A History of Korean Gaming
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열림 기획 Open Production
94 슈퍼 월드 컵 축구 ('94 Super World Cup Chukku) - Master System (July 1, 1994)
Korean sports games outside of the arcades used to be a rare breed, and '94 Super World Cup Chukku (chukku means soccer) is one of the only two examples for a home console.
According to the company history quoted above, '94 Super World Cup Chukku has been developed from the get go in cooperation with Innovation, but was ultimately only released in Korea.
장풍 3 (Jang Pung 3) - Master System, Mega Drive (October 1994)
The sequel to the above trainwreck Street Fighter II clone, Jang Pung 3 brings the series from one of the worst 8-bit fighting games to one of the best in less than a year— quite an accomplishment for the young programmer and director Lee Sanghun. While Jang Pung II was no more than a pirate version of Street Fighter II, this game features an all-original cast of stately 12 characters. It also features one of the greatest fighting game stories ever told, about the global threat of a neo nazi cyborg and the world's strongest fighters, which gather to stop its evil doings.
The controls are astonishingly responsive for an 8-bit fighter, and while the characters' movelists are limited through the Master System's 2-button pad, every combatant has his or her selection of trademark special moves. The lack of grappling maneuvers is a bummer, though. Many characters are stock fighting game material, most interesting are the overweight couple Bruno and Mrs.Bruno, as well as the nazi cyborg. A few come from places usually not seen in a fighting game, like Budapest (Hungary) or Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Director and Programmer Lee Sanghun also kinda self-inserted himself with the Korean character Sanghun.
But Jang Pung 3 is impressive also from a technical standpoint. Everything runs as smooth as it gets, some animations are just stunning and each of the twelve characters has his own stage and skillfully arranged music, at least for the most. Only very few tunes sound like the sound chip in one's console is broken. Had this game been released at the height of the Master System, it could have caused quite a commotion. In 1994, however, with the 32-bit generation knocking on the door, it completely went under. Maybe they should have licensed it to TecToy, then this might have had become popular in Brazil.
三国志 III: 천하쟁패 (Samgukji III: Cheonha Jaengpae) - Master System, Mega Drive (1994)
Samgukji 3 is a port of Panda Software's famous Sango Fighter, although it is unknown whether or not it had the blessing of the Taiwanese company. Only seven of the playable characters made it onto the 8 megabit cart, which is puzzling after Jang Pung 3 managed to squeeze 12 into the same size, but the Korean version is actually much more playable than its big brother from the PC. The fighting engine is basically the same as in Jang Pung 3.
Bubble Bobble - Game Gear (1994)
When Taito decided to release their most famous game for the Game Gear, they outsourced the programming to Open. Maybe they got wind that the Jung brothers, formerly of team MbitM and venusprojecterienced in porting Bubble Bobble to MSX twice, were with the Korean company. At any rate, both were involved with the development of this port.
YS는 잘 맞춰 (YS-neun jal Matchwo) / Hello Mr. President - IBM PC (December 14, 1994)
In 1995, Open gave up the home consoles and started developing for the PC, following a trend that was already dominating the industry at that time. Hello Mr. President throws several contemporary (and some outdated) heads of states from all around the world into the ring, kinda like a re-imagening of Domark's Spitting Image, only much less evil-spirited. But this is no pure fighting game, the main play mode also involves a board game with various quiz and mini games, and the success or failure here determines the initial amount of health for the fight (but the fighter can be played without the board game part, too).
Most presidents (YS was a common abbreviation for Korea's president from 1993 to 1998, Kim Youngsam) are put ino generic fighting costumes, but there's also some odd ones, like Boris Yelzin in the Street Fighter II dictator outfit. Like in so many other 90s PC fighting games, the controls are nothing short of atrocious, rendering the game virtually unplayable.
블럭환타지 (Block Fantasy) - IBM PC (October 1995)
This puzzler was the only one of the former Namu projects that saw a release, although the box only contains the names of publishers YoungCom and Bogo World, the copyright for the game was still registered by Open in September 19958.
달려라 피구왕 (Dallyeora Piguwang) - Master System, Mega Drive (1995)
Inspired by the anime and 1992 Mega Drive game Honoo no Toukyuuji Dodge Danpei. It is of course not as polished as the 16-bit rendition, but quite playable, although a bit slow-paced. For strong attack shots, anime sequences are spliced into the action, which disturb orientation a bit.
EXP: The Excellent Potato - IBM PC (1996)
With veteran designer Lee Sanghun directing, Open tried their first RPG. EXP was originally conceived for the Mega Drive, but Open soon also announced a PC port, followed by the cancellation of the Mega Drive version.
The game takes place in the future world of 2765. Earth has been damaged by the constant pollution, and mankind seeks to migrate to new worlds. They hire mechanic species of the Destragon, who lack a homeworld themselves, to make a new planet inhabitable for human life, while promising them their own land as a reward. However, the Destragon betray their former employers, and war among the Destragon and the human Mathik breaks out, leading to the occupation of earth. But not enough, also the Hydra, descendants of the humans lost in the failed colonization project, appear on the scene, so the known space is split up among three factions who are constantly at war with each other. And yes, also the eponymous Potato fits into the whole mess.
The hero Nix crashes with his plane in the territory of the currently neutral Hydra, so he has to find a way to repair his ship and return to earth. Of course, that turns out easier said than done...
Despite the inventive story, the gameplay is pretty much standard (J)RPG fare with the all to familiar menu based combat. There are no random encounters, though, all enemies are visible on the world map. Avoiding the very mobile enemies is not an easy task, though.
The battles surprise with a lot of interesting visual effects, but pay for this with a very slow pace. The graphics on the field look very unique, as well, with their strange not-quite-SD style. Even the scrolling is weird, but it feels very natural for some reason.
EXP, like almost all other Korean RPGs, has never been localized. However, it is the most playable for people not able to understand Korean, as all menus and item names are written in English. Only the story remains hidden in that case, and of course the hints as to what to do next. But the game suffers a bit from lack of direction, anyway, at least from a spoiled modern RPG gamer's perspective.
비너스프로젝트 Venus Project - IBM PC (October 1997)
Open's last game was an adventure / dating simulation, a thriller revolving around the issue of DNA technology and cloning.
The graphics consist of a mix between pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and hand drawn characters, which look very out of place. The game was originally supposed to contain some mild nude scenes, but those were removed prior to release9.
레드위즈 (Red Wiz) (1992)
깨비 꼬비 (Kaby Koby) (1993-1994)
EXP: The Excellent Potato Mega Drive version (1995-1996)
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