Happy New Year’s Eve, Poptropicans. As 2020 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to take a look back on this strange and eventful year.
These unprecedented times will be remembered in human history for sure — but our focus is on Poptropica as it faces the inevitable end of Flash, the game’s engine for over a decade. Let’s hit Rewind! ⏪
(You might be interested in taking a look back on Poptropica’s previous years, too. We’ve got just the thing over on our Yearbook page!)
This Rewind has two sides: Poptropica, and the PHB & Community. Tune in to both sides of the disc for a nostalgic dive into both the game’s updates and the fandom’s activities over the past 366 days!
🎈 Poptropica 💥
At the beginning of this year in January, when the world was largely pre-Covid (remember those days?), Poptropica surprised us with what would be the first of many nostalgic kicks: bringing back the Costume Design Contest, which first occurred in 2016–2017. 👩🎤 The winner of this contest was Instagram user @bianca_donka’s “Lightning Wielder” costume, which made it into the game in February. ⚡️
Also in February, Poptropica gave a much-needed State of the Game address on the official blog where they addressed various player concerns about what would happen to Poptropica after Flash is gone. 💥❓ Poptropica assured players that the game would go on (and you can read the PHB’s analysis here). They also began rolling out Poptropica’s Haxe build, the newer alternative to the much older Flash engine.
In March, a new pop-up login screen, well, popped up. But a much bigger change to Poptropica’s home screen happened in April, when seven new default characters showed up in a brand-new “Pick a Character” screen! 👨🎤👩🎤 By that point, anyone making a new account would automatically be playing in Haxe, but logging into a pre-Haxe account still took you to Flash. This was an era of two Poptropicas: Flash, with over a decade’s worth of content; and brand-new Haxe, with just a mere few islands as Poptropica slowly works to port them over.
In the meantime, Poptropica continued rolling out cosmetic updates, with a new Husky pet for members and the introduction of weekly (instead of monthly) store rotations for all. ✨ Poptropica also came up with their most ambitious ad yet: American Girl: Joss’s Island, an “island” on the map with various rooms, games, and prizes.
Haxe players gained their first edge over Flash players in May with the introduction of Quippy, a cute little droid who operates a store selling different themed goods in each common room. 🤖 And soon, summer arrived on Home Island, first on Flash and then on Haxe, where the popular feature of player clubhouses made it over as well. 🏠
June brought a major game-changer for nostalgic players: classic islands were back! 🏝 But only for members, because with the old Flash technology, Poptropica’s servers couldn’t handle everyone trying to access them at once. Also, the Haxe build continued to receive some small updates, some short-lived, like a screen where you get to pick your character’s name and a tutorial pop-up screen.
Another indication of island porting progress appeared on the Haxe map in July with the arrival of Escape From Pelican Rock Island for members. 👮♂️ Haxe also got some other updates: new loading screens (mostly promoting membership), a quest roadmap for 24 Carrot (oddly, the only island to get one), a clubhouse starter pack for newbies, and even NPCs walking around on Home Island. But at least one update was met with negative reviews: the removal of the Costumizer (clothing grab feature) nearly everywhere in the game. 🚫👕
Coming up on the heels of that disappointment in August and September was the oddity that was Paradise Island. 🏝 This saga began with some promising sneak peeks of “Poptropica Airways,” but once some players gained access to this day-by-day feature, the feedback proved disastrous. The “island,” which players have called an inferior version of Animal Crossing, stopped updating after day 8, with no word from the Creators ever officially announcing the feature.
But August did bring a more welcome update with a massive import of clubhouse decor, and we do mean massive, with nearly 200 items for your home, most of which were completely new. At least the Creators are well on their way in creating options for home customization for Poptropica’s future in Haxe! 🏡
As time went on, the island porting continued to see progress, and in September, Time Tangled Island made it into Haxe for members. 🕰 It was also Poptropica’s birthday month, and the Creators celebrated 13 years of Poptropica with a birthday rocket item 🚀 as well as a #ThanksKinney campaign, wherein Poptropicans were invited to send in their favorite memories of the game. The Creators would share some with Jeff Kinney, Poptropica’s founder and author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. We never heard back from him, but let’s hope he liked them!
A new craze took over the Poptropica fandom in the middle of the month: Dr. Beev of Mocktropica trash can fame. 🐿️ We’ll share more about this beloved and enigmatic character in the second half of this Rewind, but to give a couple highlights from Poptropica’s side: the Beev made his first and only appearance as a real NPC in the game and the Creators even hosted a fan art contest for the character on Instagram.
At the heels of an eventful month came a sequel to rival Poptropica’s most ambitious advertising: American Girl: Courtney’s Island. Like Joss’ Island, Courtney’s was filled with games and prizes, this time with an ’80s theme. 😎 Ads in October weren’t quite so creative, though: video ads in-between scenes made a comeback, despite the criticism Poptropica received for this feature back in 2014.
