Arcade to your right.

In terms of features, it’s almost like going back to the 2020 version of Poptropica. You’ll get to access the Costumizer (on all islands, not just PoptropiCon), the crate menu, and the inventory layout with the item cards in two rows and horizontal scrolling. You can also visit common rooms and buy older store items, but can’t access the friends feature nor play in full screen — though it’s still bigger than the desktop version.

No full screen!

Since you’ll need to login to your Pop account, everything’s connected to your save data from Haxe (desktop) Poptropica (formerly Flash) and the mobile app, which means you’ll have all your store items, costumes, pets, clubhouse layout(s), island progress, credits, etc.

Is Poptropica on Steam worth the price? Do we recommend it?

At the risk of sounding like a cop-out answer, it depends! If you can swallow the US$19.99 price tag (varies by country), and are wondering if this is where you want to spend it, these are our recommendations:

👎 If you have Flashpoint (needs Windows and setup): No

You might know that you can revisit these islands and more with Flashpoint, the fan-run preservation project, which is already free. All it needs is a Windows computer and a bit of setup to work. It might occasionally glitch out, but if it works for you, then this Steam bundle won’t add anything new beyond Realms and the minimal changes in Monster Carnival. And if you’re looking to play the oldest of old islands, like Astro-Knights or Super Power, you’ll want Flashpoint, not Steam.

👌 If you have the pre-2022 Pop mobile app: Maybe

For those who have the pre-2022 Poptropica mobile app, the content will be similar — although you do gain Poptropolis Games, Mocktropica, Monster Carnival, Virus Hunter, and Realms, so long as you never update the app. Plus, if you just have the islands on mobile but want to play on the computer, the Steam bundle gives you that option.

👍 If you don’t have Flashpoint: Yes

Mac users will have to jump through more hoops to get Flashpoint working, so if you’d rather save yourself this effort, the Steam game offers an easier option (except for M1 Macs, which are not currently supported). If you can spare the cash, $20 adds up to about $1 per island, for about an hour of gameplay each, which is an OK deal.

Plus if you’ve updated your Pop app since 2022, this is also the only official way to access these old islands. Because of that, it should run more smoothly — if it doesn’t, you can always contact Pop support for a fix. You’ll also be supporting the development of Poptropica with this purchase. It’s true that these islands all used to be free, but alas, times have changed. Better a paid Poptropica than none at all?

Scene from Mocktropica Island

That wraps up the PHB’s review of Poptropica on Steam! You can also read more reviews directly on Steam. Will you be getting the game? What do you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

— the Poptropica Help Blog —

Jade Scarab Island, Reviews

PHB Review: Jade Scarab Island 🪲

Curbed by the curse? Check out our Jade Scarab Island Guide.

You you you! Yes you, adventurer! Have you played Jade Scarab Island yet? The PHB team has had some time to dig in and digest, and now we’re here to share our thoughts with you about this final Dream Island, which released in late April. Beware: spoilers lie ahead!


Storyline & Characters

Soon after Jade Scarab Island was announced as a winner of the Dream Island contest last year, the PHB shared an inside look from Girl Power, the Poptropican who designed the island. Looking back at her original ideas, it’s interesting to compare them to the real thing.

Girl Power’s submission contains extra details not found in the game, particularly in regard to names. This includes: Claira the curator, King Khnurn’s tomb (“reborn sun” in Egyptian), and the village of Iteru (“river” in Egyptian) — in Poptropica, they were all nameless.

However, the game is faithful to some of her other ideas, like the merchant and Howard Diggory. Other ideas are modified — instead of errands of fishing and translating, we’re boosting a camel business and locating a missing excavator. We’re not opposed to the Pop Creators taking creative liberties, but for an island that felt a bit short in playtime, it could have benefitted from more fleshing out of details.

Still, there were lots of fun characters and dialogue. We especially loved the player’s self-aware blimp remark, the busy businessman who rejects your flirting, and of course, the adorable little cat (although that goddess transformation came out of nowhere and left too soon!). 🐱

The reveal and defeat of the villain, the digsite foreman, felt abrupt and anticlimactic. He’s surly throughout the island, so it’s not much of a surprise when he swoops in to attack. However, his identity (though not expression) was part of Girl Power’s plan — she had named the foreman Awantagi (“deceitful person” in Egyptian). We don’t get much time to face him, either: a quick cutscene and it’s all over. Overall, the story is intriguing, but we just wish we could engage with it longer.


Gameplay

At times, the game can run rather slowly, and some players have reported getting locked in scenes. Hopefully the Creators can iron out these glitches soon, but in the meantime if you find yourself stuck somehow, you can restart the island from the map.

