Monday, December 12, 2016

Forgotten Islands for 3DS - Review

Poptropica: Forgotten Islands is a card that you can buy that allows users to interact with the objects that it displays on the Nintendo 3DS. It was released in North America some time in 2014. Today I will review it.

To begin, the player is dropped into an island. They are then told to begin adventuring, in attempt to find a blimp and explore other islands. Why I have to adventure, I don't know. No reason, I guess.

So eventually, you run into Big Tow (pronounced "toe"). He's called that because he runs a towing business, but that doesn't explain why his siblings- Little Tow and Bro Tow- are also named that. Do they all own towing businesses? You'd think they wouldn't, but maybe. From there, there are many different islands with small quests.

And here comes the main issue with the given product; it's incredibly boring and tedious. Each quest is a fetch quest, going a little something like this: get an objective, go to a nearby island, collect an object, return to the person who gave out the objective. And that's only for the main quests. The side quests are even worse; All of the items are found on the same island, no matter how close they are or how out of place they look in that environment they are. The worst one is where someone claims that they are moving to a different island and they need help finding boxes. The boxes are literally the only things on the island aside from the platforms, and there are no houses on the island to begin with. I did this quest at least twice during my playthrough. And did I mention that you can't save time by collecting the items before accepting the challenge? The objects don't exist until the quest is given. It's ridiculous.

As for terrible quests, there are an abundance here. For one quest, the goal is to bring someone the top of a mountain. When the player questions how it's possible to remove the top of a mountain, it just magically comes off with no explanation given. A quest on the Castaway Islands involves someone needing a freezer because their ice pop is melting. The player says something along the lines of "Why not a freezer?" and then they are rewarded for being a genius. Besides the fact that this is common sense, this quest is crazily easy. So easy, in fact, that if you are given the quest while standing in a certain spot, you can even see the freezer being generated just a few pixels away. 

Another issue is the presentation. Everything looks exactly the same. There are 3 types of 35 or so islands: the grasslands, the forests, and the deserts. The grasslands are incredibly basic, and the forests are essentially just a darker version of the grasslands. The desert looks interesting, but it's only used for 2 islands in the entire package. Aside from that, all islands are either the grasslands or the forest. There are a few platforms used over and over again, but reskinned according to what island type it appears on. The worst is the one roughly illustrated below this paragraph, which is used at least 6 times.

As far as I can tell, this thing only has 6 musical tracks: The main theme/grasslands theme, the forest theme, the desert theme, and 2 map themes, one for the small map and one for the large map. They get annoying really fast, especially the main theme. It doesn't help that each song is just 10 seconds played on loop.

And since I'm the only person that actually uses 3D mode on a 3DS, I guess it's my job to talk about it. The 3D here is trash. You see, there are these words that we use to describe different layers of distance. One is foreground; the other is background. In 3D mode, the background is supposed to look farther away than the foreground. It just simply isn't the case here. Some objects in the foreground appear as if they're in the background, and vice versa. Poptropica Realms got layers right. How did it happen here?

It isn't doesn't have many obstacles either. The only obstacles are invisible walls on each end of every island, and these goofy piranha plants. These piranha plants aren't even that bad, because they only appear in 2 assets (reused many times, mind you), and there is no form of health whatsoever.

So as you can tell, I do not like Forgotten Islands. It's boring, repetitive, has annoying music, and eventually mashes up into one blur that's a huge waste of your time. I'm not sure I can even call it a game. I've gone the entire review up to this point without calling it such, because it just isn't fun or interesting, and can get very annoying at times. I got my copy for $8 on clearance at Target and I feel ripped off. I feel awful for the people who paid $20 for such a cheap, soulless product. I even feel bad for the people who paid $5 for this on the Apple App Store. This is a bad game and I would not recommend it. Poptropica can do so much better. While the DS game was incredibly short, it was at least fun to play and included puzzles. This game has none.

With the Nintendo Switch coming out soon, I hope Poptropica and Ubisoft can make a good Poptropica game for consoles. I know they can. They just have to put more effort into it. Thanks for reading. Goodbye!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mystery of the Map Island Review

Hello! Today I will be writing a small review of Mystery of the Map Island. I sincerely hope this doesn't turn into a lengthy review, as the last one did; but if it does, I'm not going to cut the thing down, so whatever.

Oh, and spoiler alert.

First of all, I don't like this island. It feels short and incomplete. Building an island based off of one book in a saga was not the best idea. It took me about 45 minutes, whereas most islands take about 3 or 4 hours the first time around. I think it should've been longer. Or maybe it should've been released episodically instead, with each episode being the next book in the saga.

