Merry Christmas and happy holidays, Poptropicans! 🎄☃️💝
There’s a special surprise in store for this gift-giving season: Poptropica’s Steam bundle is now on sale at 60% off! While price varies by region, most of the game’s players are based in the US, where the price has just dropped from about US$20 to $8.
This promotion only lasts until January 5, so grab it while you can — perhaps as a holiday gift for yourself or a friend? 🎁
Hundreds of other games on the platform are currently discounted for the Steam Winter Sale, and it’s great to see Poptropica among the list for less than the cost of a 3-month membership. If you’ve been eyeing this package of nostalgia, now’s your chance. Happy holidays! 🧑🎄
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 expressedconcerns 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, @concanelaatweeted 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.
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!
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).
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! 🐦
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 movie theater, 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.
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 (requires some 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 bit of setup on a computer (Windows will be easier, while Macs might take more work, and Chromebooks are not compatible).
Flashpoint 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 seems like 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?
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!
Pop drop: After a day’s delay, Poptropica’s Steam bundle is ready to play!
To get started, head on over to Pop’s page on Steam to purchase the game, then open up the Steam app (or download it if it’s your first time). If you’re playing on a Mac, you’ll also need to download Adobe AIR.
Interestingly, the price of the bundle seems to vary by region. If you’re in the US, where Poptropica is based, the bundle is US$19.99. Traveling by VPN, you can see how it varies only slightly in other Western countries (A$28.95 in Australia, £15.49 in the UK, CDN$22.79 in Canada; which is US$20.53, 19.48, and 17.82 respectively).
But you may be able to pick up the game at about half the cost in other parts of the world. In Hong Kong, I was able to get mine for HK$89 (US$11.34). Other countries are similar (R 130 in South Africa) or even cheaper (₹ 529 in India, ARS$224.99 in Argentina) which is US$8.25, 6.82, and 1.88 respectively. As for why, we can only guess, but such pricing is generally tailored for the market value of local economies.
Those of us anticipating the game’s release were kept waiting a while, but it finally came out in the final hours of the expected day. The game was originally scheduled to release around 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, May 25 according to Pop’s Steam page. Poptropica didn’t explain what caused the delay, but did tweet an apology around 8 p.m. EST. It was finally released about 1 a.m. EST on Thursday.
A Steam page has been discovered by Poptropicans poking around, confirming a major fan theory about the upcoming returning islands and revealing some new info as well. 👀 (Thanks for the tip, zett & Oof!)
All of these islands are on the newer end of the spectrum of old islands and built with AS3, confirming the frontrunning fan theory for such islands based on previous hints from the Pop Creators. Although 17 islands is more than the original 13 promised, the extra four are not exactly “returning” islands as they already exist in the current game: 24 Carrot, Time Tangled, Escape From Pelican Rock, and Timmy Failure.
The bundle releases in less than two weeks on Wed, May 25, so get ready to download with a free Steam account, 2 GB of available space, and cash to spare! While the Steam site doesn’t mention a price yet, the Pop Creators have shared that the Steam bundle will not be free. 💸
Although some Poptropicans have already been enjoying these islands for free with Flashpoint, the post-Flash fan-run preservation project, the Steam bundle offers a few differentiating features. One of the islands, likely Monster Carnival, is expected to come with a new twist. The Steam bundle will also be playable on Mac computers (except M1 Macs — for now?) in addition to Windows PCs.
An internet connection is also mentioned on the page, despite the Steam game being a download. However, perhaps it may work like the app, where you can download islands to play offline, then reconnect online for multiplayer features.Update: A tweet from Poptropica confirms that the game will be online as it could not work offline.
The Steam game also includes the build-your-own-world Realms and other features from the original game: costumes, clubhouse, pets, store, and common rooms. ✨
Now that we’ve got this rundown of what to expect for the upcoming Steam bundle, how are you feeling on this scale of 0–10 Poptro-pain? 🤯