Brock Crocodile: the indie platformer steeped in 16-bit Sega nostalgia

Sega’s far from the powerhouse it was in the 1990s, but the firm’s late 20th-century heyday is still fondly remembered by a generation of fans; hence the arrival of such devices as the Sega Mega Drive Mini and the curiously tiny Game Gear Micro. For British indie developer Javed Miah, his upcoming game Brock Crocodile is an expression of his love for all things Sega; what began as a Sonic the Hedgehog fan project 20 years ago has since blossomed into a much broader side-scrolling platformer that takes its cue from a variety of golden-era Sega titles.

“The idea itself of the character is a very old one,” says Miah. “As a kid in the nineties, I had dreams of making my own games when I grew up, and I started sketching out game characters and worlds. Brock was one of the earliest ideas to come about. Fast forward to 2010, and one night in late September, while practising my pixel art, I decided to draw Brock and co. Every couple of months, I would revisit it and do level tilesets and character sprites as I tried improving my art skills. Sometime in late 2013, I finally decided to take the plunge and started working on the game engine using Multimedia Fusion.”

Although imagined as a side-scrolling platformer from the beginning, and starring a whip-cracking crocodilian hero inspired by Indiana Jones, Miah’s game has changed considerably over the past seven years. It began as a distinctly 8-bit infused action game, with a limited colour palette and smaller sprites inspired by Sega Master System titles like Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap or Dynamite Dux, but Miah opted to give the whole project a graphical upgrade in 2015. “After some feedback from fans, I decided to ‘jump’ up a generation and aimed to emulate the Mega Drive instead,” Miah tells us. “This meant a complete graphical overhaul, redesigning various sprites, and reworking how the game worked.”

Hub worlds provide a welcome change of pace between the jumping and boss battling, and allow the game’s wealth of incidental characters to come to the fore. 

In its revised form, Brock Crocodile is now a platform adventure of two contrasting halves: there’s the relaxing pace of the game’s town hubs, where Brock can chat to the locals about his progress through the adventure and buy upgrades, and the more hectic action stages, which are loaded with traps, items to collect, and enemies to defeat. Brock’s whip is, unsurprisingly, his main line of defence: it can be used as both a melee weapon and as a means of swinging across spiked pits, while a secondary attack, an upgradeable ‘fruitgun’, is useful for blasting foes at a distance.

Brock Crocodile’s level layouts, with their multiple routes, recalls Sonic’s early adventures at first glance, but the pace of movement is closer to another nineties game cited by Miah: Donald Duck’s Mega Drive outing, QuackShot. The game’s twin hub worlds, meanwhile, draw on the action-RPG stylings of the Wonder Boy series, albeit with a bit of nineties attitude from the NPC dialogue, courtesy of writer Luke Habib. Brock Crocodile may have begun as a solo passion project, but Miah’s gradually amassed a small team to support him as it’s expanded in scope. “It was a very natural growth,” says Miah. “In 2014, I met Ap0c (Steve Lakawicz) who’s been contributing every sound effect and music track you hear on the project. In 2015, we brought our writer Luke Habib on board. Then the pace of the project really picked up when we brought on another artist, Miles Arquio, and coder Mark Boyde-Shaw in 2018, as they both took over the duties I’d been managing, allowing me to focus more on level design and coming up with new ideas for the game.”

Brock Crocodile is far from the first game to use a whip/swinging mechanic, but this one’s nicely balanced and fun to use.

Despite that growing team of developers, Brock Crocodile remains a part-time project; something Miah and his collaborators are fitting around day jobs and other commitments. As a result, Miah did find himself scaling his ambitions back at one stage; what began as a roster of some 20 boss enemy types was cut in half (so each area now has just one boss rather than two), and the number of hubs was cut from four to two. Difficult decisions like these were important to keeping the game manageable, but Miah still found ways to incorporate some of his ideas into the more condensed areas. “One of the minibosses we had planned was at the end of the first bee [themed] stage,” he explains. “Brock would run onto a movie set for a giant monster film, and he would have to battle a patched up Mecha-Croczilla. While this idea was dropped, we managed to combine it with the boss you see at the end of the bee stage now, where the boss is piloting a mechanised bee monster.”

Playing through the latest Brock Crocodile demo (, it’s clear just how much effort Miah and his small team have put into this nineties love letter. Every character in the game, from the most imposing boss to the most incidental NPC, is accompanied by detailed art and a similarly in-depth backstory. With those characters and boss fights now in place, Miah says that his long-running project is now on its final stretch; there are levels to design and cutscenes still to be completed, but he hopes the finished game will emerge for PC in 2021. As for a port to consoles, Miah isn’t ruling it out. “We’re happy to explore the option for ports, such as the Nintendo Switch, but for that, we need people to show their support for the project and let us know on our social media accounts,” he says. “With enough support, it’s something we can look into in the future!” 

Spending cash on weapon upgrades is one of several nods to the Wonder Boy series.

Pet Croc Sounds

Brock Crocodile enthusiastically recreates the feel of 16-bit era games, which also extends to the music, Miah explains. “To create the soundtrack, Steve Lakawicz has been using DefleMask,” he says. “DefleMask is a music tracker that allows you to write music that adheres to the specific limitations of many old gaming consoles – including Sega Mega Drive, PC Engine, Sega Master System, and more. The true advantage to this, however, is that it also allows you to export your music in formats that can easily be played back on actual game consoles – which is something the team and I feel very passionate about. The entire soundtrack and all of the sound effects you hear in Brock Crocodile are recorded directly from actual Mega Drive hardware.”

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