A History of Korean Gaming
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FEW (Future Entertainment World 퓨처엔터테인먼트월드)
夜話 2 (야화 2 / Yahwa 2) - Windows (February 1998)
Yahwa 2 is more of a straight brawler than its predecessor. Although it has a JRPG-type level up system, the game dropped the simulation part entirely. The controls are rather peculiar for the genre - like in a fighting game, there are three buttons each for punches and kicks of varying strength, but the system still works with automatic combos if just one button is being pressed continuously. Characters can leap away from the action when knocked down, avoiding the endless punishment typical for the genre whenever the player is surrounded by enemies.
There are two playable characters - the legendary Kim Duhan and his rival/friend Sirasoni - yet the game does not feature a two player mode. Instead, each character has his own story and locations to fight through. Occasionally, the chosen protagonist even gets a CPU companion at his side.
Tokyo 夜話 2 (토쿄야화 2 / Tokyo Yahwa 2) - Windows (April 3, 1998)
FEW's brawler/RPG mix got a sequel as well. Once again FEW's incapability to create sympathetic protagonists becomes the otherwise solid game's biggest problems. Was the player forced into the role of a douche in Booking Man, here the hero is just a complete moron: He let's himself getting beat up for all of the much too long introduction because he promised his equally unlikable girlfriend not to get into fights anymore, and just continues to take beatings even after she dumps him, anyway.
The controls are explained by a huge gorilla who just happens to cross his way when the main game finally begins.
브리트라 (Britra) - Windows (June 1998)
Britra falls into the Diablo inspired action RPG category, although combat is more player skill/timing based and it has a stronger emphasis on dialogue with the hero's mutant friend who follows him around constantly, but is non-existent during combat.
The game has its strengths, but the difficulty totally spoils it. The odds against the player are just utterly ridiculous and make Britra possibly the hardest action RPG ever.
Quo Vadis: A Coldblooded Demon (쿼바디스) - Windows (August 1998)
Quo Vadis seems to fill a similar mold as Britra, but like Bloody Aria, it doesn't run at all on most modern systems7.
고인돌 (Goindol) - Windows (November 1998)
A rather peculiar title in FEW's late catalog, the prehistoric platformer Goindol (only about the third or fourth Korean game to carry that exact same title, not including the Prehistoric Man series, which is also known as such in Korea) uses sketchy hand-drawn 2D art instead of the usual render fare. It clearly mimics the PC Engine Bonk series, as the protaginist's standard attack is bouncing his head against enemies, although it seems to be based on a licensed property.
This game should be an easy, casual kiddie platformer, but in reality it is extremely hard. Part of the reason are the unfair hit detection and bad feedback, but much worse is the fact that the player only has a single life to clear the entire game. The game asks if the player wants to continue, but it always starts from the beginning nonetheless. Sometimes the extended life meter from collecting a hundred stone coins carries over, but that is inconsistent, so it seems to be a bug more than anything.
There are two playable characters to chose from, but they play exactly the same. Sometimes during a stage, a mini game might be triggered arbitrarily. Those range from boring "collect all the fruits in a confined room within the time limit" to insanity where the hero sits in a rock basket and has a feces flinging competition with a troll.
각시탈 (Gaksital) - Windows (February 1999)
Gaksital is the adaption of a 1970s comic book series by Huh Youngman. Both are set in times of Japanese colonial rule, where a mysterious avenger—called Gaksital after the tradional mask he's wearing—gives the foreign occupiers a hard time by sabotaging their operations.
In the game the protagonist isn't the original Gaksital, though, but the young Yi Gangto, who like his father is a collaborateur with the Japanese and frequently does errands for the local garrison, which earns him quite a few enemies in his rural village. This ends, however, when his girlfriend is abducted by the new garrison leader Kimura, and Gangto storms the Japanese residence, fights his way through to the kidnapper, who he finds already in a fight with the legendary Gaksital. In the confrontation, both the Kimura and Gaksital get killed, and Gangto finds himself pushed to pick up the mask and continue his legacy.
Large chunks of the game are played strictly as an (oriental style) Adventure, where one mostly walks around talking to the right people in the right order, doing errands and the like. Only occasionally the game switches to—usually lengthy—combat scenes. Enemies are fought in real-time, practically like a brawler in isometric perspective. The awkward controls and especially the hit detection make this harder than it should be, although Gangto can purchase guns and melee weapons to change the stakes in his favor.
Even though Gaksital also features the FEW-typical rendered graphics, here its artificial charme makes it look a bit more artistic than in the company's previous efforts.
버스터즈 (Busters) - Windows (August 1999)
Busters is a 3D brawler similar to Fighting Force. As one of four tough brawlers, the player infiltrates a large mall / office building occupied by a gang in order to disarm bombs and rescue a kidnapped boy.
It is FEW's first fully real time 3D game, but it uses a very rigid and not very functional system of panning camera angles. The tank controls are also rather troubled, and moves often do not connect very well.
드래곤로드 (Dragon Lord) - Windows (August 1999)
Developed in the final days of FEW before the company merged with HiCom into eSofnet, it is not quite sure whether Dragon Lord was ever published. There are later sources that suggest it was released8, but no solid proof of a copy has shown up anywhere. The few known screenshots have a atmosphere similar to a Castlevania games, but the enemies shown are all dragons and dragon-like creatures.
장군 2 (Janggun 2) (1997)
흑기사 (Heukgisa) / Black Knight (1997)
천상천제전 (Cheonsang Cheonje-jeon) (1998)
사자의 서 (Saja-ui Seo) (1999)
7. Screenshots taken from http://blog.naver.com/hjl7491?Redirect=Log&logNo=60020304642
8. For example, both Busters and Dragon Lord are listed in the retrospective of Korean game releases in PC Power Zine 8/2001, page 350
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