The long-delayed final episode of Arabian Nights Island, "Careful What You Wish For," has released for Poptropica Members! This completes the first island so far to be suggested by a player in the Create Your Own Dream Island contest. Sorry about the late response; I've been on vacation and very caught up in other stuff. But now I have time and the full written, illustrated and video walkthroughs will be up on the Arabian Nights page in a couple of days.
And just another quick bit of news before I let you play the new episode... there are new Common Room chatting options! Those were getting boring before because they haven't been updated in years, but this should finally spice up multiplayer rooms for a while!
First of all, sorry for the lack of posts over the last 2 weeks; I've been on vacation and only just got Internet access. Okay, some much-awaited exciting news is finally here: Realms sharing! Members can now make any of their realms public, which means that anyone can see or rate them (by pressing the "like" button). The Creators apparently have to approve each realm before it's published, though. In addition, every public realm has a unique code that you can share directly with a friend, like Multiverse rooms. Here's the official guide:
In other news, beating an Island now gives you 150 credits instead of the previous 50! (Of course, longtime players know that it used to be 100). It's not clear why they did this; perhaps they will be adding more items to the Store which can be bought by non-members. But there is another, more worrying possibility...
Nabooti Island just recently became closed to non-Members! This is the first time a previously free island later became Members-only (well, except Poptropolis Games, Mythology and Shrink Ray, but they were being upgraded to have sound and the bigger screen size). It's a worrying sign that Poptropica is going to such lengths to expand to TV, comics and mobile while neglecting the original game. Not only that, but recent island releases have been delayed significantly, or been of lower quality (Mystery of the Map, and the third episode of Arabian Nights is still not in sight). Oh well; the message being sent clearly here is that Poptropica is for paying players, and you know what? It's a high-quality game that most people wouldn't mind paying for. Anyway, enough ranting. Enjoy the summer and play Poptropica!
Some exciting news... Poptropica (the company) has been bought by Sandbox Partners! It's a company based in the U.K. Previously, Poptropica was owned by Pearson (you know, the ones who write all your textbooks). The amount it was bought for hasn't been revealed. It seems like this is for the best, as Jeff Kinney and the CEO of Sandbox Bhav Singh were optimistic in their interview. The important phrase was "helping to bring the brands to new markets." So Poptropica could be expanding in the near future. Already there is speculation that it will become a TV show. Seems more likely now, right?
And finally, Mystery of the Map Island has just today been released to all players. Check out the walkthrough if you're stuck, and have fun!
It's been a little more than a week since Mystery of the Map Island released to Members on Thursday. It was also the first island in a long time to have a demo for non-Members. The demo is actually of a nice length — you can get as far as rescuing Octavian — so what did you guys all think about the island? Something about it (and OK, the long weekend too) made me want to write a short review. So, here it is!
The first thing I noticed was the theme music (click here to listen or download). It fades into the background at first, but eventually it grows on you and it's an extremely fitting piece for the "island mystery" sort of theme. (Of course, technically all the islands are "island mysteries" but this Mystery of the Map is even more so — more on that later).
Next striking feature: the map. The map is a magical device that not only shows the current state of the island, but allows you to travel anywhere on it with a single click. The attention to detail and quality is pretty stunning. Objects on the map are constantly moving, making it seem even more realistic.
Some more general quality notes: the animations were fairly good, and there were few bugs. No complaints there.
Frankly, the story didn't make very much sense. Sure, if you've read the graphic novel you can follow along, but its mediocre on its own at best. And not even an island that's based on another story should be like that; look at Nabooti, Big Nate, and Red Dragon. Main complaints:
In other, slightly more exciting news... The Creators have announced something new, the Poptropica Hall of Fame. Every week, people who have earned medallions are entered into a raffle (the more medallions you have earned, the more raffle entries to your name). Every Friday, some winners are chosen and their avatars will be put into one of 6 islands. So you basically become an NPC in an island quest for that week, as I understand it. Sweet! Start replaying islands and dressing up in your most unique costumes. As always, check out Poptrickia's walkthroughs for straightforward help on Islands.
Poptrickia's guide has now been completed! Click here to see it. However, the video walkthrough might be delayed a little, since I have lost the computer that I use for recording (I know, shame on me). As soon as I find it (or set up my recording software again), I will make the guide. In the meanwhile, here's the official guide:
Then, there are a few arcade games to play, scattered about the area. Sky Dive and Star Link (my favorite!) are ready to play, with Balloons coming up. There are little variations from the desktop version, except that you can't chat, and you play with a random opponent each time. Maybe that's a good thing?
