Book Review: Poptropica’s “The Lost Expedition”

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Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato, and I’m here with a very special post. So in mid-August of last year, the second Poptropica graphic novel, The Lost Expedition, was released out to the world. You can pick up the book on Amazon.

Although a review has been a long time in coming, now that book 3 is out, it seems a good a time as any to share thoughts on book 2 – so here we go!

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

The Story

The Lost Expedition starts off where Mystery of the Map left off with our trio of Mya, Oliver, and Jorge trying to find their way home. After discovering that the map can’t take them straight home, they end up hopping from island to island, trying to find hints that could get them somewhere as well as stock up on food supplies to survive the journey. Among the islands that they visit at first was one populated by the Greek Amazons, and one revolving around William Shakespeare in London. Each island is set to a specific location and time period, it seems.

Meanwhile, Octavian had escaped the clutches of Viking imprisonment and is after the kids once again for the map. However, this time around, Octavian is not the only person the kids have to worry about – on each island, there is one inhabitant that has a sun tattoo on their wrist. These inhabitants are actually spies for a secret society, and they are bent on getting the kids out of the islands by any means necessary.

The main plot kicks in when the kids end up on a barren glacial wasteland as they end up coming across the failed voyage of the HMS Terror (which was an actual failed voyage that occurred in 1813, a thanks to Tall Cactus for telling me). Stuck on this island with nowhere to go – and with no idea who to trust, will the kids pull through it all?

Now, let me tell you, this is a very different type of book than Mystery of the Map was, and I’ll say that it was really well-crafted. This tone here is a tad more serious with heart-warming moments mixed in with plenty of jokes along the way. There is also a tad bit of suspense, considering you never know what the kids are going to run into next. I enjoyed the story of this book more than the first installment, since we’re not stuck in one island the whole time.

Although the main plot on the HMS Terror island doesn’t kick in until page 30, the opening does a good job establishing what the world of Poptropica in this context is like. It’s clear that each island revolves around a specific era and location, whether it would be Anatolia at 479 BC or the Globe Theatre at AD 1602. This becomes a major point for what Octavian is up to, which I’ll touch on later on. There were also aspects introduced during this part, such as the connection with the tattoos being discovered and establishing how the kids got food and winter clothes that will be put to future use.

As for the rest of the story that does feature the HMS Terror, it does a good job in establishing the topic of the novel: the value of leadership. I’ll go into more detail on that once I reach the Characters portion of the review since it is a very character-centric topic. The journey and developments within the story are very engaging, and you’re anticipating what’s coming next. Although there might be points where the plot may be predictable, the story acts as a stepping stone to what we can expect for what’s coming next.

The Presentation

Kory Merritt is back at it again with the illustrations, and there are plenty of highlights within the presentation of the novel. The best illustrations come out of the large structures that were featured in the story. From the Globe Theatre to the abandoned ship itself and the Parthenon at Anatolia, these were spectacles to look at.

The character designs were also visually interesting – I really liked how over the progress of both series, Octavian’s hair and outfit grew to be more disheveled as he met with failure after failure.  The new character designs were also cool to look at, from the Amazonian women of Anatolia, to the inhabitants at the Globe Theatre, to the crew of the HMS Terror.

Now for the action scenes – the best one has to be a scene at the Globe Theatre island when the kids are being pursued by both Octavian and that island’s Secret Society member on the rooftops. The leaps, the views from the chase, were all very cool to see, and it’s a nice change from the standard running on the ground moments. There were also appearances by this polar bear that also did a good job showing the suspense of the situation the characters.

The rest of the scenery is decent (there was not much to say about the glacial island since it’s just plain white snowy flatlands) with the exception of the mountain and the ship. All in all, the art style had more of a chance to shine here, since we get to see more than one place.

The Characters

The characters in The Lost Expedition reflect the topic of the novel, the value of leadership. And there is no character that emulates this topic more than Mya.

Mya is establishing herself to be the most primary out of the three protagonist kids of the series and she’s one of the strongest out of the cast. Over the course of the story, it is clear that she is the one that will develop the most out of the protagonists. After all, remember that she did have to step up as a leader since she’s not only one of the smarter out of the group, but she’s also the oldest – based on the knowledge that she is Oliver’s older sister and that Jorge is the same grade as Oliver. Overall, I felt that Krpata did a really good job with her.

Now let’s talk about the boys, Oliver and Jorge. Starting with Oliver, he’s still showing his establishment as an ego with a heart of gold and great brainpower. His interactions with Mya are really sibling-like, and of course with them being siblings, this works very well for them. They have their arguments, but they show that they do care for each other – in particular, one of the most impacting scenes for me was when the trio get caught in a snow storm and Mya is trying to reassure a scared Oliver.

