I was quite young when i received my first games console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES for short). Packaged along with it was a small selection of games lovingly prepared by my parents. Amongst them was Plok, a small gem that held my attention against other gems such as Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country and the likes.
The premise of this game is that the titular character, Plok, has to rid his island of fleas. This is undergone through the completion of levels (selected from the overworld) and the defeating of bosses akin to many platformer games at the time. The game consists of two islands, where the first can be considered a 'learning' stage. The real story arc doesnt begin until the player arrives on the main island.
In essence the gameplay is very simple. The aim is to destroy all fleas in the level before progressing to the flag at the end of the level.
Plok's movements consist of walking, jumping and doing somersaults (which very similar to Sonic's). Plok's combat abilities are very unique and add a fun, sometimes challenging, gameplay mechanic. This is because Plok uses his limbs as weapons. Similar to the floating limbs of Rayman, Plok does not have physical attachments to his hands or feet. This grants him the heroic abilities of 'throwing' his limbs at enemies to damage them. This is how fleas can be destroyed. The throwing of limbs is not only for damage but can be used to 'activate' targets which cause a shift in the environment, allowing Plok to reach new places. Herein lies the gameplay mechanic. Each time Plok hits a target, his limb flies to the nearest coat hanger. The first two hits of targets don't inhibit Plok's movements, but one more target and he will begin to hop. 4 shots will see Plok bounce on his de-limbed torso at an extremely slow rate. The use of limbs does not only inhibit Plok's movement but also the rate at which he can fire at fleas. By visiting the closest coat hanger, Plok can regain his limbs.
Such a friendly fellow
Mario, Donkey Kong etc. all saw the character fight through the level from point A to B. The goal of Plok isn't so straightforward. Plok must first destroy all the fleas and collect all his limbs before reaching the goal. Often times Plok may need to travel to one end of the level to hit a target to activate a pillar to move before retrieving the limbs at the other end of the level. Sometimes the design of levels can be quite clever, while others can be plain annoying, such as hiding fleas in the most annoying of locations.
The bonuses in Plok are very cool. One of the bonuses is a present that Plok can touch, instantly changing him into a 'super' version of Plok. Such version include boxing Plok, cowboy Plok, flamethrower Plok etc.
Other bonuses includes berries that can be fired at until they are destroyed, sometimes allowing the play to skip levels or gain extra shells (which add up to lives).
The one thing that hurts the game the most is its lack of a save function. No battery save, no code, nothing. If you want to play through Plok, you have to do it in one sitting. This really inhibits the game from being a suggestion to anyone who doesn't have a fair amount of time on their hands. Of course, with modern technology, emulations of the game can store and load 'freeze states' and those who understand require no further comment
One of the things I miss of SNES era games are their bright personalities. The colours in Plok are vibrant and the scenery and backgrounds are fun to look at.
One of the many settings Plok traverses
The characters are all well crafted sprites that are bursting with personailty. For a game of this era, there is not much more that anyone can ask. Sure, the graphics may be simple compared to works like Donkey Kong Country, but the simple graphics really add to the carefree and fun nature of the game.
Jive Hive and the Funky Bs
Must I post more?
Now this is where Plok really shines. The music and sounds in Plok are absolutely superb.
Simply put, the music tracks in Plok rivals anything that I have heard in SNES games. I... i can't even explain the epicness of the Plok soundtrack. Seriously, listen for yourself.
Upbeat Plok Theme (it even has a guitar solo!)
Eerie Boss Theme
Pure Awesome Level Tune
Absolutely great music.
Not much to say here other than, each action has its own quirky and unique effect which all work well and suit their purpose.
(Honestly, sometimes I feel theres somethings missing in the standard 'score review' of games. Something that neither gameplay, graphics nor sound can explain. Lets call it 'soul')
Overall (Not an average) 9/10
Plok is a great game that was released alongside brilliant games. Shadowed by games such as Super Mario World, Plok never got the acclaim it deserved. So here I am, giving it the spotlight, albeit little, that it deserves.
Edited by The Colonel, 06 August 2009 - 10:29 PM.