Author: Pete

Retro Monday – Plok

Retro Monday review PlokPlok was is an action platformer made by Software Creations for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.  It was published by different companies in different regions and came out in 1993.

Why did I choose Plok as the game for this week? Well, it’s something I played a little of as a kid and had fond memories of the brief time I had with it. The memories were nothing specific, just that I liked it. Now, going back to after 20 odd years and seeing the game still has massive bags of charm with fun gameplay is a joy.

The gameplay itself is pretty groovy, you play as the titular character Plok and have to jump, punch and kick your way through levels. The punch mechanic is similar to Rayman, in that you throw your limb and the enemies to kill them. only in this, you get four attacks as you use each limb as a projectile. One cool thing is certain targets you hit will make your limbs not return to you and instead go to a clothes hanger and you have to get them back. In one level I had to use three of my limbs in this way but didn’t get them back until I found a power-up, which not only gave me a gun but also when it ran out I received all my limbs. Speaking of power-ups, I only had three but they were varied. One was a boxer, that let you punch indefinitely. Another had a sort of blunderbuss that had a shotgun-like spread shot and the last was a flamethrower which came in really handy.

Musically the game has a pretty sweet rock-inspired soundtrack, and it has some nice variety in its styles, like having a different feeling soundtrack when you play as Grandpappy Plok, I was told on the stream that there’s a rumour that when Shigeru Miyamoto heard the intro music he believed it came from a SNES with a custom chip. You then have the visuals which ooze charm, they’re vibrant, well detailed, and all-around well made. The levels are fantastic, the sprites are simply glorious. It has to be one of the best looking SNES games I have seen.

Verdict: Highly recommended

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Retro Monday – U.N. Squadron

Hi everyone. I’m here to let you know what I thought of U.N. Squadron after a week or so’s break.

It was made by Capcom and was originally an arcade game that came out in 1989. It was later released on consoles, and the version I’m playing was released on the SNES in 1991 (and 1992 in Europe).

We’ll start off with the basics. It’s a side-on side scrolling shooter – think R-Type or Gradius – but with a more modern skin than the futuristic space battle of those aforementioned games. You can pick between three characters, of which I have no clue as to what they do other than changing the portrait on your HUD.

You take down enemy helicopters, planes, tanks, gun emplacements and all that jazz. It doesn’t really do anything special and I don’t think it stands out from the crowd when it comes to its genre. One thing that is different to the usual is a levelling system, as you pick up power-ups that give you experience to level instead of getting power-ups that give you different weapons. You also don’t have one-hit deaths, instead you have a health bar and you don’t lose your level when you die. You also have a map screen to pick where you go next, kind of like Bionic Commando, but you have vehicles that move towards your base slowing progress, more so when they get there as you have to beat the vehicle’s stage to carry on with normal progression.

Visually the game is a mixed bag. The sprites are rather nice, but the backgrounds just seem a little bland. It’s probably as there’s going to be points where the game gets really busy, but I would say overall it’s pretty nice to look at. Musically it’s pretty good too. The music is really catchy and the first level has a sort of sinister undertone to it. I think the nice beefy sound effects elevate the action.

Verdict: Recommended

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Retro Monday – Gekibo: Gekisha Boy

Gekibo: Gekisha Boy is a Japan-only PC Engine game that came out in 1992. It was made by Tomcat System and was published by Irem.

This is a game that again I never heard of, and with good reason as it wasn’t released outside of Japan. The game is a side-scrolling shoot ’em up… well, kinda – you shoot a camera. The game scrolls along and you automatically move with it, you can move your character left and right, and jump, but moving left and right also moves the cursor with which you take your shots.  For me it was a little on the fiddly side,  I think a modern control scheme with dual analogues would work great or a mouse to use for the cursor.

The game itself is OK, I think the gameplay is average at best. To me the main draw of the game is the things you can take photos of, interesting little things that happen as you walk through the level. For example, in the very first stage, you can take a photo of UFOs, one abducting a car, a plane crash, a flasher – yes, a pervy guy flashing his junk – and even a DeLorean flying in the sky then jumping through time. On stage two it ranges from King Kong to Micheal Jackson.

Unfortunately, with its slow-moving cursor and things appearing at set times only briefly, it’s hard to get good pictures. It’s really one of those games you have to play over and over to get used to when and where things are going to pop out, which is OK. But once you’ve seen the cool stuff that it shows you, you don’t really get the thrill on the second or third playthrough.

Graphically the game is rather good, there’s a great style to the characters and locations. The downside is I can’t even remember the music. I’m sure there was some there, but it’s totally forgettable. I think this is a game to try – not for how good or bad it is – but because it’ll be fun to see references to real life, films, music and just plain wacky stuff.

Verdict: Tentatively recommended.

Join Pedz for Retro Monday on GRcade’s Twitch channel every week, and vote on what he plays next on GRcade