As for Jorge, he’s had both his stronger and his weaker moments within the book. Sometimes, he talks without a filter and tended to be concerned only for himself – especially when it came to food. Other times, he’s just there for comic relief purposes – while comedy is subjective,  I felt that his comic relief moments were hit-or-miss. However, I won’t deny saying that Jorge’s weak moments are the weakest part of the graphic novel. There were parts where he became quite a lazy pain-in-the-butt.

Then there’s the Secret Society. Throughout their travels, the kids run into a variety of characters, one per island, who each have distinctive sun tattoos on their wrist. When one of them turns to capture the kids, we get an inkling of who they are and what their mission is – but not much. After all, the kids still don’t know what Poptropica is (and honestly, at this point in the tale, neither do we really – it certainly isn’t quite the Poptropica we know).

As for Octavian… hoo boy, howdy, we learn quite a bit more about Octavian in here than in the previous book. Not only is he still on constant pursuit of the kids. Not only is he getting more disheveled as the book goes along. Not only is he still clever and active as all heck. We also learn about his connection to the secret society, and the fact that he was a former member of it. Upon retrieving the map, he looks down upon it and grins that he’s coming home… to Pompeii at the year of Mount Vesuvius’s eruption.

I had a feeling that Octavian was in the same society as “Embed” (whose actual name is Nils), but his name foreshadowed that he was originally the Secret Society member for AD 79 Pompeii. He’s certainly up to something… and it may get personal!

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Conclusion: 4/5 brave tomatoes

Overall, The Lost Expedition makes its mark as a continuation of the adventure that began with Mystery of the Map (not only the first Poptropica graphic novel in the series, but also an island you can play!). We’re taken through several interesting locations, meet lots of distinctive (and some mysterious) characters, all while being able to stay amused by the antics of our three protagonists – some more obnoxious than others!

While we continue to delve into what the world of Poptropica really is all about, The Lost Expedition certainly leaves some questions unanswered – but after all, that’s what a good book does. You’ll definitely want to pick up book 3, The Secret Society, after this read, and let the journey continue…

–Brave Tomato

EDIT: The author, Mitch Krpata, has left a comment on this review regarding the analysis of Mya! Here’s what he had to say:

This means a lot, BT! Mya was closest to my heart in writing this book. At its core I really wanted the story to be about Mya accepting the responsibility of leading the group, and it’s gratifying to see that it came through.

The Secret Society focuses a little more on Oliver, and his conflict about what leadership to follow. I hope you like that one, too.

How awesome is that??? 😀

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Super sketches, snowy spring, and bingo games

Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato, and I’m here with good Poptropica stuff for you all today!

To start, as we know, Super Power is one of the two Islands of the Month for the month of March. And since that is the case, we get to see behind the scenes sketches from the production of that Island! Although we have seen some of these sketches before, there are some new ones in the mix. Check them out below (click to enlarge images):

Interestingly enough, according to the Creator’s Blog post, these are sketches are from a Poptropica artist named Lance. Well, there’s one Creator that we know of that has that name: Lance Fry! Even though it’s kinda hard not to stop chuckling at Crusher’s over-sized arms and chest, these sketches do give quite the insight on Poptropica’s development in 2008.

In other news, over here in the East Coast of the US, nature decided that the definition of “almost spring” weather is not sunshine and decent temperatures – instead we’re getting snow! Skinny Moon lamented this over on Snapchat, yet at the same time, has hyped up the new Movie Theater on Home Island. What will come of it? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Finally, just for fun, Skinny Moon also posted a bingo game on Poptropica’s various social media channels! Check it out below:

Bingo

Within the bingo cards are not only in-game/multitasking parts, but also community-related activities, like “hang out in a Poptropica Discord chat”!

Does anybody have a bingo? Or two? Did anybody black out the board? Let us know! Plus, share your bingo board with Poptropica and they’ll feature it on social media!

BT out! 

The End of Dye-me

Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato, and I have some interesting stuff to share with you all today! Be warned: Spoilers for an upcoming book ahead.

The fourth Poptropica graphic novel, The End of Time, now has a cover and synopsis, as seen on its Amazon page! Check out this whirlwind of a cover:

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And behold the synopsis (there does seem to be a spoiler-y tidbit for the end of the third graphic novel, however, so tread carefully):

Following the epic penultimate conclusion of The Secret Society, Oliver, Mya, and Jorge find themselves at an impasse: The Protectors’ headquarters lie in ruins; the nefarious Octavian is nowhere to be found; and they have no idea how their tampering with the timeline of Poptropica might affect history. As our heroes band together to save the mysterious, uncharted island world and find a way home, they are reminded of crucial events from their pasts—including how they were transported to Poptropica in the first place. The trio suddenly finds itself in the heart of Poptropica, where the Protectors discover the nexus of all time and are offered the opportunity to see what their lives would be like if they could change just one thing from their pasts. But will they choose to go down these alternate paths? Filled with heart and humor, this is the breathtaking finale Poptropica fans have been waiting for.

