Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island

Go To
The original version of JumpStart 4th Grade, replaced three years later by JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Sapphire Falls.

You are a fourth-grade student who has missed one day of school. Not only were you absent, but the teacher was as well. The substitute teacher just happened to be a Wicked Witch named Ms. Grunkle, who turned all your classmates into monsters and imprisoned them on a creepy island where everything looks like it was designed by Tim Burton.

To rescue your classmates, you have to complete a series of Fetch Quests for a fortune teller named Madame Pomreeda. These consist of you wandering through the spooky woods of the island to find the educational Mini-Games that provide you with your classmates' personal belongings, which are needed to turn them back to normal. You're also helped by a purple bat named Flap, who serves as your Exposition Fairy. Occasionally, an evil ghost named Repsac will pop out of nowhere and force you to answer a question. Answering a question wrong will cost you health points and losing all your health points will land you in the Labyrinth.

Keep in mind that there are two versions of the Haunted Island game, the original 1996 release and an Updated Re-release from 1998. The biggest difference is that the '98 version added an onscreen leveling feature and an in-game map. The '98 version also shortened the gameplay, with you having to play two games per item instead of three.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alphabet Soup Cans: All with creepy tones to them.
  • Artistic License – Geography: On the map in the Pirate Ship game, Northern Ireland is shown as part of Ireland rather than The United Kingdom, and the Kaliningrad Oblast is shown as part of Lithuania. The game deals with the then-ongoing Yugoslav Wars by labeling the rump Yugoslavia as simply "Serbia," which is not quite accurate since it also contained Montenegro at that point.
  • Artistic License – History: On her tablet in the Mummy's Tomb, Rosa Parks is erroneously identified as having died in 1996 (the year of the game's release) when actually she would live to 2005. Knowledge Adventure posted a correction on their website in 1998.
  • Bag of Spilling: Inverted. In the opening cutscene, Ms. Grunkle is flying with a witch's hat full of keys to her house, but she drops them all and her magic wand on the way there. The player ends up picking them all up.
  • Beauty to Beast: Many of the children, especially Tiffany.
  • Bigger on the Inside: There's no way Ms. Grunkle's tiny little house could contain all those rooms you have to pass through. But hey, she's a witch.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The four types of plant that you grow in the Mutant Swamp have Latin names, three of which aren't especially pleasant when translated. Acerbus = bitter, sour, unripe. Letalis = lethal. Mortifera = deadly, fatal, lethal (lit. "death-bearing"). Siccus = dry, sober, thirsty.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Ms. Grunkle repeatedly taunts you, yet doesn't really do anything to prevent the player from continuing aside from booting you into the labyrinth every time you unlock another door in her house.
  • The Cameo: Hidden in the backgrounds in certain areas of Haunted Island are characters from previous JumpStart games. Pierre, Casey, Kisha and Eleanor from JumpStart Preschool can be found in the woods, while CJ from JumpStart 2nd Grade can be found near the Mutant Swamp activity. Each of them sport a frightened or concerned look on their face. The cast of Preschool also make visual cameos on the "Cirque du Jumpstart" cart seen next to Pomreeda's caravan.
  • Cat Scare: If you pair two tablets that don't match in the Mummy Tomb, a cat screeches.
  • Circus of Fear: Pomreeda's cart appears to be part of this kind of place. It's easy to miss the abandoned cart next to hers reading "Cirque du Jumpstart".
  • Closed Circle: It's greatly implied that no one is allowed to leave Haunted Island.
  • Defanged Horrors: You don't actually die, and the monsters won't actually hurt you in any way that's overt... however, they will scare you, and answering Repsac's questions incorrectly will cost you health.
  • Difficulty Levels: Anywhere from three to five of them, depending on the game. In the original 1996 release, leveling could only be accessed by pressing "Ctrl-L." The 1998 version added an onscreen leveling feature, although using "Ctrl-L" still works incidentally.
  • The Dragon: Repsac with Ms. Grunkle as the Big Bad.
  • Easter Egg: Pressing the up arrow in front of the Cirque du Jumpstart cart will cut to a spooky version of the town from JumpStart Pre-K. The cast's portraits even show up on the top of the cart.
  • Evil Laugh: Repsac has an impressive one. Ms. Grunkle has one too.
  • Exposition Fairy: Flap, a purple bat that sounds like Peter Lorre.
  • Eye of Newt: In the Enchanted Forest game, the magic potion requires bat bile, moss slime, and frog gas.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Haunted Island is a grab bag of anything conceivably Halloweenish. Ghosts, vampires, and witches are to be expected, but an Egyptian pyramid? In the middle of a spooky forest with gnarled trees? God knows how that got there.
