Pop Island (DSiWare)

Game Review

Pop Island Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Capture the flag, animal style!

When it comes to the DSiWare service, we've seen quite a range of software released so far. Some has taken the "less is more" approach and used very simple ideas to create a gaming experience, and others have gone for a slightly more ambitious effort to mixed results. Pop Island ends up actually being a little bit of both. While the basic gameplay idea is quite simple and very easy to pick up, the audio/visual presentation is much more ambitious than we normally see on the DSiWare service and ends up giving the game a rather polished look, especially for a downloadable title. So is this unique capture the flag title worth your 500 Nintendo Points and is there enough fun to keep you coming back for more?

At its core, Pop Island is basically a souped-up version of the classic strategy game "Capture the Flag". You take control of one of the game's many animals, each with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, and must go around the various areas picking up flags and carrying them safely back to your home base. Of course, to do this you'll have to take them away from animals on the opposing team and manage to keep them away long enough to transport them to your base. To help you out, you'll have the ability to toss fireworks at your opponents in order to stun them and force them to drop any flag their currently carrying. You can also use these fireworks to keep opposing animals from taking a flag away from one of your fellow teammates. It's this careful blend of chasing down the flags, not to mention safeguarding your own teammates, that makes up the meat of the action in the game.

There are eight planets to unlock and each has its own unique terrain to traverse. You'll also be able to unlock new animals, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Some animals perform very well on land, but tend to be sluggish in the water, whereas an animal like the penguin will ski across the water very quickly but tend to be slower on the land. You'll have to choose the animal that works best for you on each of the different planets. You'll even be able to take control of animals that can fly which also have their own unique benefits and hindrances, adding even more strategy to your approach to each of the game's various levels.

You can choose to play the game as a single-player experience that will allow you to take control of an animal and work together with your team of AI-controlled animals. You control the animal with the D-Pad and can toss your fireworks with the "B" button and jump or fly higher into the air using the "A" button. You can even pick up special power-ups in the various playing fields that allow you special powers like a super-jump or a lightning attack that can take out opposing players anywhere in the vicinity of your animal. You'll find these especially useful in some of the more difficult modes of the game where the action gets quite intense. Your ultimate goal is to capture and return more flags to your base than your opponent's team within the time limit. While this starts out easy, it can quickly become tougher as you progress through the game's various planets, each with their own unique terrain.

While the single-player mode is enjoyable enough, it can also get a little repetitive after a while without that human interaction quality you get when you bring other players into the mix. In all honesty, you won't be able to fully appreciate the title until you can round up some additional players: this is where the game can become very competitive or cooperative, depending on how you choose to play the game. It's as easy as creating a multiplayer game and then allowing fellow players to join in, and you can then put together your teams and head into battle. If you thought the single-player game was intense, wait until you get up to eight players all taking part in a match at the same time. Of course this is where the real fun begins and the game truly shines brightest.

The game's simple and intuitive control scheme makes picking the actual gameplay up fast and easy. Of course the responsive play control also tends to make the game quite enjoyable to play and allows you to spend more time tackling your opponents and less time fighting the game's controls. The unlockable planets and animals give you plenty of incentive to keep playing the game and the ability to save your best scores is also a nice feature. It's clear from playing the game that the developers obviously intended the game as a multiplayer experience, so you'll get far more out of it if you approach it as such. Of course it's still an adequately enjoyable solo experience if you don't mind the game's sometimes aggressive playing style. You can even share a demo version of the game with friends via the DS download play option.

Pop Island might use a simple 3D architecture to form its various planet terrains, but it does so in a very efficient and colorful way, and the areas scroll effortlessly at a constant 60 frames per second. Even when the action heats up on-screen and there are large groups of animals moving around, the game never seems to hiccup. It's also nice that the different planets offer quite a bit of variety in their surroundings that keep things looking fresh no matter how you progress through the game. The whole presentation might not have quite the detail of a 2D style of graphics, but the silky smoothness more than makes up for it.

If you thought the visual experience in Pop Island was wacky, wait until you get a load of the soundtrack. Not only is it insanely crazy in style, but it sounds absolutely huge in its presentation. It features some of the best stereo separation heard on the DS system so far and gives the game a very unique audio experience that you have to hear to comprehend. Even the voiced dialog you'll hear from time to time is very well done and of a very high quality. They may have been slightly compressed, but you certainly won't know it from listening to it. It's easily one of the highlights of the game and the fact the developers went with such zany musical tracks even further highlights the game's sound package.


There's something to be said for a developer capable of taking a classic gameplay idea like 'capture the flag' and somehow crafting it into a unique gaming experience with high-quality production values. Not only does the game look and sound amazing for a DSiWare release, but it's so simple to pick up and play that you'll find yourself diving in and having fun in almost no time. In the end, Pop Island's quick-burst style of gameplay ends up being the perfect fit for not only the DSi system itself, but the DSiWare service as well, and for 500 Nintendo Points it's a great bargain considering everything you're getting for your money.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (49)



KDR_11k said:

Sounds very good, I was worrying that it would get confusing with the way the animals move and whatnot. Very strange that it came out in the US first considering the devs are French though...



