Hi Gs & Heyyo Poptropicans!
HP and I played the recent Mystery of the Map Island together and decided to post a co-review of our thoughts.
NOTE: HP’s text is in red and UiPE’s text is in blue
Design and Feel
I think perhaps the best part of the island, as always, was the soundtrack. It just fit really well and probably was the best Jeff Heim has written. Honestly, to me, the best part of MotM is the overall “feel” of the island. This includes, as Andrew mentioned, the soundtrack, as well as the sound effects. For instance, the waterfall was a really nice depiction of that kind of setting.
More into the overall “feel” is the design. It’s really nice and fits the setting well. Very clean and fresh. I really enjoyed the artwork and the ambience as well.
And don’t get me started on the interactive map – pure bliss! Beautiful animation. I couldn’t say that better HP. Although, I would have preferred if Poptropica made the map more accessible to the player. Since you have to either go into your inventory or go all the way to the edge of the scene to go to a different scene. A simple icon/button at the bottom of the screen for the map would have been a nice touch.
Story and Characters
It seems that the story has really been dumbed down a lot for the island, as in the graphic novel it was much more complex. Characters like Embed and most of the main cast are limited in screen time, and the character development isn’t great. The most developed character in my opinion is Octavian, because at least we see some of his personality. Mya and Oliver were bland and had no real character at all – of course, there is the graphic novel for this, but for someone just casually playing, it’s underwhelming. Story overall was frankly not the greatest. The island didn’t really develop much of any of the characters at all, which was one of the best parts of the comics. If Poptropica had added more of that character development.
But the reason for the underdeveloped characters is clear: island length. This island is short. It took me and UiPE roughly 45 minutes to complete, and that’s not much considering islands are generally supposed to take 1 – 2 hours to complete. Islands like Ghost Story dwarf this island. Reasoning behind the MotM being so underwhelming for me is, as just mentioned, how short it is. The creators could have easily fleshed out the characters much more (as they did in the comics) and improved the island not only in making it longer, but just improving all of the characters generally speaking, which was one my criticisms with the island anyways.
A simple cutscene here or there (with pictures!) would be nice! But just overall, the island’s story lacked. There was no story whatsoever when it came to the map. Your character didn’t even react to the new map – something like “There are more of them?” or “Where did he get this…” seems appropriate. So I ask the Creator’s this question: what happens when unassuming players finish the island? If they don’t know about the graphic novel, they’re going to be completely lost. There was no book store on Main Street like previous franchise islands. The lack of length and character development really was MotM’s biggest problem and it really should have taken much more from the comics to improve the island. I was intrigued at the end to learn more of the Poptropica map, but the characters didn’t really seem very interested, not even really a word about their curiousity.
Overall, I understand that Poptropica is done with Pearson and that they’re massive funding is gone; now, they can’t rely on longer islands anymore. But they have to become more resourceful – again, learn how to use cutscenes to explain stories, plus add more dialog in the right places. The quality of the island is good, but too short. Short islands are not good. The story is too long to try to be put across in the way that they did. I give it a 2 out of 5. Not as good as it could have been, especially when it was easy to make it better. Music and art was good, story and character development was not. Please the fans!
Plus, they still haven’t made SUIs not glitchy and still clunky. :c
In conclusion, the general story of the island was pretty good, but it lacked much character development and length. Which could have benefited each other very well. The comics are frankly better than the island and the island should have shown much more of the what the character did right. The design and feel of the island (as well as the overall fun premise) made for an interesting island. Also, want to quickly mention the glitching. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad for MotM. I did crash once during the end chase scene, but besides that, not many problems with the techinical side of the island. Although the island has it’s flaws, it’s fairly good and I’m giving it a 3 out of 5. Could have been a much better island, but still was fairly good.
Anyways, what did you think about MotM Island? Feel free to comment your thoughts!
-HPuterpop & • Ultimate iPad Expert •