  • Fetch Quest: The game is mostly a series of these. You have thirteen classmates to save and four items are required to save one. You have to play three mini-games (in the '96 version) or two mini-games (in the '98 version) to get just one item. So in all, you have to play 156 mini-games to save all your classmates in the '96 version, reduced to 104 in the '98 version.
  • Guide Dang It!: Early releases of the game only include the island map in the user's guide. Thus, if you don't have the user's guide, you can't navigate the island effectively and are pretty much screwed, and since most kids were playing this at school, it was highly doubtful the teachers still had it lying around in their classroom. (Clever form of Copy Protection, though.) Later releases omitted the map in the user's guide and included the map in-game.
  • Halloween Town: The titular island, with its witches, ghosts, monsters, spiders, bats, and generally creepy atmosphere.
  • Healing Spring: The Fountain of Health in the Labyrinth, if you can find it.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Nearly everything on Haunted Island appears black and blue. That is, until you get close to it, which somehow makes it show up in full color.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: The bugs in the spider spelling challenge protest this when Flap expresses doubt in Pomreeda's belief that the letter bugs are cute.
  • "Just So" Story: One of the Cemetery stories explains why witches are so mean: a long time ago, a friendly witch was cheated by a traveling broom salesman.
  • Locked Door: Ms. Grunkle's house is linear, and the only way to progress through it is to open doors that contain five locks on each. They can only be opened with skeleton keys earned every 5000 points.
  • Karma Houdini: After you've saved all your classmates, Ms. Grunkle pulls a Villain: Exit, Stage Left, telling you that We Will Meet Again.
  • The Lost Woods: If you don't want to warp with your map, you'll have to walk through this.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: Occurs in, what else, the Cemetery minigame, which is essentially Mad Libs.
  • Medium Blending: The game constantly flips between CGI animation and 2-D animation. Additionally, the CGI animations are obviously meant to look like Stop Motion, à la The Nightmare Before Christmas. For the most part, the main game is pre-rendered CGI while the mini games are 2-D. The main characters (Flap, Ms. Grunkle, etc.) are always CGI. Your classmates look CGI in the opening sequence, but they are 2-D animated in the yearbook and Madame Pomreeda's Crystal Ball.
  • Monster Clown: Calvin gets turned into one.
  • Monster Mash: Pretty much all the classic monsters are represented in the game in some capacity, even if it's only as the monster form of one of the kids. For instance, one of the kids was turned into a Frankenstein's Monster.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted. Ms. Grunkle's bathroom is one of the rooms you pass through in her house, and you even see a toilet in there.
    "You're getting a bit too close for comfort!"
  • Nothing Is Scarier: For added tension while walking around the island, you will never know when Repsac will suddenly appear and say "Boo!" right in your face. Even within the Labyrinth...
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Flap sounds rather like Peter Lorre, while the friendly ghost in the Mad Libs game you're trying to save is based on Rodney Dangerfield (from a visual perspective, he also sounds like W. C. Fields, with a big nose to match).
  • No Swastikas: Averted. The Mummy's Tomb minigame features a number of historical photographs, including one of a Nazi flag. Well, if it's educational...
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
  • Pirate Tropes: The geography activity is pirate-themed, so it includes a number of these:
    • Boarding Party: Implied. If you lose one of the cannon battle mini-mini games mentioned below, your ammo and supply counts go down.
    • Pirate: Type 1. The pirates in the geography game are your enemies, and if you run into one of their ships, you'll have to sink it in a cannon battle mini-mini game.
      • Ghost Pirate: Possibly. You don't actually see the pirates themselves, but their ships are all white and ghostly. Oddly, your ship is too.
    • Pirate Booty: You have to identify the countries that have buried treasure based on the geographical clues.
    • Pirate Parrot: Picking up supplies is accompanied by a parrot sound effect.
    • Talk Like a Pirate: Naturally. While you don't see the pirates, a pirate voiceover gloats at you during the cannon battle mini-mini game and follows this trope.
      • Oddly averted on your ship, where the only pirate you hear (presumably your first mate) speaks with a British Accent.
    • Treasure Map: The game is played on a parchment-looking world map, which nevertheless has modern-day (i.e. 1990s) countries and borders.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Not in the game proper, but all the songs you have to play in the music activity are conveniently out of copyright. They run the gamut from classical music to folk songs to spirituals and so on. After you perform a song successfully, Semimoto tells you what you just played.
