Reviews

PHB Review: Grapple-Gift Side Quest ūüéĀ‚ĚĄÔłŹ

Belated season’s greetings, Poptropicans! Though the major winter holidays have passed, we thought it would be “cool” to gift you all a review of Poptropica’s holiday-themed side quest: ‚ÄúThe Grapple-Gift.‚ÄĚ

This side quest is set during a fictional holiday called Grapple-Pap, which is Poptropica’s version of Christmas. The holiday is named after a Krampus-like figure who delivers gifts and takes away people who don’t spread cheer. Much like other fictional holidays such as Merry Walrus or Life Day, Grapple-Pap gives us a look at some of Poptropica’s history and traditions. It’s a nice touch and makes me want to see more Poptropican holidays.

The story is very simple, but it has a strong hook: you help an old man deliver a small wooden horse to his sister Clareta. However, Clareta hasn’t been seen in years, and the villagers believe that Grapple-Pap took her away because she became “mean.” Now, you have to travel the frigid Cold Cliff Pass and find out what happened to Clareta.

When you travel up the pass and enter a rundown cottage, you are greeted by Clareta (now a mean old hag) frantically shouting at you to get out. How did she become so mean and reclusive? What caused the rift between her and her brother? What will it take to show her the true spirit of Grapple-Pap?

To answer your questions: we don’t know, we don’t know, and destroy her cottage with a giant Grapple-Pap statue. ‚ĶYup.

The story started so well but ended way too quickly. It’s ironic that a side-quest with the tagline “solve the mystery” left some of its biggest questions unanswered. It feels like the quest didn’t have enough time to explore all of its ideas, possibly due to being rushed in time for the holidays. We know very little about Clareta and her unnamed brother aside from small clues in her cottage. Also, there’s some evidence that Grapple-Pap himself could have had some role to play in the story other than as a holiday mascot.

All of the Grapple-Pap iconography in the locales, the large hoofprints on Clareta’s roof, and his silhouette on the start screen may have been foreshadowing his appearance in the game, but he was cut for whatever reason. But what if he did appear? Imagine an alternate ending in which the real Grapple-Pap kidnapped Clareta and you had to save her and show her the true spirit of the holiday. That would have had a much better payoff than scaring her with a statue.

I feel bad for ragging on the ending, so let’s spread some cheer by talking about the presentation. This side quest is like hot cocoa and sugar cookies for the eyes and ears! The locations are beautifully designed and expansive, the NPCs look festive in their traditional Grapple-Pap attire (or rags in Clareta’s case), new NPC animations add more life to the scenes, and Jeff Heim’s music never fails to immerse the player in their adventure.

I give “The Grapple-Gift” a solid 3.5/5 Grapple-Pops. It’s a fun holiday side quest with an intriguing plotline, even if the ending left some people out in the cold. Make sure to play this quest before Grapple-Pap takes it away for one whole year. What did you guys think of this little holiday special? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Happy Grapple-Pap and New Year to all!

‚ÄĒGentle Dolphin ūüź¨

Guest Posts, New Poptropica (Worlds), Reviews

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!

newbie eyes

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! :)

Arabian Nights Island, Reviews

PHB Review: Arabian Nights Island

arabiannights

Hey Poptropicans! Slippery Raptor and Slanted Fish here.

Welcome to another PHB review! We last had Mystery of the Map (which was reviewed by HP & UiPE) but now, it’s time for Arabian Nights Island¬†to be in the hot seat!

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the island.

Also: check out the PHB’s Arabian Nights Island Guide¬†‚ÄĒ¬†with pictures!

Episode 1: How Bazaar

ep1

Overall, this¬†episode is pretty good.¬†Let’s start with the soundtrack. The soundtrack¬†was very fitting, giving off a feel for Arabian¬†culture and¬†the grandiosity of their civilization.

Meanwhile, the story focused on¬†finding the Forty Thieves and putting a stop to their¬†thievery. The hideout was done cleverly: it wasn’t the obvious cave, but something much more intriguing, with the “open sesame” scene at the end reminiscent of¬†the beginning of Disney’s¬†Aladdin.

Some of our favorite moments include hanging around the palace while the guards were gossiping and then surprising them with a smoke bomb, and watching one of the thieves struggle to steal the slow camel when trying to pull it into the hideout.

Moving onto the characters, they were creatively made to look like Arab people in the ancient times. In my opinion, the best one was the Sultan himself.¬†The scenes, too, were really made well, especially¬†the bazaar scene. This also presented¬†a nice challenge‚ÄĒ the cave maze and the trading. Smoke bombs added to the coolness factor, and¬†the animations ‚Äď the curling smoke effects which were used throughout the island in different colors ‚Äď were pretty neat¬†too.

Episode 2: Lair of Thieves

ep2

This episode was pretty cool!¬†Let’s start with the¬†scenes, which were amazing. From the cells to the sanctum, everything was nice and detailed, particularly the treasure room.

The quest itself was just the right amount of challenging. PHB author Samwow5 pointed out in his review of this episode that he felt like he was a spy. A spy indeed! Sneaking around the thieves sure made us feel stealthy and cool. The crafting part was also a creative touch to the gameplay.

Seeing¬†the prisoner and later the Vizier disappear in a cloud of smoke for calling upon the wrong lamps¬†made for a¬†dark yet excellent¬†plot. The Vizier’s sacrifice tugged at our heartstrings, and we wonder whether the unfortunate characters were¬†really killed off (it certainly seems so, which might be a Poptropica first) ‚Äď though¬†thanks to the Sultan’s time reversal at the end of the third episode, the Vizier lived (though probably not as a high palace official).

The characters were great, too. The Master of Coin (who looked like Binary Bard), master thief, and Brutus had amazing designs and details. Last but definitely not least, the soundtrack was awesome. The spine-tingling feeling of the music made the episode even better.

Episode 3: Careful What You Wish For

ep3

Months before the release of this episode, PHB author Brave Tomato¬†made a theory about the final episode ‚ÄĒ and she turned out to be right!

Scheherazade’s character had great depth, from being a simple¬†merchant’s daughter to becoming a¬†princess, which turned out pretty badly for her as her father, now a Sultan, barely paid her any attention. It didn’t end there: driven by her desire, she became the leader of the villainous Forty Thieves, and then,¬†at the height of her criminal career, wished to be turned into a genie!

Out of the three episodes, this is our personal favorite. Why? Scenes were made very well and every inch of it is very detailed. The spot-the-difference game was pretty challenging. This episode also brought back the trading and crafting elements from the previous two episodes.

Samhal, too, was a comical character, with his mischievous wit coming into play at every corner. From making a woman who wished to be beautiful into a copy of himself, to turning the Master of Coin into a treasure chest because he wanted to hold all the wealth for himself, to having the recurring camel fall in love with a palace guard, it was hilarious to watch the story unfold.

The story was funny, but it also left behind a well-delivered cautionary tale against greed, especially as it wrapped up in the final, heartfelt scene with the Sultan and Scheherazade on the stone dais.

Plus, we loved the Aladdin references.

Thanks for reading our review of Arabian Nights Island! Overall, we’d rate it a 9.5/10.

arabiannights

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Arabian Nights! ūüėÄ

Arabian Nights Island, Reviews

PHB Review: Arabian Nights, Ep. 2 – “Lair of Thieves”

arab2 review

Hey guys – it’s been a while since the PHB has done a review of an island/episode, but with the recent release of Arabian Nights, Ep. 2: Lair of Thieves, I thought I’d do one for this episode. So without further ado, here we go! (Warning: This review contains slight spoilers. If you’re looking for the PHB’s¬†Arabian Nights Island Guide, our written walkthrough with pictures,¬†click here!)

Let me just start by saying that this episode was perfectly glitch-free, at least for me Рthe new SUIs (sound-updated islands) have gotten some bad rep for being very glitchy in the past year or so, but this time, I didn’t have to restart the island a single time, and I managed to place at #10!

samwow5 #10 arab2

Sometimes when an¬†island comes out, it doesn’t show up¬†on my computer until about 30 minutes later. Amazingly, this time, it¬†showed up¬†on my¬†screen before the Creators had even announced it on their blog. That was the one of the small happy moments of a glitch-free day on the island.

Unlike the recent Shrink Ray¬†Island remake, this episode¬†was so fun to play because it wasn‚Äôt glitchy at all for me. On parts where I thought it was glitching out, the glitches seemed to fix¬†themselves.¬†It‚Äôs a little hard to explain, but at one point, when I got stuck in a wall, all of a sudden I flew up and landed on the next platform. I‚Äôve tried getting out of walls before and it never worked, but¬†that happened when I wasn‚Äôt even holding the mouse.¬†I think this was the least glitchy¬†SUI I’ve ever played!

As far as the plot for this episode, I loved it –¬†lurking around, trying to find¬†the right lamp, dying the thieves’ garb black, and making the magic sand bombs, I felt like I was in a spy movie (my favorite type of film!).¬†At¬†the ending, I felt like I was Indiana Jones¬†in¬†The Last Crusade¬†when he has to pick¬†the right cup – the holy grail – and drinks from it, and survives ‚Äď similarly in this episode, you have a lamp and you need to put it on a Golden Hand altar… I loved the resemblance, and it was quite a twist¬†to see characters destroyed! Overall, this was a great island plot and I applaud the Creators for making this episode the way it was.

Now about the¬†characters – they were very intriguing, and I really enjoyed the thieves’ characters. Their¬†costumes were fantastic, and I especially loved Brutus‚Äôs and the master thief’s¬†costumes. The only thing was, the black garb disguise we put on didn’t seem much like the thieves’ garb.¬†Other than that, the Creators did a magnificent job on the costumes and characters.

Finally, let’s talk about the visuals and sounds – wow, the art on the stone pillars, floor, and the lamp scene just… well…¬†blew my mind away. I have to argue that the¬†visual art in this island¬†is¬†the best in the game so far. And the sound effects were spot-on, especially¬†during the last lamp scene! I really loved the soundtrack as well,¬†and¬†at the part¬†where Brutus chases you, the scene felt super intense because of the scary music playing – a great job from Jeff Heim, Poptropica’s music composer.

Overall score: 4.5/5

I really loved everything about this island. It had everything a quality island could ever¬†want. Over the past couple of months, I‚Äôve been thinking that the Creators are going for quantity over¬†quality, but after all the negative reviews, I think the Creators really put a lot of work into making this¬†island episode perfect, and I’m quite impressed.

But I do have a question – how does this episode advance the island’s story forward?¬†I know, I sound crazy, but what did we really accomplish in this episode? Set off a special power and escape? I thought we were supposed to stop the thieves from causing trouble, and it doesn’t seem like we’ve¬†gotten far on that front yet. That being said, though – I do look forward to the final episode in the Arabian Nights trilogy and seeing how the Creators can top this. ūüėÄ