But October did bring better things, like Zomberry Hero, the first of many limited time special events on Haxe (check out the behind-the-scenes, too!). 🧟♂️ A couple promising old-but-renewed features were teased, too: an update to the friends page and new merch, with an open invitation for fan ideas. 🧢 Plus, Poptropica gave players some assurance that their Flash accounts would get to keep their stuff even after Flash is no longer supported by the end of the year.
A major Pop drop landed in November: a remastered version of Mythology Island for Haxe (for all, not just members!), and fans were quick to notice the many challenges from the old version gone in the new. 🌩 Perhaps taking that into consideration, the Creators soon released another Flash classic on Haxe, this time without alterations: Arabian Nights, Ep. 1. 🏜
Also in November, a limited time Fall Festival came to town, offering a giant outdoor common room with fun fair prizes to collect. 🍁 A new message system, which first debuted in the aforementioned Paradise Island, was one place where players could now find updates. ✉️
Plus, the teased friends page for Haxe arrived in beta, the merch store opened on Zazzle (or rather, re-opened, since it was active from 2009–2012), and the long-awaited Design Your Dream Island Contest (nudged by fans) returned with a new submission form for fans to send in their island ideas (and other fan mail) to the Creators. 🏝
December began with 12 Days of Member Gifts, a Poptropica tradition since 2018, with both warm and cool prizes like the Snowflake Costume. ❄️🎁 A fun little limited-time mini-game hopped its way over to the map: Hoptropica, an 8-bit world of jumping with Drs. Beev and Hare. 🐰
Amidst the holiday season, Poptropica introduced a new Christmas/winter-inspired holiday: Grapple-Pap! 🎄🎁 For the first time in forever, Poptropicans got to experience a new storyline with new characters and places through the short and sweet Grapple-Pap Gift side-quest. Poor Clareta, but hey, let’s remember that we can choose to find a spark of joy even in the coldest times. Happy Grapple-Pap!
But wait, there’s more! With only days to go until the end of Flash, the great migration of getting all Flash accounts over to Haxe officially happened. ⏩ December 28 was also a big day for one more reason: Fairy Tale Island was announced as a winner of the Design Your Dream Island Contest, making it the one of the next fan-inspired Poptropica islands to be added to the game. 🏝 And that’s islands, plural, because with hundreds of entries to pick from, Poptropica decided to go with multiple winners! As of this posting, the other winners haven’t yet been revealed, though they did promise they’d be announcing them this week. Guess we’ll find out next year… in 2021!
Now let’s flip over the disc to rewind and see what 2020 had in store for the Poptropica Help Blog and its surrounding community…
💙 PHB & Community 🌎
We couldn’t have predicted that a pandemic would take over the world in 2020, but we did foresee a different tragedy: the end of Adobe Flash.
In January, we gathered all that we knew about Poptropica’s transition away from Flash into an in-depth look at Preserving Poptropica post-Flash, and again in February after Poptropica released some more info on the topic. 💥 We also added Game Guides for the newer, single-player arcade games Blaster Attack, Crash-n-Bash, and Poptastic. Better late than never! What’s your high score?
In March, with Covid-19 spreading fast all over the world and people sheltering in place, the PHB compiled a list of Poptropica things to do while in quarantine. Topping that list was revisiting the prescient Virus Hunter Island, released in 2013 years before… all this. 😷🦠 We also invited all of you to participate in our annual PHB Readers’ Survey.
We kicked off April with the intriguing idea of a PHB Flash Experience, a Flash game starring our boy Addo B. Flash. Spoiler alert: April Fools! ⚡️ While we were just joking around, though, Poptropica made a rare appearance on Twitter with a puzzling endorsement of Joe Biden for U.S. president, a comical mis-tweet which has since been pulled. 🐦
May was a quiet month besides our usual reporting, but in June, we kept this blog busy connecting with the community: giving a commencement address to the graduating (and other) Poptropicans of 2020 🎓, highlighting YouTubers creating unique Poptropica content 📹, and releasing the results of our PHB Readers’ Survey. 📊
July is always a big month here on the PHB as we celebrate the Poppies, our annual Poptropica fan awards, along with the blog’s birthday (12 this year!). 🏆 The event also gave way to Dr. Beev’s unexpected rise to fame. Later, we checked in again on the post-Flash Poptropica situation.
We kept the party rolling in August with the return of the PHB’s Tribal Tournament, a massive month-long extravaganza of fan-run Poptropica Olympics last held in 2016. Congrats again to the Black Flags for winning the gold! 🏴🏅 The competitive spirit got to Poptropica, too, in the unexpected form of a second controversial tweet where they gloated about overtaking games like Animal Jam in the iOS App Store rankings. The head of Animal Jam himself got in on the heat, and again, Poptropica’s tweet was soon deleted.