Now this is the second full island released after episodic islands ended, and Galactic Hot Dogs came between them. While I do think this is a better quest than Galactic Hot Dogs Dogs Island, it is not as good as Timmy Failure Island. What Galactic Hot Dogs got wrong is that it was short, boring, and unappealing. It took less than an hour to complete, wasn't interesting, and had a new art style that I strongly dislike. Mystery of the Map improved on two of these aspects, but a great island is interesting, takes a while to complete, and is visually appealing. This island has some really good visual art from rooms to items to characters, and some art even better than most other SUI Islands.
Just look at that background!
The story is takes place throughout most of the book Poptropica: Mystery of the Map. I think that book is pretty good, and I'd give it a 7.5/10, but the one part I think would be really fun to play in is the section of the book where the characters are dodging vikings while going down the waterfall. They did a similar thing in the island before it and the island after it with the space junk and the garbage truck, yet not here. It's a shame, really.

So that's just a quick review of this island. It's not bad, but I wouldn't say it's one of my favorites. It has some decent replay value, but some features that were left out when they should not have been. I'd give this island a 6/10. Goodbye!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Review: Escape From Pelican Rock Island

Hello and welcome to Poptropica Secrets! Today, I will be discussing what I like about Escape from Pelican Rock, and, as per usual, what I dislike about it, all in this handy dandy review. There are many positives and many negatives, so this won't be easy, but I'll try.

First of all, this is a weird yet popular storyline. The plot of "criminal's doppelganger gets arrested because the police don't know which is which" is nothing new. This story has been done a bunch of times, even in shows like The Rifleman and Mr. Bean, and games such as Super Mario Sunshine. This storyline is so overdone that there's a joke about it in The Simpsons Movie. But if you think about it, what are the odds that you will meet someone who looks just like you, who just so happens to be a criminal? Very little, I do believe; but that's just me being pessimistic, as I am about most things. This island doesn't do anything new or different with the trope; but since there are multiple other things that go into making an island, let us now continue.

The music in this island is actually decent. It's not as great as Timmy Failure Island music or the Monster Carnival Main theme, but it's pretty good. I've been listening to the main theme for around 10 minutes, and I have yet to be annoyed. It also features some piano, which is really nice and soothing.

The scenery is wonderful. It has some of my favorite art of any SUI Island. I especially like this part

and this scene
and most of all, this thing.

Just kidding. I really like the coloring of all of the island, though, I especially like the prison cell and the license plate factory.

The items may be my favorite part of this island. The Cup of Plaster, for example, looks like it could be sand or whipped cream, but it also looks like what it's trying to be (as far as I know; I haven't seen wet plaster in real life).
Also, since someone at Poptropica (probably social media representative Skinny Moon) reads my blog, I was wondering if I could trade all of this gum in for a Nintendo 64.
I would probably remake that old horror movie trope (the one where a random person wakes up with a disembodied horse head next to them) with this item, should I have an item similar to this.
If knives are ever banned in your country,
consider making yourself
one of these to murde- I mean cut meat with.

Last of all, the most important factor, the gameplay. I'm going to tell you immediately that it is hit-or-miss. Your character gets to do the same thing every day so you get countless tries to complete what you need to do. Then again, if my I missed something in the license plate factory and I need only that, I have to experience supper, the whole night, and recreational time before I can retrieve the desired item. Another thing I would like to point out is that the ventilation system is fun, and reminds me of the pipe game from Tokyo on Game Show Island. The island has satisfactory gameplay in some fields, yet obnoxious gameplay in others.

Well that's my review of Escape from Pelican Rock Island! Is it as good as Timmy Failure Island? No, but it sure is up there, and I can't wait to see what the next island will be. Goodbye!

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Thoughts on the Prize Wheel

Hello and welcome to Poptropica Secrets! Today I will be discussing the prize wheel. There are positives and negatives, so I'm going to write about it.

Since I usually like to think negatively first, I'm going to first bring up the positives. First of all, I can wake up every morning and log in and get credits for nothing. I can sometimes even get rare costumes and old items. On my first day, I won a costume. It's really nice to win stuff like that. This is a really good thing, and I hope it stays this way for a while.

But with a few positives comes a few easily fixed negatives. For example, limited-time items are a big issue. Currently, there are super power bronze cards available in the prize wheel that will be gone soon. Because of the high amount of users (recorded over 500 million), chances are that someone will get 25, 50, or 75 every single day. And since most users have lives, they probably won't remember to log on every single day. As long as these don't last for 2 months or so, there is going to be at least one user who will not get the chance to get these limited-time items, and that really is a shame. Collectors such as myself would probably love to get all of these items, but some simply can't. One way to fix this is to have these limited-time items around for between 3 and 5 months.

Another issue is the island credit system. Since we can now potentially win 175 credits in one spin, playing through a whole island for 150 credits seems a bit useless, especially taking into consideration that some can take 5 or 6 hours to complete. One solution is to make the rewards on the wheel, as well as the prices of the store items a lot lower. Another option is to make each island completion reward 1000 credits. This will make islands a lot more helpful in affording desired store items. I have actually tweeted Poptropica about this a few weeks ago.

After this, Skinny Moon replied to me.