They're in a very distinctive art style, not like normal Poptropica, suggesting it is going to be a sponsored island, and have something to do with animals at a zoo. The crate on the giraffe's head seems to say "Boom Boom Shoewheels," which are something from the Timmy Failure universe. On the other hand, the character designs seem to be normal Poptropica style, so I'm not sure what to think. Any insight?
UPDATE: Mystery of the Map Island has been confirmed today by the Creators!
Earlier this month I discussed the possibility of there being a Poptropica Island based on Mystery of the Map; and now these recent sneak peeks definitely confirm that suspicion. Behold, the concept art for the upcoming island (after the last episode of Arabian Nights of course).
Looks like it really captures the essence of the comic really well (which you can read to completion on the sneak peek page). In other news, there's a new "Graphics Quality" setting in the settings menu. By default it's set somewhere in the middle, but to be honest, even though it's a sliding scale, it doesn't seem to offer much of a variety of options. It only lets you choose between a really low resolution and the one you're used to.
I had a dig through the code (click to see it), and it seems that there are really only three quality modes, let's call them low, medium, and high, and low is only available on phones. Beyond that, the way the quality level maps to what is actually displayed is pretty arbitrary, and it doesn't make sense to me that the players decide what quality they want to see. We want to see the highest quality possible for our computer. Most games can automatically detect what this value is and automatically use that. I think Poptropica should try to do this.
Last but not least -- the Sneak Peeks browser has had some issues/bugs, but it is now restored to working order! Click here to see it now. In case you forgot, it lets you browse at a glance through all of Poptropica's official sneak peeks, from when they started, even a couple that haven't been released yet. Enjoy!
I'm pretty sick right now, so my friend Larkwing will be filling in for me and working on the guide for the last episode. UPDATE: The island guide and video walkthrough are both complete! Click here to see them. You can also watch the video guide below:
And also, the Creators released something else fun today that non-Members can also play with; Bingo for PoptropiCon! Each tile has one character, and as you play each episode, you can mark which characters you saw. Interestingly, now we finally know the names of these characters! Here's the link for you to print out and play.
New features have been added to Poptropica Realms! I'll go over them all in this post, but the major points are "Nightmare Fairies", new props, costumes, weather effects, and new abilities for high-level players. The new mining abilities are the Ground Pound, Hammerang, and Super Jump .
And also -- new interactive props! They each do something when clicked on (if they're interactive), or when stepped near (like trapdoors and explosive platforms). Be careful though, props cost a lot -- 1 Poptanium for each square that they take up, rounded up. And they don't count towards leveling up.
The Pixies are another reason I liked the old Land better than Realms. I think the old one made it easier to create things, by not taxing your Poptanium for it. And now these fairies are making it even harder, even stressful. You just can't take your time to create something big anymore without a swarm swooping in.
Still, it feels great to just be walking around in an arid volcanic desert and suddenly find a tower with a chest full of 500 Poptanium in it :)
Trust me, this is not just another marketing shenanigan. Mystery of the Map is going to explain Poptropica's backstory, the secret history of why Poptropica is the way it is. Sounds exciting to me! You can read it here.
So far, what has happened is that Oliver, Jorge and Mya are on a blimp ride, when the evil Octavian time-travels the entire blimp to the prehistoric times of Poptropica, where they meet several dodo birds. They have just discovered a Viking ship. We haven't gotten to the real action yet, since they only release one page a day. If you're like me and want to read ahead, then I made this page that lets you read all the pages at once, including the unreleased ones! Check it out.
But even more exciting -- judging from some recent sneak peeks, it seems very likely that Mystery of the Map will become an island (or, I'm guessing, an episodic island) on Poptropica. Check these out:
Looking closely, they give clues about where the comic book will go (and it is going to be made into a book). But the images look like they're in a very early stage. Who knows if it is on the Island track or if it's just an idea they're throwing around? Only time will tell.
UPDATE: The Creators explained on Twitter why and how the graphic novel is different from the original comic strip. It clears up quite a lot, I think:
Wow, you’re really paying attention! Great questions. It’s all about being on Poptropica, not how one arrives. Comic Creators used school experiment, graphic novel creators used balloon trip. Comics will go on and on, for laughs, no substantial story or targeted end. Graphic novel, 12-book series, beings with Mystery of the Map, will introduce many more characters & pursue a substantial & complex story completing with 12th book. Other stores could then evolve.
Later this week I'll be back with some cool sneak peeks for upcoming episodes -- like PoptropiCon 3. Stay tuned!
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