However, it's much more likely that Nintendo fans will think of 'Plok!' when they think of the Pickford Brothers. This vibrant platforming game grew in the mind of former comic book designer Ste back in the late eighties. It's an eccentric game where the main protagonist is "an exploding man" that can launch his own limbs at enemies.
At one point for example, Plok falls asleep against a statue of his grandfather. In a monochrome dream sequence the player is then able to relive the past adventures of the protagonist’s forebear. As Jonathan Davis said in his review for Super Play magazine, "there's a continual flood of new ideas and new things to do. Even if your shelves are brimming with cute platform games, there's sure to be room for one more". Super Play magazine even once said that 'Plok!' "manages to lift the trophy for best UK produced platformer". It wasn’t a view shared by the world though. A French magazine once said that “'Plok!’ is a strange game that does not quite gel with people.” "Weird”, “strange” and “odd” are typically the words that punctuate American reviews.
He can even drive novelty vehicles around, not unlike acertain underwater agent with a penchant for extendable suits. The Pickfords claim that a lot of these similarities were coincidental, and the flurry of platform games in the early nineties had a big impact on the success that the game deserved. "The great cute-character-platform-game apocalypse of '92 hit us hard!" They write on their website. "The general idea of a colourful, cute character jumping around in a scrolling platform environment, and even some of the specific game play ideas in 'Plok' were no longer as fresh as they were when we conceived them." With limited resources, although creatively free to do as they chose development by the Pickfords was slow.
As a result the game was released after 'Zool' , 'Xandras Big Adventure', 'CoolSpot', 'Super Mario World', 'Sonic the Hedgehog', 'Super Mario All Stars', 'Aero the Acrobat', 'Bob', 'Alfred the Chicken', 'Mickeys Magical Quest', 'Mr Nuts', 'Robocod' and 'Bubsy the Bobcat' to name but a few. 'Plok' was lost in the melee and the game was overlooked by the public. ""Not another bloody cute character platformer," seemed to be the general response", the Pickford Brothers acknowledge mournfully. "Despite some great reviews, I think it was perceived as yet another bandwagon jumping cute platformer and didn't achieve the commercial success we were hoping for.
Plok seems bewildered and confused by the ways in which the video games industry has changed. Perplexed by a time when developers are forced to give their games always for free, The Exploding Man (and by logical extension the Pickford Brothers) yearns for an era when times were simpler. He looks at modern games with a childlike naïveté; quick time events and cut scenes detract from the immersion, motion control gaming is more of an inconvenience than an improvement. Although it's never overtly stated you can't help but think that, like so many of us, Plok believes that technical progression has meant beauty at the expense of challenge.
Thank you so much to Ste and John Pickford for helping with the finer details of this review and for allowing its publication. I urge you all to read the very amusing web comic and if you enjoy it do support it.