When things work, though, exploring Jade Scarab does feel like a classic OG island, with less hand-holding than most of the other new islands. Scanning the desert by flying with the falcon definitely gave us nostalgic vibes for similar mechanics on old islands like Wild West and Cryptids! 🦅

Perhaps the most challenging part of Jade Scarab is the merkhet puzzle. Even with the instructions and animated demonstration, players have been confused about the task at hand. (Our guide can help!) Its uniqueness makes this part interesting, but it also leaves us without much frame of reference for what we’re supposed to do.

Still, other parts struck a decent balance between fun and frustrating. Whether we were making charcoal rubbings or chasing a cat, it was exciting to make discoveries, and rewarding to figure things out.


Audio & Visuals

We love the looks and listens for Jade Scarab, but at the same time, they don’t feel new. Many of the soundtracks are from Arabian Nights Island, including this “Genie Dance” tune. (Hear more on our Pop Music page!)

The desert marketplace and tomb setting feels similar to Arabian Nights, while the ancient Egyptian aesthetics were also a feature of Nabooti Island. Technically, Jade Scarab is a new story with new art, but it doesn’t really break barriers in the Poptropica canon. 🚜

That being said, there are still many cool details to enjoy, like the mix of ancient and modern culture (including traffic honks!), hijab-wearing bystanders, and even Rumpelstiltskin on a ring float.


Verdict

With its fun but short storyline, classic island vibes, and neat but derivative stylings, Jade Scarab Island feels like a good-but-not-great addition to the map. Out of five we’d give this Egyptian expedition…

3.5 out of 5 Bastet idols. Though this excavation vacation comes with its share of enjoyable discoveries, it ultimately comes up short in its potential to dig deeper. Let’s hope Poptropica breaks that curse soon!

There’s so much more to unpack — head over to the trivia section of our Jade Scarab Island Guide to see what other details you may have missed!

With that, all three Dream Islands from the 2020 contest are done and dusted! Which one was your fave: Fairytale, Goofball, or Jade Scarab? 🏝 Next up, we’re looking forward to the return of some old islands to Steam—and maybe bigger adventures on Poptropica, too? 👉👈


Thanks for reading our review of Jade Scarab Island! Do you agree with our verdict? Share your opinions in the comments below!

— 🚜 the Poptropica Help Bloggers 🪲 —

Guest Posts, Reviews

Ramble Review: Mocktropica Island

Hey Poptropicans, this is a guest post by Silver ShellEnjoy!

Now, I love Mocktropica Island because of how real it is. You don’t battle pirates or ninjas on this island, but you battle something just as challenging: Games breaking down. Chaos. Frustrating management that doesn’t listen to anyone. There’s a lot of frustration and confusion in the plot of this island. There are plenty of glitches, but the creators seem to only care about new things, like the dreadful Pop Coins. 

Sounding familiar yet? Unfortunately, modern Pop has started to immensely resemble Mocktropica these days. There’s plenty of talk about that already, though, so let’s move on from that.

I think the island is really fun! You get to design Main Street from a little basement, change the weather and time of day, and, of course, it’s the home of the Narf. My favorite part of this island was trying to convince the former creators to get back to their jobs. All three of them had moved on and needed lots of persuasion before they would return. However, once you get the whole team back together, a lot is fixed! The player gets to actually fix the game itself! How cool is that?!

I’m the Mancala Master.

The twist? First-rate. The fact that management had been planning to destroy Poptropica all along to move Mega Fighting Bots up to the top of the list was, I have to say, quite genius. The clues were everywhere, but I never made the connection! I had assumed those people were just cheap and loony. In my opinion, that twist was the best one in Poptropica.

I kicked their bots.

I actually needed Thinknoodles’s walkthrough for the end part with the flying bots, but I had a lot of fun with it, especially considering the fact that you threw Pop Coins at them. Revenge on the Pop Coins. 😜

And that’s that! Thanks for reading again!

Pop Nonstop,

🥈🐚


Hope you enjoyed this guest post by Silver Shell. If you did, you might also enjoy the PHB’s other Ramble Reviews of various islands, like this one about Lunar Colony by Purple Paw.

The Poptropica Help Blog welcomes interesting Poptropica insights from anyone in the Poptropica community with thoughts to share. Interested in writing for the PHB? We’d love to hear from you!

Goofball Island, Reviews

PHB Review: Goofball Island 🤪

Dr. Blandston got you confused? Check out our Goofball Island Guide.