  • Punny Name:
    • Madame Pomreeda (Palm Reader).
    • Many of the children in the game also have names that relate to their character archetype or monster, such as Penny Scilin (an aspiring doctor) and Wolfgang (a musician who turns into a werewolf.)
  • Properly Paranoid: A rare Real Life example. A lot of kids would use the Warp Whistle specifically to avoid Repsac.
  • Random Event: Running into Repsac happens at random in the game as you walk around the island. Ms. Grunkle also randomly appears before you on her broom to taunt you after completing an activity.
  • Retro Universe: Some of the children are explicitly from the modern day while others seem to be Disco Dans and they all go to school together in an old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse. The pirate activity seems to take place during The Cavalier Years, but none of the rest of the game does. Most of the stories you create in the cemetery activity are set in the present day. And, of course, the Mummy's Tomb has information updated to The '90s (the time when the game was made) even though Flap says it was "a long time ago" that anyone was in there.
  • Scenery Porn: Haunted Island is one of JumpStart's most beautifully detailed settings, looking like something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
  • Status Cell Phone: One of Laura's items is a (now outdated looking) cell phone, which the game considers reflective of her Class Representative personality. When the game was made in the mid-1990s, prepubescent children owning cell phones was very rare indeed.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: The evil ghost is named "Repsac". Yeah, "Casper" spelled backwards.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: How the children are shown being changed into monsters in the opening Cutscene.
  • Survival Horror: While walking around the island, you might be stalked by Repsac who will, if you answer his question wrong, deplete your health points. Also, you'll gradually lose health anyway.
  • Take Your Time: While some of the minigames are timed, some of the non-timed minigames like Frog Potion will try to make you hurry by saying Ms. Grunkle will jump you if you take too long. She never does, of course.
  • Themed Cursor: The game's cursor looks spooky and ghostly.
  • Tomato Surprise: The Cemetery story "Where is the Werewolf?" ends this way, at least when said ending is not altered by the Mad Libs aspect.
  • Toothy Bird: James is turned into a penguin with teeth.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The mutant swamp works this way. You're expected to experiment with the placement of the plants and with the amount of light and water they receive until you achieve a successful harvest.
  • Updated Re-release: Two years after its initial release, the game was rereleased with some changes:
    • As mentioned above, the re-release has an onscreen leveling feature (previously, leveling was activated by pressing "Ctrl-L") and an in-game map (previously, the island map was only included in the user's guide).
    • In the original, you have to play three mini-games to win one of the kid's belongings. The re-release reduces it to two mini-games, effectively shortening the entire game by one third.
    • When you complete the original version, the program automatically quits, and if you restart it, you'll be blocked from signing back into your old game. In the re-release, the game instead reverts to a kind of explorer mode in which you can still travel around the island and play the mini-games, but you're barred from entering Madame Pomreeda's cart or Ms. Grunkle's house.
    • Flap's explanation of the Mutant Swamp activity is more detailed, with Flap even going as far as to tell the player what to do step-by-step. This was likely done to make the activity seem less confusing.
    • Each treasure chest in the Pirate Ship activity used to be worth 200 points, meaning that five treasures had to be collected in order to win. The re-release changes the point value to 250, effectively reducing the completion requirement to four treasure chests.
  • Warp Whistle: The in-game map in the rerelease acted as one, as well as the progress report featured at the end of the yearbook. However, the game rewards you with points if you manually walk to your destination without warping. It also means the possibility of encountering Repsac, and many players have admitted to favoring the map.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Aside from Ms. Grunkle's house, all of Haunted Island is accessible from the start of the game. You're expected to play certain mini-games to complete the fetch quests and advance the story, but you're free to ignore that and do whatever you want. And unlike in 3rd Grade, you don't even really get nagged for straying from your mission.


Jumpstart Haunted Island

We've got kids turned into Frankenstein's Monster, a werewolf, Medusa, and so on...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MonsterMash

Media sources: