Plok

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Plok
Plok
North American cover art
Developer(s)Software Creations
Publisher(s)
Designer(s)Ste and John Pickford (Concept)
Lyndon Brooke (Graphics)
John Buckley (Code)
Composer(s)Tim Follin
Geoff Follin
Platform(s)Super NES
Release
  • NA: September 1993
  • JP: December 10, 1993
  • EU: November 27,1993
Genre(s)Platform
Mode(s)Single-player

Plok is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Software Creations and released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993. It is a traditional platform game starring a red-hooded character named Plok. The game is notable for its difficulty, as it contains some unexpected bullet hell elements, difficult level design in the later levels, a lack of save features, and limited continues.

Gameplay[edit]

The game's world map

Plok can launch any of his limbs at will to damage enemies as projectiles from his arms and feet. Once the damage has been done, they instantly returns to Plok's body. In later levels, 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 as items, but also dispatches enemies at the highest damage. 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. There are four letters in the name "PLOK" that appear to be dimmed at the top right of the screen. If the player either finds a checkpoint item or completed the level without dying, one of the four letters light up. Once all of the letters light up, they will receive a continue.

There are also fruits that can heal Plok's health; the more he punches, the bigger the fruits get and more health he receives. In some levels, some fruits can either send Plok to a timed bonus stage where he must reach a goal, or a strange room where he must collect all the shells to progress. Completing these will have Plok warp to the next level - some of them can possibly skip boss fights.

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 aforementioned fleas. For fleas, in order for the player to complete the level, Plok must destroy every single one them in every level (with the exceptions of Cotton Island, Legacy Island, and Fleapit), where the last one drops a flag which levitates to its flag pole and allows the player to progress.

Plot[edit]

The first level of Cotton Island.

As king, Plok dwells on Akrillic, a large island in the fictional region of Polyesta. Plok wakes up one morning and notices his big square flag on the pole on his house's rooftop has been stolen, and goes out searching for it. He sails from Akrillic to the nearby Cotton Island to find it. Plok mistakes some imposter flags for his own, becoming irritated in the process. Plok encounters the two giants creatures who are responsible for placing the fake flags, the Bobbins Brothers, who Plok's grandpappy had warned him about. He fights the Bobbins Brothers for his flag.

After defeating the Bobbins Brothers and getting his big square flag back, Plok sails his way back to Akrillic. The next day, he finds the island has been infested and overtaken by "fleas", an annoying medium-sized two-legged blue insects that hatch from eggs and hop around. Plok learns that the theft of his large flag was simply a decoy to lure him away from Akrillic. Plok travels through Akrillic, defeating every single flea on the surface in order to reclaim his island. Partway through the game, Plok places the big square flag back where it belongs outside his home, and then takes a break as he sits on a foot of the statue of his grandfather, Grandpappy Plok, wishing he had found an amulet to help him deal with the fleas. He takes a nap, and has an odd dream of his grandfather's search for an amulet 50 years ago.

In the dream, the player plays as Grandpappy Plok as he sails from Akrillic to Legacy Island, and shares the same experience of what his grandson is doing now: traveling through bizarre obstacles, discovering wrong artifacts like a vase, and dealing with the same Bobbin Brothers, as well as their third brother Irving. Having defeated the Bobbin Brothers, Grandpappy finally dug up an amulet and sailed back to Akrillic victoriously. Back to the present day, Plok wakes up and discovers that the amulet is located at the bottom of the statue. Plok's mission on getting his island back continues, now with an ability where he can turn himself into a saw.

Plok then heads into various of locations around the island while facing other creatures who also have an intention to take over the island as well: the magicians Penkinos, a large spider Womack, and a huge humanoid rock creature Rockyfella. After confronting them as he clears out all the fleas from Akrillic, Plok descends into Brendammi Bog where the source of all the fleas is located, the Fleapit. There, Plok notices various presents waiting for him as he rides on various vehicles. Plok journeys deep down into the Fleapit, and ultimately challenging a large insect who is responsible for hatching all the fleas around his island and their ruler, the Flea Queen. Plok eventually vanquishes her with bug spray and returns home for a well-deserved sleep on his green chair.

Development[edit]

Plok grew out of an unfinished arcade game called Fleapit in 1990 by company Zippo Games, with the idea having been in development since the late 1980's. 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.[1]

The game was presented to Nintendo for publication, and Shigeru Miyamoto expressed a 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." [1] The game was however featured on the Super Mario All Stars video tape - A promotional VHS which formed part of the Super NES "Mario Set" bundle in the UK and Ireland.

The Pickford brothers stated that a saturated market for platform games may have contributed to the game's low sales, despite positive reviews, and that the game was perhaps a bit too difficult, especially lacking a password or save system. [2]

Other appearances[edit]

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.[3] His appearance in the game was made possible with the official blessing of Ste and John Pickford, creators and copyright holders of the Plok and the characters.

The Pickfords later launched a Plok webcomic. From there, the webcomic takes place 20 years after the game as it features new characters and some returning ones like Rockyfella. The comic sometimes used pop-culture references from other games and other media, in-joke reference and commentaries on the game's development and its future.[1]

In 2020, the Follin composed soundtracks were released on Vinyl via Respawn Records [1]

Reception[edit]

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.[4] Super Play gave the game 90%.[5]

Writing for Nintendolife, Marcel von Duyn said "the soundtrack is the cream of the crop... it's one of the absolute best on the SNES, and will leave you wondering quite often how some of these songs were even possible on the system's hardware." [6]

Plok's soundtrack, composed by Tim Follin became as popular as the game itself[citation needed] to the point of having a vinyl release in June 2020.[7]

The game is also featured in the book of "1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bevan, Mike (December 2013). "Bubbles, Baseball and Buzz Saws...". Retro Gamer (122). Imagine Publishing. pp. 74–79.
  2. ^ "Plok Archive". www.zee-3.com. Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  3. ^ "Official Zaku website". Archived from the original on 2013-06-22. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  4. ^ "Review Crew: Plok!". Electronic Gaming Monthly (51). EGM Media, LLC. October 1993. p. 38.
  5. ^ Leach, James (June 1994). "New to the UK". Super Play. No. 20. p. 65.
  6. ^ Life, Nintendo (2010-09-22). "Review: Plok (Super Nintendo)". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  7. ^ rpbtz (2020-04-18). "The soundtrack to Plok is now available to preorder from Respawned". blip blop. Retrieved 2021-01-10.

External links[edit]