Heyo, Poptropicans! Now that Goofball Island has been out for a little while, the PHB team is here to share our thoughts on this strange happy place inspired by a winner of Poptropica’s Dream Island Contest.

Centering on a weird and whimsical town that’s being “bland-ified” by the dull Dr. Blandston, this island is bursting with unique characters, fun art and soundtracks, and a story full of shocking plot twists that we haven’t fully deciphered yet. We’ve got tons to cover, so let’s dive in!

Beware: spoilers lie ahead!


Storyline & Characters

Goofball Island was particularly impressive in terms of its story. The plot was complex, thought-provoking (so Detective Gram/Dr. Gramston was the original Blandston and… turned people productive and soulless?), and even offered numerous new concepts we’ve never before seen in Poptropica, the most notable being multiple endings (more on that later) and the player being an antagonist.

Some might wonder if this story, with its performance-enhancing crystals and over-the-top lifestyles one way or another, could be a metaphor for something: Growing up? Neurodivergence? Drugs? Dreams? Whatever your interpretation, that’s the beauty of story — through it you can experience anew.

The plot does get a tad confusing towards the end, though. As soon as you emerge from the flashback revealing that you were a Blandston, the mayor makes you decide the island’s fate, leaving no time for further explanations. Still, with twists and turns throughout the tale, the story was engaging and overall well done.

Also noteworthy is how both the bland and the goofy side are portrayed as relatively neutral, something you don’t see very often in media. While the bland and goofy people don’t seem to understand each other well, they at least live together peacefully — even to the point of goofy Mayor Naise hiring a bland detective to investigate the case.

Lucky Joker: “Do you not see who you’re talking to?”

It was also fascinating to learn about the origins of Goofball Island in City Hall, particularly through Jumpy Spinner’s woke commentary. Who knew that the goofiness it was named for wasn’t there from the start? Then, like a parallel to real-world colonialism, there’s the acknowledgement that even though Xavier “discovered” the island and coined its current name, Native Poptropicans had inhabited the island for some 1000 years previously. Represent!

Speaking of Jumpy Spinner, Goofball Island is full of intriguing characters, even when they’re being bland. In the land of grayscale, we have the City Hall lady breaking the record for longest monologue in Poptropica, the baker who regulates your consumption of carbs, and Regular Dan, who somehow hasn’t gotten kicked out of the Crazy Club. And on the flip side on Goofside, we have to mention the tree dude in City Hall, the lovable Bosko, and nearly all of the Crazy Club. Among them, it was interesting to see animals counted as island citizens and people dressing up like animals (furry gang, anyone?).

Gameplay

With items to collect and interactive elements to explore, playing Goofball Island felt almost like the experience of the old islands, albeit shorter and with the newer Haxe pop-up graphics. While the quest was fairly straightforward, there were still a few moments of slight challenge, but nothing really difficult. Cutscenes interspersed helped propel the story especially in unexpected moments (rip goofy Bosko), yet for the most part, the player had a decent amount of agency in where to go and who to talk to.

Moments of choice are what really stand out in Goofball’s gameplay. Inside the Dreary Building, for example, you can choose to take either the stairs (and annoy people behind locked doors) or elevator (which turns out to be the slow way) to get up to Detective Gram’s office. Just for amusement, you can also play around with the food at Fry’s Fried Freds (and even the Dusty Crust Bakery, to a much duller extent). And of course, at the very end, you get to decide the fate of the island: will it be all bland, goofy, or a balance of both? 

Of the endings, the two extremes are fun to experiment with, and the choice offers an incentive to replay the island to discover the alternate endings (or you can see them here in our guide).

But the balanced ending looks almost exactly like the island did from the beginning, just with a pop more color. For this ending which may have felt more “right” as it allows both types of personalities to coexist, the lack of newness leaves something to be desired and seems to erase our hard work of getting to the bottom of things. After all, weren’t the citizens of Goofball Island thriving in their goofy selves before “Dr. Blandston” appeared?

What if we got to see more characters switch between their two forms, goofy and bland? Maybe the use of crystals could be regulated like a medicine prescription? At any rate, it would have been interesting to see more change in the balanced ending, to reflect all that we’d gone through and the newfound knowledge of the crystals.

Audio & Visuals

One of the coolest parts of Goofball Island has got to be its music, reflecting both sides of the island by the pomp of a marching band (goofy) and the vibe of a classic silent film complete with record noise (bland). In an impressive first for Poptropica, the soundtrack shifts as you move around in a scene, with vibrant brass instruments that get louder when you’re on Goofside, coupled with the jazzy piano when you’re in Dullsville. We wish the bop at the Crazy Club could have brought on more energy, though!

Goofball Island is visually striking as well, with the contrast between the island’s two sides emphasized through color (or lack of it), in both scenery and characters. The boisterous and bright Goofside could not be more different from the black-and-white Dullsville (plus, props for the film noir art style with the white static floating around!).

We also can’t miss mentioning Bobby Bill’s shocking dance moves — not only are they confirmation of Poptropicans’ heads being detachable, but they can be spun around and even dribbled like a basketball with seemingly no repercussions! Fun seeing a new side of the whole Poptropicans-without-necks phenomenon that’s sure to generate some wild fan theories.

Verdict

With a mix of contrasting worlds, fun personalities, and intriguing mysteries, Goofball Island definitely feels like the first real Poptropica island in a long time. All things balanced, out of five we’d give Goofball…

4 out of 5 chubby thumbprints. While this at-times rambunctious island carries with it all sorts of fun (even when it’s serious), the villain showdown at the end may leave players confused about what just happened. Still, with a considerably longer tale to unfold, Goofball’s storytelling was a marked improvement from Fairytale and the other strings of side-quests we’ve had lately. Good stuff, Goofball!

There’s so much more to unpack — head over to the trivia section of our Goofball Island Guide to see what other details you may have missed!

That’s 2 for 3 Dream Islands this year! We’re looking forward to the last and hopefully not least, Secret of the Jade Scarab, possibly in 2022.


Thanks for reading our review of Goofball Island! Do you agree with our verdict? Share your opinions in the comments below!

— 🕵️‍♀️ the PHB team 🤪 —

Merchandise, Reviews

Pop Merch Review: Sticker Haul ✨

Hey Poptropicans, we’re back with more merch to review! In addition to the lovely Dr. Hare button, I also ordered some stickers from the official Poptropica Zazzle store. Check out the haul:

The stickers were custom made by Zazzle and arrived in a cardboard envelope.

As you can see, I got six stickers: the 8-bit Dr. Hare and Dr. Beev from Hoptropica, the iconic Poptropica blimp, the classic Time Tangled Island, the mid-stage Survival Island, and the fresh Fairytale Island. 🏝

The Zazzle store has plenty more stickers, though, including logos of fictional businesses, and beloved characters from Fairytale Island. 🐺

At a couple dollars apiece, and with Zazzle’s constant sales, the total of my six stickers came out to around US$12 (not counting international shipping, which was another ~$7 for me). If it’s your first time, you can get a free trial of Zazzle Black, which gives you free shipping in the US.

Anyway, on with the review! I’ll be going through these based on where I decided to stick these adhesive beauties. Let’s start with my laptop, where I placed Dr. Hare with Survival Island. 🐰🌩 (Hey, if this bunny can fling himself to space, he can hop anywhere and survive!)

Love the color combos here! Still, each sticker ran smaller than I’d anticipated: Dr. Hare was supposed to be 2″x2″, but was more like 1.25″x1.25″, while Survival Island was meant to be 3″x3″, but ended up 2.5″x1.75″. So if you’re planning to order a sticker, keep that in mind when you’re deciding what size to get! (Size options range from a tiny 2″x2″ to an extra-large 14″x14.”)

Next up we have the Dr. Beev sticker! 🦫 As with the above, Beev was supposed to be 2″x2″, but in reality was closer to 1.75″x1.25″. He was also the only one which I got printed on glossy transparent paper, so the white parts are negated and you can see through to the surface where he’s placed—in this case, my green iPad. Looking good!

Leave it to Beev.

Finally, we have the blimp and two more island stickers, Time Tangled and Fairytale. These are printed on regular matte white paper, so they come with a white outline. (You can choose the paper.)

Again, size runs small: the blimp was meant to be 2″x2″ but was really 1.5″x1.25″, while the islands were both supposedly 3″x3″ but varied, with Time Tangled being 2.5″x2″ and Fairytale being 2.5″x3″. Clearly the design shapes the size, with Fairytale looking large in its max height of 3″ while Time Tangled has a flatter design and ends up shorter.

Anyway, I plastered these pretty pieces onto my cardboard file boxes. Now I can go through my files like I’m traveling through the islands!

So that’s all six stickers! They’re all printed with pretty decent quality, are easy to use, and will look great wherever you want to stick them. 💫

Thanks to the Poptropica Creators for sponsoring this post! And thanks for sticking with me through this sticker haul review. Check out more merch reviews here on the PHB, and stay awesome!

For more about all the Poptropica merch that exists, from Zazzle to beyond with toys and more, check out the PHB’s Merchandise Guide.