Not so much 'Capture the Flag' as 'Find, chew and spit back out the Flag'...
Pop Island is quite possibly the strangest game you will ever play on DS. No, not because of the madcap music. Or because of the Lions in buggies (We'd love to have thought it was an Andy Powell reference, but the game was realised in the US before the incident). Not even the penguins on surfboards are to blame. No, it's more of a mental thing. Pop Island has to be the only game that we didn't figure out if we enjoyed it.
On one hand, there's the bright colours, great music and hilarious characters, but on the other hand it all just seems a bit 'Look at me, I'm different!', instead of being something special. However, those who have had a single go at the game can tell you the gameplay is something special. Those who have had multiple goes can tell you it's also highly repetitive.
The basic concept is to gather the green flags scattered around an island, at which point your chosen animal avatar will turn it to being either Red or Blue, dependant on your team. (In single-player, you're always blue.) You then have to escort the newly-coloured flag back to you base, which nets you one point.
It's not that simple, or course, as there's the small matter of the other team. Not only are they trying to take the flags from your teams' collective noses, but also they are gifted with the ability to shoot. This makes the action 10 times as frantic, as being able to dislodge a flag from the opposition and send them far from it with the same blast quickly becomes a tactical weapon. Tapping 'B' launches a firecracker, but it has to be lined up by the player while they drive around using the D-Pad. Our TR must be up there with the world's best defensive Pop Islanders.
...And that's it. OK, there are items, but they make little-to-no contribution towards the game in anyway shape or form, and often they actually backfire on you. You can jump, but that's been standard practise for 30-odd years and there are plenty of unlockables, but we're not given any incentive to do so, as load up multi-player and all the characters are there, and besides, once you've got Craig the Lion as a land specialist, N'Gai the Eagle/Osprey/Pigeon to cover the air, all you need is that little penguin dude and all bases are essentially covered.
We fleetingly mentioned multi-player there, but it really is Pop Island's main selling point. It's possible to have 8 players play off 1 copy of the game by sending out a copy of the 'Demo' (Whole game without the ability to save) to them wirelessly, and it fools the system into thinking that they all have the game. The action really comes to life when there are other human-controlled characters, as then defence and tactics mentioned earlier start to come into play.
Pop Island isn't a game you will pick up straight away. Give it 3 or 4 turns, and you will have it mastered, but before that it will bewilder you.... See more
As does the simple question: Is it any good? At the same time it’s great fun and a real hoot with mates, but also highly repetitive, due to only having one thing to do, which even then doesn't have that much depth to it. We say you should all give Pop Island a shot, although there are better, longer lasting ways to spend 500 Points.