The Super Nintendo has a number of fantastic platformers, but one that has always stuck with us was Software Creations' Plok. Designed by the legendary Pickford Brothers, it featured a hood-headed figure with detachable limbs, as well as fantastically named characters like the Bobbins Brothers, in an adventure spanning many wonderful and colourful stages.
The game started life at the Manchester-based developer Zippo Games as an unfinished arcade coin-op called Fleapit for the Stamper Brothers' then-in-development Razz Board. However, when Zippo (or Rare Manchester as it was later called) closed its doors, the Pickfords took the project to Software Creations where they started creating a new version for Nintendo's 16-bit machine.
The above has all been covered extensively in the past in countless 'Making Of' articles, but one detail that we never knew about was that the SNES exclusive almost made its way over to the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, a year or so after the original game was released. This bit of information comes courtesy of Software Creations' programmer Kev Edwards who shared the titbit on Twitter in response to an old Game Fan interview from 1994 with Software's co-founder Mike Webb and Plok designer Ste Pickford.
In that old interview, Webb mentions the existence of this port, stating that work on it had just finished:
“We’ve just finished Plok on the Mega Drive and we’ve got several other SNES and Mega Drive titles on the go. Unlike most developers, we’re not diving feet first into CD ROM development and we prefer just to concentrate on these, as well as the occasional Master System or Game Boy title. We’re looking into CD-ROM, but we certainly won’t be developing on it for a good while yet.”
Sadly, the reason why this port was cancelled seems to be a bit of a mystery, but Edwards was able to share some other information about how the team converted its code across platforms:
"I'd forgotten all about Sega Mega Drive PLOK until I saw this. IIRC we had a conversion utility that converted the 65c816 ( SNES CPU ) code into 68000. Once the heavy lifting was done the 68K code had to be hand-optimized to get it working correctly."
According to Ste Pickford, on Twitter, this version of the game also looked and played pretty much the same, but ultimately suffered from a lot of slow down and bugs that were never properly fixed.
Nevertheless, it's remarkable to think that in another timeline Plok may have seen a release on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. We hope that in the future some footage emerges from this abandoned port, to give us a better look at this strange sliding door moment in platforming history.