If you like the Prize Wheel, be sure to vote in the sidebar. I like it a lot, but there are many problems that could easily be fixed (like the map) but aren't; but for now, I'm okay with what we have AS LONG AS I DON'T KEEP GETTING 25 CREDITS EACH DAY SERIOUSLY IM ON A STREAK OF 25 CREDITS EACH DAY FOR THE PAST 3 DAYS ITS GETTING ANNOYING STOP IT

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My Thoughts on the New Poptropica Map

Welcome to Poptropica Secrets! Today I will be discussing the new map. This map was released in the past few months, and I'm going to tell you what I think of it.

To begin, I believe that this is the worst map shape so far. Ever since the map changed format in 2010, they have consistently gotten wider and shorter, eventually reaching the point that we are at now.

Now the map is over twice as wide as it is tall, at around 950x425. It would be a lot better if it were sized ~7x4 as it was before, adjusting the bars on the top and bottom. The hint bar on the bottom is quite unnecessary, due to the hint bar already present below the play screen. The bar on the top features four unnecessary features, which are as follows: The Poptropica logo, settings, Home Island, and the store. The Poptropica Logo is already above the play screen. The settings page is available by landing on any SUI island. Home Island is on the first page of the map. The store is available by entering the building on Home Island or by clicking the icon in the menu crate on any island. There is no reason whatsoever why it couldn't have an aspect ratio of 7x4.

Another thing that I dislike about this map is that clicking on an island will show an information page, regardless of anything that you have done on the selected island. The settings menu should have an option to disable this, or the information page should be disabled once you finish the island unless specified otherwise (could be enabled in the settings menu).
But I do have a few positive things to say about the information page; it has a "Restart Island" button, which is no longer accessible from SUI Islands. The Difficulty bar is helpful for newer players and players who have not attempted to complete many of the islands. A brief description of the island is available on the right. And as of late, there are no other places in-game to see the islands' official logos, as far as I am aware.

The colored island views are really interesting and fresh, but they are not consistent with the colored icons shown in various other places such as the homepage and merchandise.
Skullduggery Island as seen from the Poptropica Blimp box art. Notice the green hillside and lightly-colored pier.
Skullduggery Island as seen from the map, which lacks green and has a darker-colored pier.
(The Blimp toy I used to take a screenshot of for the image above is available here.)

One really weird thing I noticed is the placement of Poptropica Realms on the map. It is located on the fourth slide (out of seven) when it most likely should have been placed on the first slide in one of the corners. I understand that Realms is also available in the menu crate, but it would be more convenient if it were on the first page of the map. 

The very last slide concerns me a small bit. As you can see in the image below, there are six islands; four are on the top row, and two are on the bottom row.  This makes it look goofily uneven. As you can see, there is an island in the bottom-left and the bottom-middle, but not the bottom-right, making this slide look lopsided. This is a problem, but I have some simple solutions. Poptropica would move Nabooti Island to the bottom row so there can be three islands in each row. The team could place Big Nate Island directly under Steamworks Island and Great Pumpkin Island directly under Twisted Thicket Island as to make it somewhat symmetrical. Poptropica Realms could be moved from slide four to slide seven and be placed to the right of Great Pumpkin Island; this would leave six islands on slide four (three in each row, which is what is recommended) and 7 islands on all of the other slides. Since there are forty-eight islands, each slide could have eight islands on each slide, resulting in six slides of eight islands each. But in all honesty, it's not a big deal to me and I would be okay with nothing changing.
The seventh slide.
In conclusion, this map is okay. While this is currently my least favorite variation of the map, it could have certainly been worse. It has a few slight problems with it, but most are simple fixes. The only one I'm really concerned about is the aspect ratio. It's nice to see a change in the map. It only happens every 2-4 years and I can't wait to see what changes are introduced the next time a new map format is released. Goodbye!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Poptropica Realms Ideas

Hello and welcome to Poptropica Secrets! Today I have a video to show you listing off a bunch of ideas for future builds of Poptropica realms. I thought for a few hours on this, so I hope you can look past the terrible audio quality and enjoy the video.

If you come up with any more ideas, tweet me @Icystorm9. Goodbye!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cup Glitch

 Hello, and welcome to Poptropica Secrets. Today, I am bringing up a new glitch I found, that being the Black Glass Glitch (as I have unofficially named it). This glitch gives your character/Poptropican a black glass to carry around. How I discovered this glitch is quite simple. After a few weeks of having light blue hair on Poptropica, I decided to go back to having my usual light red hair color. Seeing how I'm not good at using the colorizer, I headed toward the diner on 24 Carrot Island to change my hair color, as I have done in the past. So I changed my hair color, using the drinks on the counter; when I finished, I noticed that my Ninja Dagger was nowhere to be found. I flew over to Super Villain Island to get my dagger from the Store Items section (the Midnight Red Ninja isn't available in the Store Items section of SUI Islands, and 24 Carrot Island happens to be an SUI Island) and when I arrived, I noticed that my character had a black glass in his hand. How did this happen? I don't know, but I suggest that you guys look into it yourselves and tell me what you find. I'm on Twitter, @Icystorm9 for you to tweet your findings to.