Vinsanity said:

This looks really nice. Like, really, really surprisingly nice. It reminds me of the games the Japanese used to make when the PSX and Saturn were coming out; stuff like Jumping Flash. Although obviously in 2009, the designs are less experimental and things like controls are no longer a problem.
If I had a DSi, I'd check this out in a heartbeat. But I'm still rocking a Lite - a GBA slot and access to the over 500 games it allows is far more important to me than a dumb camera and a inconsistent online store. Wish more DSiware games were this solid...



bboy2970 said:

I liked this game alot. Then I played with 5 friends and now I love it! multi-player is definitely the highlight of it. Great game!



FairgroundTown said:

Were these screen-shots provided by the developer? Because they look AWFUL and it seems from the review like they don't do it justice at all.



Percentful said:

This game really POPS out! It's like an ISLAND in a sea of shovelware.
Anyways, I wanted this game as soon as I saw the trailer. This review just makes me want it even more. I love the Download play, I can't wait to play with my friends.



warioswoods said:


I know that sending demos to DS systems from a DSi / DSiWare is possible in general, but I was just checking to see if this game allowed it; I can see that it does now. But it is an interesting question, because presumably any DSiWare game that decided to use the extra RAM / CPU would then be incapable of transfer to normal DS systems for Download Play. So, we know that, while this game looks great, it isn't doing anything with the extra power.



blackknight77 said:

I'm glad to see this turned out as a good game. I watched the video on the Nintendo channel and was not really impressed with what I saw. Apparently the video did not do the game justice as its a solid effort.



Kreegs07 said:

Does this use download play for multiplayer or does each player need to have the game?



KDR_11k said:

Considering the DSi goes into the DS firmware for download play I wouldn't be surprised if even DSis couldn't download DSi-only demos.



yodarulez said:

I never really thought about buying this, but after seeing this review I might think about getting it.



Shiroyu said:

Anyone know how many players the download multiplayer supports? I've seen 8 all over the place, but the ingame-manual says 4, and I would just like a confirmation.



bboy2970 said:

Yeah. Just send the demo to the other 7 DS's and have them join the room created by the host DS. It let all systems in smoothly and painlessly. I think you can only send the demo version to 3 other DS's at a time though for whatever reason. Just restart the demo sending process to get more systems in.



Kreegs07 said:

Ok I just downloaded this game and it is really really fun! I highly recommend getting this as soon as possible. It is downright crazy!



WolfRamHeart said:

If this game had online multiplayer I would have definitely gotten it. I don't think that I would have much fun playing this as a lone wolf and I don't have any friends to play local multiplayer with unfortunately.



elucas said:

I just got this game as well, and it's def. worth the 500 points. One of my fave dsi ware titles so far



Altkey said:

I need Nintendo Points!!! This game looks so cool but I don't have enough points for it though. It would also be cool if it had Online Multiplayer.



Moochr said:

I got this game and it rocks! The graphics are awesome and the characters are crazy!



Xkhaoz said:

I love this game. Favorite DSiWare game. Only complaint is that it doesn't have online, but that doesn't ruin the fun.



Sylverstone said:

My store ran out of Nintendo Points....

They better be back in stock soon..... I want this game badly....



Bobpie said:

I hope they release this & Glow Artisan in PAL regions soon...
@Krispood: If they don't have DSes, then how would they play the game, even WITH online?



KrazyKain said:

he must mean that he cant witness multiplayer because he has nobody to play with, but with random matchmaking online, he could see this game at its best... I pretty much feel the same way



Ickaser said:

Great game. But on a certain place, when I use a certain character, if I play the first half of a round, then close my DSi, when I open it again to finish the round, I come out as a different character. Very confusing.



piguy101 said:

So let me confirm this: 7 other Ds or Dsi Download Play? And can you use every map with them? And can they pick their own cart just like on Paper Field?
Edit: Are there two modes of gameplay?



paperskyx said:

I would really like to know if multiplayer is available through Wi-Fi. None of my friends even have DSi systems, so it would be hard to play multiplayer..



Greygnarl said:

This is probably the BEST game on the DSi Shop!! I can't wait to play this against my friends!



bluey611 said:

I just got pop island paper field on my 3DS and I have pop island on my DSi. how do i get the extra maps and vehicles?



rafaelluik said:

@43. piguy101 YES to all your questions.

@44. paperskyx You can share a demo with them and then enter in the Wireless mode, it works on any DS system (i or not).

@47. bluey611 It's obvious you have to have the two games in the same system!! hint*Nintendo 3DS Transfer Tool*hint

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