There’s a lot to take away from this synopsis. Yes, it does seem that the fourth graphic novel, as mentioned in Mitch Krpata’s interview from way back when, will be the finale of the Poptropica graphic novel series. (At least for the foreseeable future.)

Secondly… well, it seems like there’s going to be some intriguing stuff in the finale: changing fates, a ruined society, impasses… seems like everything’s all coming to a head here, ye who are fans of the graphic novel series! Don’t forget, the fourth (and final) book will come out September 12!

As for Book 3, that’s coming up sooner: it will be out in bookstores and will start shipping (if you pre-ordered) on April 11, a little under a month away.

Book 3 spoilers ahead: The Amazon listing for Book 3, The Secret Society, now contains a couple of spreads from inside the book: pages 50-51 and 74-75 respectively (oddly enough right smack in the middle of the story). You can check them out below if you’re interested, or shield your eyes away if you don’t want to see it just yet!

Anyway, what’s your first impression on The End of Time? How are you feeling about The Secret Society? If you’re a fan of the graphic novel series, are you excited? Share your thoughts in the comments!

In other (less exciting) news, a new how-to video was recently posted on the Poptropica Creators’ YouTube channel, demonstrating how to change your Poptropican’s hair color on 24 Carrot Island. Although you may already know how to do so, here’s the video in case you either don’t know or just want to see it!

Nice Bruno Mars reference to start off the video, by the way. 😉 🥕 It was pretty inevitable.

BT out! 

A hair-raising multiversial throwback

Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato, and I got a quick little post for you guys today!

First of all, there’s a new advertisement game showing up on Home Island – this time it’s for Tangled the Series, a new Disney Channel show coming next month!

Once you go inside, talk with Cassandra, the woman with the short black hair and she asks you to find Rapunzel and the items she dropped along the way before time runs out.

A good tip for this minigame is to follow the golden hair for the first three items and then continue looking on the upper level for the items!

For your troubles, you are rewarded with a Pascal Follower and a selection of three Braids!

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In other news, longtime Poptropicans may remember when the Multiverse card was introduced to the store, and thus gave players the ability to see each other in a common room more easily! Multiverses are an important part of the Poptropica Help Blog lifestyle – multiple multiverse parties were part of the blog’s history, after all!

In the newest Creators’ Blog post, Skinny Moon takes us down memory lane with a new how-to video posted on the Creators’ YouTube channel, showing us how to use the Multiverse feature. Here’s the video (you may already know how to use the ‘verse, but just in case you don’t, this should help):

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As we continue turning the clock, we end up in 2015, since Skinny Moon showed off a picture from her first visit to the Multiverse with community members – a picture from the PHB at that!

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Also, the blog went way back to the year 2009, when the multiverse first released, showing off an old video where multiple Creators joined together on a multiverse to goof around with the new-at-the-time Flower Power card!

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Thanks to the Multiverses, we all (well, only some at a time) can meet up in a common room, answer questions, play games, and hope the game doesn’t lag with all the special effects unleashed upon it!

The best place to see whether a Multiverse party going on (or to start your own) is on the Poptropica Help Chat, where you can talk with players at the same time. The PHB staff and plenty of other Poptropicans like to hang out there, and we hope to see you too!

Until next time, BT out! 

Love becomes Reality this Valentine’s Day!

Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato, and I have some lovely news to share with you all today!

It appears love is in the air this Valentine’s Day season! Whether you have a special someone to share the season with, or if you’re just here for the chocolate, the Creators now have a little V-Day-themed Photo Booth contest going! Get started with the booth on Home Island:

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The objective is to create a Valentine’s-themed photo booth picture. To help with the contest, several lovely Photo Booth props have arrived in the selection, so you can add your own special touch to what you have.

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When you’re ready, post it to Twitter or Instagram (with the hashtag: #PoptropicaLove), or post it on their Facebook page. Besides showcasing their favorites on social media, one-month memberships will also be randomly awarded to some lucky participants!

Here are some example Photo Booth creations from Poptropica (the first is a collage of multiple photos):

Hey look, it’s Spotted Dragon! Anyway – have a lovely time creating. 😉

In other news, the awaited video walkthrough for Island of the Month Reality TV Island by everyone’s favorite pirate is now available on YouTube! Check out Crawfish teaching you how to complete the island while not exactly being an expert on the island either, with his usual wit along the way!

