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A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

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아프로만 Aproman

Founded:

1980

Status:

defunct

Key People:

:
President

Website:

none


Originally a chain of home computer hardware & software stores, which also pushed forward development of original domestic games after the first computer program copyright law was enacted in Korea in 1987. Aproman relied mostly on publishing software by external developers, and it is not certain whether there ever was an internal development team. The company also used to distribute a bunch of language training programs, Hangeul word processors and Western edutainment titles1. The last time Aproman became involved with game publishing was upon the release of Mantra's version of Ys 2. On February 12, 1997 the company filed for bankruptcy2. A PC systems retailer with the same name and logo registered in 20073. It doesn't seem to be directly related, but rather just an homage, though.


Games

神劍의 전설 (Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol) - APPLE ][ (October 1987)

Cover

Nam Inhwan programmed Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol together with his friend U Hyeoncheol during his high school days. Whether or not it was the first Korean game released, publisher Aproman advertised it at least as the first game fully using the Korean script Hangeul.

Despite the high prestige it enjoys until today, the retro community knows surprisingly little about the game itself. It was initially planned as a series, and it certainly owed a lot to Richard Garriot's Ultima. The similarities go so far as Nam making himself the king of the fantasy kingdom, just like Garriot inserted himself into Britannia as Lord British.

Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol is even more confusing than the most obfuscate early Ultima episodes. There's a whole world to walk around towns to visit and people to talk to. Players can board ships and ride horses for hours without discovering so much as a hint towards any heroic quests or even monsters to fight. NPCs can be talked to via a parser, but without any outside hints there's no way of knowing what to ask them.

Nam later reappeared at the small developing studio Ecstasy Entertainment in the mid-90s and made a sequel, after all. In the new millenium, he co-founded Aeonsoft to create the popular free to play MMORPG Flyff.

Quick Info:

Designer:

Nam Inhwan

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

RPG


Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol (Apple II)

Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol (Apple II)


우주전사둘리 (Uju Jeonsa Dooly) - APPLE ][ (April 1988)

Cover

This is only the first of many games based on the popular Dooly cartoon series. Here, the baby dinosaur becomes an astronaut. Set in the far future of 2001, the story about two planets, a wealthy democratic one, and the surpressed world reigned by the evil dictator 'Dragon' is quite elaborate for this type of early arcade style game. Dooly has crashlanded on earth, and has to get back to the planet Kkanttappia.

Uju Jeonsa Dooly is a mixture of many different genres. In the first two stages, Dooly has to catch food and fuel falling from the sky to power is space ship. After that follows a Breakout clone level, before he finally takes off into space, where the minions of Dragon attack for a shooting sequence. Then awaits a puzzle game to get through a black hole, and finally a rush of several bosses.

Sadly, the game hasn't been preserved by now, and it is uncertain whether there are any working copies left. The screenshots are not in the best quality because of this.

Quick Info:

Designer:

No Huyeol
Chae Deogyeong
Im Gyuhyeong

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

Mini Games


Uju Jeonsa Dooly (Apple II)

Uju Jeonsa Dooly (Apple II)


제3차우주전쟁 (Je 3-cha Uju Jeonjaeng) - MSX (April 1988)

The title means "Space War 3", but rather than being the 3rd part of a series, the number is to be read like in World War III. Practically nothing is known about this game. It appeared in an Aprosoft magazine ad and release list, but it is uncertain whether or not it still exists.

Advertisement Art


꾀돌이 (Kkoedori) / Koedoli - MSX (October 1988)

Advertisement Art

This puzzle platformer by Mickey Soft is easily the best Korean MSX1 game. Similar to Tecmo's Solomon's Key, levels are conquered by building and deleting blocks to find the key that opens the door to the next level. But here, blocks can only be built diagonally upwards to form stairs, and deleted blocks are turned into traps for the moving enemies. There are other extras, like an armor that protects from projectiles. Most of the game is pretty tricky and well designed, only a handful of levels are build purely to waste the player's time.

Kkoedori is not without flaws, though. Every few levels a password is shown, but a function to type them in is nowhere to be found. The harsh extra life limit with no continues makes it very hard to complete the game in a single run. The team also has to be criticized for stealing the background music. The tune heard during a level is the Korean title music to the 1980's anime series Magical Princess Minky Momo, while the ending is taken from Galaxy Express 999. Nonetheless a great game. Too bad Mickey Soft never resurfaced with new software.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Mickey Soft

Designer:

Kim Gwanglae
Jang Changsoo

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

Puzzle
Platforming


Kkoedori (MSX)

Kkoedori (MSX)


미스 애플 (Miss Apple) - APPLE ][ (1989)


Cover

Miss Apple was the winning program in a coding competition held by Aproman together with SKC Softland. In 80 stages, Miss Apple has to maneuver through a labyrinth to collect all the apples to reach the next maze.

On the surface the game seems like a Pac-Man clone, but it features a few interesting gameplay systems. Instead of ghosts, Miss Apple is hunted by quarter apples, and if she can trick them into bumping together, the resulting half Apple can be eaten to enable Miss Apple to go through walls for a short time.

This is another game that has not been preserved, yet.

Quick Info:

Designer:

Seo Boram
Jeon Hyeonggeun

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

Puzzle


Miss Apple (Apple II)

Miss Apple (Apple II)


미스 퍼즐 (Miss Puzzle) - Apple ][ (1989)

A simple puzzle game for the Apple II, consisting of 6 stages.

Miss Puzzle (Apple II)

Quick Info:

Designer:

Choe Wanseop

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

Puzzle



띠띠!빵빵! (Tti Tti! Ppang Ppang!) - MSX (1989)


Advertisement Art

Programmed by Jang Sungmok, the platformer with the funny name uses graphics from Choro Q and also shares similarities with Jump Bug, but it is a completely different game. The player car constantly drives at high speed and never brakes nor stops, the only ways to maneuver are changing direction and jump. The journey goes over rivers and skyscraper rooftops, an explanation what business a car with a propeller on top has got there is missing. Collision detection is very asinine, and after dying, the game likes to respawn the car just above another deadly gap.

There are three stages, each has its own enemy type in addition to the omnipresent skulls: Construction cars at the beginning, cuttlefish in the second stage, and finally helicopters. After all three stages, the sequence just repeats over and over again.

Quick Info:

Designer:

Jang Sungmok

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

Platforming


Tti Tti! Ppang Ppang! (MSX)


King's Valley / 왕의 계곡 (Wang-ui Gyegok) - IBM PC (1989)

This inofficial port to Konami's King's Valley 2 was one of the first commercial Korean PC games. Like most other games developed for the system, it was presented in plain black&white color and PC speaker sound, which just couldn't compete with the colorful and atmospheric original. The controls aren't quite as responsive, either. Because of the lack of colour, there's only one type of mummy enemy as opposed to the different colored ones on the MSX2, which means that all mummies are able to climb ladders from the beginning.

The first two levels are similar to King's Valley 2, but after that they completely differ. However, if anyone just wanted more stages for the game, they would have been better be advised to get some edit data for the original instead.

Quick Info:

Publisher:

Aproman

Genre:

Puzzle
Platforming


King's Valley (IBM PC)


References
1. Edutainment Software Advertisement
2. ET News 2/13/1997
3. Saramin: Aproman business profile


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