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North American cover art
|Designer(s)||Ste and John Pickford (Concept)
Lyndon Brooke (Graphics)
John Buckley (Code)
Plok is a Super Nintendo game developed by Software Creations and published by Tradewest Games in 1993 in North America, and later by Nintendo in Europe and Activision in Japan. The game is a traditional platform game starring a character named Plok.
Plok can launch any of his limbs at will to damage enemies. Once the damage has been done they return to Plok. Some puzzles involve having to "sacrifice" one of Plok's limbs to activate switches (thus gradually decreasing Plok's mobility and his chances in battle). Once a limb hits a switch, it is placed on a hanger that may be right next to the switch or several screens away; some switches also require certain limbs. Plok's secondary attack takes the form of a buzzsaw-like jump that not only gives him increased speed, but also dispatches enemies. Plok can pick up shells, which award extra lives and serve as ammunition for a special amulet received partway through the game. The amulet converts shells into power for Plok's secondary attack.
Power-ups come in the form of "presents" scattered throughout the majority of levels. If Plok locates one of these colorful gifts he is immediately transformed into a more powerful fighting machine for a brief length of time. These power-ups include a flamethrower, boxing gloves, a blunderbuss, dueling pistols and multiple rocket launchers. Specific presents yield vehicles that Plok can use in some later levels in the fleas' lair such as a unicycle, Jeep, jetpack, motorbike, tank, helicopter, Flying saucer and a pair of spring pogo shoes.
The player encounters a number of different enemies, such as the fleas.
Plok dwells on Akrillic, a large island in the fictional region of Polyesta. Plok wakes up one morning to find that his big square flag has been stolen. He must travel first to the nearby Cotton Island to retrieve it from the Bobbins Brothers.
After vanquishing the Bobbins Brothers, Plok returns to Akrillic to find that the island has been taken over by fleas, large blue creatures that jump around. He quickly learns that the theft of his flag was simply a decoy to lure him away from Akrillic and leave it unguarded. Plok must travel throughout Akrillic, ridding the island of fleas. Partway through the game, Plok takes a break to catch a nap, during which he dreams of Grandpappy Plok's search on Legacy Island for a magical amulet, which is eventually found and stumbled upon by Plok when he awakes.
Plok then heads into Plok Town, a thicket, and a cave facing the Penkinos, Womack Spider, and Rocky Fella. After clearing out all the fleas from Akrillic, Plok descends into Brendammi Bog where the fleapit, the source of all the fleas, is located. Riding various vehicles, Plok journeys deep into the Fleapit, ultimately challenging the Flea Queen.
Plok grew out of an aborted arcade game called Fleapit. Ste Pickford recounted:
The Fleapit game was developed for Rare's custom Razz hardware. It had such an odd (and brilliant) graphics system that it wasn't ever going to be possible to convert the half-finished Fleapit to another platform. We just kept working on the concept and idea after we started at [Software] Creations, looking for an opportunity to get the game made somehow. Toward then [sic] end of Equinox we presented the Plok concept to Rick [Kay, head of Software Creations]. We had our game designs, concept art, and a VHS tape of Fleapit. Rick liked the idea, and it became Software Creations' first self-funded original game, with John and I retaining ownership of the character and IP.
The game was presented to Nintendo for publication, and Shigeru Miyamoto expressed strong interest in working on the game. However, Nintendo ultimately decided against publishing Plok. Ste Pickford remarked, "I suspect Yoshi's Island was in development at the time, and perhaps Mr. Miyamoto decided Plok was too similar for it to be worth working on both."
In 2009, North American company Super Fighter Team released Zaku, a horizontal shooter for the Atari Lynx which features a special guest appearance by Plok. His appearance in the game was made possible with the official blessing of Ste and John Pickford, creators and copyright holders of the Plok character. The Pickfords later launched a Plok webcomic.
Electronic Gaming Monthly lauded the game as an exceptionally original title with every aspect done well, particularly praising the colorful graphics, the music, the level design, the secret areas, and the character's ability to throw his own limbs. They awarded the game a score of 8 out of 10.