Welcome back to “Pop Places IRL,” Poptropicans! We’re gonna be moseying back in time today to visit Wild West Island! And if you like this series, sure to check out other Pop Places IRL posts.
Wild West Island quite obviously takes place in the western US during the American frontier period of the 19th century. The time period has been highly romanticized, especially in film, so there’s no wonder we have a Poptropica island themed around it!
Pretty much every building, character, and background matches this old western aesthetic. Details range from apparel, architecture, fonts, dialogue, and beyond! Sometimes the smallest changes can have a big impact on an island’s theme. The setting has this wide open feeling, and I think Poptropica was able to successfully portray that in their own style. Do you agree?
One of the most iconic places in any old western town is, of course, the Saloon (in this case, found in Diamond Plains). And Poptropica did manage to make such a location kid-friendly enough to be included! Anyone care for a round of root beer? It’s on me!
Another noteworthy building would definitely be the Marshal’s Office or Jail (also in Diamond Plains). Whatever the law enforcement may be (sheriff, marshal, constable, you name it), even deputies seemed to be quite prevalent in a time rampant with outlaws, bounty hunters, and gangs. It was cowboys galore!
Since we mentioned the jail, we of course have to bring up the Bank, because the whole “outlaws robbing banks” trope just cannot be ignored. The bank we see in Poptropica is located in Rock Ridge. Stick ’em up!
We could very well look at the Train Station as well, considering it does tie into the bank robbery within the story. Quite different than the train station we see in our Mystery Train comparison, huh?
After all that, I think we simply must talk about the Casino in Dos Cactos next. During such wild times, gambling tended to be a common occurrence. But yet again, Poptropica was able to fit it into its kid-friendly world! Looks like everything’s coming up aces for them!
If we stay in Dos Cactos, we can head on over to a sort of carnival, but more specifically a shooting gallery. Yes, traveling shows did date back to the wild west era—you simply had to travel between the far away towns for profit! And every good cowboy knew how to shoot a pistol.
Curious about other displays of showmanship? Why, just take a look at the local Snake Oil Salesman in Rock Ridge of course! Traveling carts were quite the norm in the wild west, with salesmen often promising miracle cures and obscure tonics of all sorts. Maybe be careful about spending your money around here…
Another cart we get to see in Wild West is owned by a photographer (this one in Dusty Gulch), which could perhaps be considered more of a miracle than the tonics! The world’s first photograph was taken in 1826, perfectly fitting into the frontier era. That makes us pretty lucky to even have photos from around that time to compare with the island!
Dusty Gulch is also home to Rusty’s Ranch, as you may know (though this can also be compared to the ranch in Rock Ridge). Raising cattle and horses and such was so common in fact that it was actually one of the factors leading to the Dust Bowl. So maybe it was only a stable job in one sense of the word?
Something else we can’t forget: the gold mines! The California Gold Rush of the 1800s was a huge population push to the west. Time and time again it seems like people yearned to move west! Though it didn’t guarantee fortune to all, that’s for sure.
Bringing our adventure to an end, the Canyon Hideout feels like an appropriate grande finale. One of the most famous IRL hidey-holes for gangs and outlaws was the “Hole-In-The-Wall,” an isolated area in Wyoming.
Boy howdy, that was a lot of places, wasn’t it? And we didn’t even go into detail about the hotel, clock tower, or trading post! Just goes to show you how much detail goes into one setting/game design.
Do you think Poptropica successfully replicated the alluring aesthetic of the IRL wild west? Yay or neigh? What island would you like to see us compare next in this series? Be sure to leave your thoughts in a comment below!
So long, partners!