Hey Poptropicans. You know Monster Carnival Island is full of shady shenanigans… but did you know that applies to the story’s end, too?
Beware: Spoilers ahead!
The original resolution from the island’s release in 2014 had Ringmaster Raven, who masterminded a plot to hypnotize the whole town to serve him, end up hypnotized by your character. You go so far as to make him believe that he is a chicken, giving the carnival a brand-new attraction: The Incredible Chicken Man. 🐔 He clucks, too!
However, some fans have since expressed concerns over this character’s treatment going from bullied Bird Boy to shamed Raven, still outcasted by the townsfolk whose welcome he chased unsuccessfully. HfEvra wrote in 2021 that the tragic tale “dehumanizes a man of color who was already treated as a literal monster by the narrative because of an aspect of himself that he had no control over,” elaborating further in a video.
Bird Boy was disliked seemingly because of his freakish features of looking not entirely human (which is why Dr. Dan is so afraid to have his monster identity discovered in the bonus quest), and also had a reputation as a “troublesome carnival freak.” He was blamed for arson at Honest Gabe’s, although we find out from the current business owner that Gabe was actually quite dishonest and even serving jail time for fraud. This calls into question whether Bird Boy really committed the crime or was set up, which is left open to interpretation. Either way, it’s wild that the town threw out an at-risk kid with no one to care for him.
Also, in 2017, @concanelaa tweeted that a line of dialogue from one of the Black townsfolk which originally talked about being nicer to people so they didn’t try to “enslave us” appeared to sound as if Black people were “blaming themselves for being enslaved.” The call-out led to Poptropica modifying that line to say “take revenge” instead.
Sure enough, in 2022, Steam brought along a new ending to this carnival caper. Instead of brainwashing Ringmaster Raven into acting like a chicken, you force him to be your friend. The next day, you’ll still find Raven caged, but instead of becoming a laughingstock, he’s being shipped off to Super Villain Island, presumably to be jailed there. As the trucks roll out, you’ll be left saying to no one, “But he’s my…”
As for the townsfolk, they’re now more remorseful of the way Bird Boy was driven out of town all those years ago, with new dialogue about how they should have “been better” replacing the lines about being nice just so people won’t “take revenge” (formerly “enslave us”) or “because it’s the right thing to do, I guess.” Subtle yet significant shifts!
But is the story satisfying? Before the Steam ending was released, the PHB reached out to former Pop Creator Mitch Krpata (who worked on the island in 2014, but not the rewrite in 2022) for an interview. Asked “Why such a tragic ending for Raven and the people?” he responded:
Monster Carnival was a hard one to write. There was a lot of pressure to come up with something spectacular, and while there’s a lot about it that I like, I don’t think the script ultimately ended up where I would have wanted it. I will say that the idea behind Ringmaster Raven’s comeuppance was to thwart the expectation of what usually happens in kids’ stories. It always turns out that the villain was just misunderstood, or lonely, and everyone agrees to let bygones be bygones and now they’re all friends. I kind of wanted to turn that on its head and say, no, this guy is actually pure evil and there’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube.Mitch Krpata in a 2022 interview with the PHB
Fans have had mixed feelings about the Monster Carnival ending, sometimes saying that Ringmaster Raven deserved better, which begs the question: What does “justice” look like for Ringmaster Raven?
Does it mean he never should have been caged at all? Never hypnotized, whether to be your friend or a chicken? Never exiled, blamed for arson, orphaned, or born with a deformity that others were afraid of?
And yet, these are all part of his story. Whether he is truly “pure evil” as Mitch suggested, or his circumstances led him down this path, he did try to hypnotize people into slavery, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Raven’s life was troubled from the start, but there’d be no story without these conflicts, even the injustices he suffered.
Now that you know the tale behind the Monster Carnival rewritten ending, what do you think of the way Ringmaster Raven is treated? 🐦 We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!