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A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

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동서산업개발 Dong Seo Interactive / DS게임채널 DS Game Channel

Founded:

February 1, 1987

Status:

uncertain (last activity 2004)

Key People:

:
CEO (until 1998)
:
CEO (May - Aug 1998)
:
CEO (Sep 1998 - Feb 2001)
:
CEO (from Feb 2001)

Website:

www.dsnet.co.kr


Dong Seo started to publish Western PC games in September 19901, almost a year earlier than its soon-to-be rival SKC Softland. Among their partners were big names like Lucasarts, EA, Sierra and Activision. As the first publisher of legally licensed PC games in Korea, Dongseo were also among the first to localize games, starting in 1992 with Eye of the Beholder (although that only affected the main game text, while the introduction, menus and other things were still in English.) Other early translated titles were Alone in the Dark and Dark Seed.

DS Game Channel set up an internal game development team a few years later, whose first released product was the interactive TV game Coba on the Run. The company was last working on the MMORTS Destiny Online, but there have been no news after a closed beta test was announced in 2004. Their website is still online, though.


Games

달려라 코바 (Dallyeora Coba) / Coba on the Run series - TV, IBM PC, Windows (1994-1996)

Compilation Cover

Coba on the Run was initially developed for an interactive game TV show, following a very similar concept to the Hugo show from Denmark. In several minigames, candidates at home would control the hero with their phone. In fact, some games are carbon copies of the annoying troll's adventures. Controls feel a lot smoother for Coba, but it's hard to tell how it played out with the phone.

The show first aired on October 24th2 and ran over three seasons, each with a number of new mini games. Especially the second season is remarkable, as it marked the first time rotoscope technology was used in a Korean TV show. Each set of games has been released also on disc for home use. Finally in 1999, DS put all the games on a single compilation for windows.

TV Show

Quick Info:

Developer:

DS Game Channel

Publisher:

DS Game Channel

Genre:

Mini Games


Coba on the Run (IBM PC)

Coba on the Run (IBM PC)

TV Show (season 2)

Concept Art


광개토대왕 (Gwang Gaeto Daewang) / The Forgotten Land - IBM PC (September 1995)

Even long before Koba was broadcasted, DS was already in development of the would-be the second real time strategy game world wide. Gwang Gaeto Daewang, based on the reign of the 4th century King Gwang Gaeto of Koguryeo, was originally scheduled for a release in early 1994. By that time, it would have predated Warcraft and only had Dune 2 to look for inspiration, which is why the interface looks rather derivative of the Westwood classic.

Things didn't quite work out as expected, though, and after massive delays the game finally shipped in fall 1995. Production values speak for the delay, though, as Gwang Gaeto Daewang features very atmospheric and elaborate pixel-art cutscenes and spoken dialogues. On the other hand, the archaic interface bare of any unit grouping, the really short campaign with only nine missions and the lack of a multiplayer mode leave one wondering what they did the whole two-and-a-half years of development time.

Quick Info:

Developer:

DS Game Channel

Publisher:

DS Game Channel

Designer:

Park Jinhwan
Yoon Wonbin

Genre:

Strategy (RTS)

Theme:

Korean History


Gwang Gaeto Daewang (IBM PC)

Gwang Gaeto Daewang (IBM PC)


삼국지 천명 (Samgukji Cheonmyeong) / Three Kingdoms Divine Destiny - IBM PC, Windows (January 1998)

삼국지 천명~손권의 야망~ (Samgukji Cheonmyeong: Son'gwon-ui Yamang) / Three Kingdoms: Altered Destiny - Windows (August 1998)

A common issue with Korean RTS games is the fact that most of them show all to clearly which Western role model they're derived from, and Three Kingdoms Divine Destiny is no exception. Despite the interesting premise of taking the Romance of the Three Kingdoms into a futuristic scenario, the game feels and looks very much like Command & Conquer.

Like in Westwoods hit series, buildings are placed on the map after their construction, and all buildings and units are comfortably accessible through a single menu. The most obvious rip-off are the mining vehicles that gather minerals from the earth. Only two of the factions were initially available, the third one was added by the extension Son'gweon-eui Yamang released in the same year as the main game. The factions do not require entirely different playing styles, but are rather similar with the differences mostly in design, details and of course the individual hero units, which were still not very common in RTS in 1998.

Three Kingdoms Divine Destiny was originally released for DOS, which wasn't really up to date anymore in the days of DirectX. The expansion corrected that flaw, though. Both the original game and Son'gwon-ui Yamang have been released in Taiwan, where the latter for some reason had its title on the box with a Japanese hiragana.

Quick Info:

Developer:

DS Game Channel

Publisher:

DS Game Channel

Genre:

Strategy (RTS)


Three Kingdoms Divine Destiny (Windows)

Three Kingdoms Divine Destiny (Windows)


삼국지 천명 II (Samgukji Cheonmyeong II) / Three Kingdoms II: Clash of Destiny - Windows (May 29, 2000)

Taiwanese Cover

As pretty much every Korean futuristic RTS after Starcraft, the sequel to DS' most successful first party game almost looks like a carbon coby to Blizzard's mega hit. In mimicking the big role model, the three factions are now vastly different, completely ignoring the first game and going crazy with the setting.

The Wei are the typical East Asian high culture. They not only train Elephants for battle, but also a number of Far Eastern mythical beasts. Their architecture is based on a limited number of base buildings, which can be renovated into various types. The Shu are most close to the first game, with futuristic buildings, tanks and cyborgs. Lastly, the Wu are a race of magicians, who summon their medieval western European style buildings instead of building them, and command a number of creatures seemingly borrowed from Dungeons & Dragons.

Three Kingdoms 2 is actually a rather fine game. It's just so shamelessly derivative. It's hard not to be bothered by the fact that it could essentially have been made as a mod to Starcraft (except for the polygonal 3D units).

Quick Info:

Developer:

DS Game Channel

Publisher:

DS Game Channel

Genre:

Strategy (RTS)


Three Kingdoms II (Windows)

Three Kingdoms II (Windows)


Unreleased Titles:

투캅스 (Two Cops) (1994)

블루시걸 (Blue Seagull) (1994)

삼국지천명 : 영웅의 길 / Three Kingdoms: The Code of Honour / 데스티니 온라인 Destiny Online / 카이온 사가 Kaion Saga (2001-2004)


References
1. Game Champ 8/1993, page 81
2. Game Channel 11/1994, page 37


Table of Contents

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