Now go for those 500 (for first time finishers) or 300 (for one subsequent time) credits you can get by completing this! Don’t forget- you can also get the credit boost through…breaking out of jail in Escape from Pelican Rock. How romantic.

So what do you think? Will you be participating in the new contest? Did you catch the little joke Captain Crawfish made in the new video? What will be next?

Iiiiiit’s… Wa-Black Widow! Have a nice day.

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Until next time, BT out!

Musical Trolls and More Leaks!

Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato and welcome back to another post of Poptropican goodness! Here’s what’s been going on in the game and community as of late!

First off, there’s a new ad grooving around the main streets of the islands, and it’s for the DVD release of the Dreamworks animated jukebox musical, Trolls!

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This advertisement just so happens to fall under the “common room” category of advertising, so as a result, there are people to talk to, as well as other cool, 24/7 party stuff within. The first thing you see as you enter is a mannequin for the costume of either Poppy or Branch, depending on if your Poptropican is a boy or a girl.

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If you move over to the right of Poppy, you’ll see a light blue tuft of hair over to the right side of the platform, if you pick it up, you obtain the Hair Whip Power, which whips your hair back and forth if you press the space bar! Unfortunately, the color only comes in that baby blue, since any other color is not good enough to be hair-power-worthy it seems. Over to the bottom right corner is a video ad for the Trolls movie, but there’s no prize at the end of it. It’s up to you whether you’d like to watch or not.

However, if you move to the bottom left, you’ll see one of the Trolls popping in and out of a hole. Clicking on the glittery troll will make the room sparkle for a moment in a cool special effect!

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And that’s about it for the Trolls-themed common room!

In other news, remember the Crisis Caverns leaks that were shared not too long ago here? Well, thank you once again to Shaky Skunk and the same anonymous glitcher for a mixed bag of interesting finds! (Disclaimer: We can’t guarantee if these are real.)

Now, the first find here is described as being from Astro-Knights. From the looks of it, these may have been unused background planets as your player would explore the vast reaches of outer space, which is quite interesting. Although I’ll have to agree with Shaky Skunk here – that looks more like a gross meatball than an actual planet you could find in outer space. It’s probable that’s the reason it was left unused.

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The next find involves this really worn down, shady yet intriguing urban street. This is actually the backdrop for a 2013 Power Rangers advertisement for the ad’s minigame! (Thanks, MissEligon, for letting me know on Discord!) It’s a really cool area for a temporary minigame, and it’s interesting to see a different perspective!

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Not much is known about this picture, besides the fact that there’s a giant Transformer-like bot next to a building that appears to be staring into my soul. Either way, huh. Pretty darn cool.

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Not much is known about this picture either. It was speculated to be a concept art for some sort of red landscape.

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These last two concept arts are what is most likely for Crisis Caverns. It seems like that we get a pretty cool lamp, and also it appears that the toaster is the leader the cave needs at the moment. There’s not much else to say but, fanciful.

Well that has got to do it for now! What do you think of these leaks? Fascinating? Boring? Fascinatingly boring? Either way, it’s still something cool to see.

BT out!

Winter lore and headquarter tours

Hey guys, my name is Brave Tomato and I’m here with another poppin’ post for you all!

Yesterday, on the Creator’s Blog, Skinny Moon thought it would be cool to make a post about the inside of PopHQ itself, located in Boston, Massachusetts!

Although it’s nothing absolutely spectacular, Jessica went out of the way to show us all the merchandise toys that they have within the office as well as the never-before-seen wall clings that take up wall portions around the HQ. Some of these clings have been seen before in the Periscope livestream that Jessica hosted just last March, but it’s still cool to see the uniqueness of the locale anyway!

In addition, in the Creator’s post, Jessica says that the in-office Berry Delicious Smoothie area (based off the infamous beverage franchise from Zomberry Island) is more so used for getting work done and meeting with other Creators as opposed to actually selling smoothies. Well, good thing we don’t have to worry about having the Creators turn into blue zombies any time soon! ;P

As a side note, just in time for the holiday season, the official 2016 holiday graphic has officially been shown!

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It might look like just like any other graphic, but there is a chance that this is a glance at the look of New Poptropica! After all, one of the things promised was a newly updated look for Poptropicans, and these two kids look like they could possibly visualize this. From their eye colors to the sleeves and mittens, and even down to the shoes, there is a different vibe as compared to a typical Poptropican. Then again, it could always just be my wishful thinking taking over and that this is just a stylized piece, yet it still looks cool either way!

Anyway, since the end of the year is fast approaching, the question of the hour is: will New Poptropica actually make its rounds this year as promised? If we hear of or see anything, we can promise to you that the Poptropica Help Blog will be here to share it!

BT out!