Fans went all in for Poptropica’s birthday in September with Poptropica Month, a month of making, watching, and sharing Poptropica videos headed up by the Dimension Bros on YouTube. Even the Creators posted about it on their blog! Over the course of the month, the PHB highlighted some of the 50+ videos that joined the Pop Month playlist, and some of our staff made videos too. 📹 We also took part in Poptropica’s #ThanksKinney birthday campaign with a throwback to a few OG Pop Creators’ visions for the Poptropica universe. 💭
Another highlight of September was one we touched on earlier: Beev Day! 🐿️ A rise in popularity for a previously obscure character, which started on our PHC Discord server, took center stage when fans decided to host a party in honor of Dr. Hare’s beaver twin—and unexpectedly found him waiting outside the common room. On a different note, the PHB did some updating as well, in the form of a new website theme.
October saw plenty of fan creativity with a Poptober drawing challenge as well as the PHB’s annual Halloween Costume Contest with a theme of “Heroes & Villains” (check out the winners here!). 🦸♀️🦹♂️ We also hosted an interview with the Poptropica Pals, a real-life university student club centered on creating community through Poptropica.
Plus, we lined up an interview with the CEO of Poptropica himself, Mr. Abhi Arya, with an open invitation for fans to bring their questions. Abhi graciously took the time to answer every burning question sent his way, from what will happen to Poptropica in 2021 to whether certain features like the Photo Booth will return to the game. Read the full Q&A here!
Also in November, Purple Paw joined the PHB team — our first new staffer in two years! Then, in December with the end of the Flash era fast approaching, the PHB hosted a “Gone in a Flash” Holiday Party, gallivanting in Poptropica’s Flash-based common rooms for the last time. On Christmas Day, we also shared a huge collection of Poptropica comic strips, compiled by Invisible Ring, from the formerly daily series that ran from 2014–2016. Hope you enjoy the read! 🎁📰
That brings us to now, on the eve of the moment the cord is officially cut for Adobe Flash. What a potent mix of nostalgia and newness 2020 has been for Poptropica, the PHB, and the surrounding fan community! 🎉 Before we take a bow on this long look back, we want to shine a few more spotlights around this amazing Poptropica community…
Now rounding off its 4th year of monthly fan art highlights, the PHB’s Community Creations series is an opportunity to make and enjoy Poptropica fan art with a new theme every month, and we’re always amazed by what this fandom can do. From Pirates to Masks, here’s a look back at some of our faves in 2020. 🎨 (Click to enlarge images!)
We’re almost to the end, folks! As you can see from this long post, it’s been quite a year. Maybe it’s all the extra time spent at home in front of screens because of quarantine this year, but we’ve definitely enjoyed an uptick in activity from both Poptropica (whose social media is active again) and the fan community, including on our Discord server, the PHC!
PHB posts you don’t want to miss
Here on the PHB, in addition to the many highlights shared above, we’ve also had the joy of preparing many more fun posts for you all, with revisits to old islands through Ramble Reviews from guest writers as well as Spotted Dragon’s additions to our Pop Places IRL series, which this year has explored Wild West, Mystery Train, Game Show, and Arabian Nights Islands. And we’ve covered plenty more interesting topics (including some wild theories) along the way — check out more of our favorites from the PHB’s Greatest Posts collection! ✨
Closing the chapter on 2020
Covid may have restricted the world’s movements this year, but being Poptropica fans, we’re no strangers to finding virtual fun from the comfort of our homes and on our screens. In these strange times, and indeed in all times, let us remember the blessings we have in each other and all around us. Whether we’re discovering what Poptropica is up to next or getting to know fellow fans, may we give and receive joy always. We’re certainly grateful to have you here! 💙
As we close the books on the magnificent storm that was 2020, our greatest goodbye goes to Poptropica’s longtime engine, Adobe Flash. Rest in peace, dear friend, with all the islands, items, and fun features we may or may not get to see on the other side. 🙏
Thanks to Poptropica’s hard work this year and beyond, Flash’s demise doesn’t mean the end for Poptropica. Together, let’s look forward to 2021 with a growing world in Haxe, the vaccine to our Flash-backs for more than a decade of Flash gaming on Poptropica. 💉💥
Look out for more Poptropica goodness coming up here on the Poptropica Help Blog! 🦋 We’ve got some fun things cooking, including a new interactive series, that we think you’re going to enjoy. Thank you for joining us, and as always, keep on poppin’ on! 🥳
🎇 Happy New Year! 🎆
— the Poptropica Help Bloggers —
Slanted Fish, Spotted Dragon, Lucky Joker, Fierce Flyer, Sporty Boa, Gentle Dolphin & Purple Paw