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A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

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별바람 크리처 Byulbram Creature

Founded:

1991

Status:

active

Key People:

김광삼 Kim Gwangsam:
Byulbram

Website:

www.byulbram.com (offline)
blog.naver.com/byulbram


Byulbram isn't a company per se, but actually the screen name of Kim Gwangsam, who started in 1991 as a sole homebrew programmer and created some of the very first Korean fighting games. With Geunyeo-ui Gisadan (Her Knights), he made the jump to retail game developer in 2000. After that he was mainly focused on handheld and mobile games.

Kim Gwangsam continues to actively support independent game development. He functions as chairman of the "Korea Game Developers Association" and he is also teaching game development at ChungKang College of Cultural Industries.


Games

호랑이의 분노 (Horangi-ui Bunno) - IBM PC (1991)

First made public as a work-in-progress version in 1991, Horangi-ui Bunno was the first Korean fighting game, and the only one developed in the country before the impact of Street Figther II. For that reason, the series plays quite differently from the fighting game mainstream. There is next to no information available about the first game, though.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram

Publisher:

independent

Genre:

Fighting



호랑이의 분노2: 피, 돈, 그리고 눈물 (Horangi-ui Bunno 2: Pi, Don, Geurigo Nunmul) / Rage of Tiger 2: Blood, Money and Tears - IBM PC (1994)

This sequel was first uploaded in 1993 as a preview version, the final followed one year later. Nonetheless, Byulbram refused to follow the genre trend and once again delivered a game vastly different from Street Fighter & co. The other than the directional keys the game uses six attack keys, but each button correspondents to a fixed move, with no room for special commands. The game actually feels more like a 3D fighter, but it isn't very playable from a modern perspective and works rather on memorization of attack patterns rather than reactions.

1993/94 was a bit late for monochrome graphics, but it almost appears like a style choice rather than a technical incapability, as the life bars (that also don't work quite like they do in other fighters) are in fact colored.

Horangi-ui Bunno 2 features nine characters, but only the three "heroes" of the story are available from the beginning. All the others are unlocked after beating them in story mode.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram

Publisher:

independent

Genre:

Fighting




푸른매 (Pureun Mae) - IBM PC (1995)

Pureun Mae is the first Byulbram game not developed by Kim Gwangsam alone. He nonetheless played a very pivotal role in the process, not only directing the game, but also responsible for the concept, graphics and music.

Its concept might be one of the most unconventional among Korean developed games. The most fitting description would be "squadron based 360 degree 2D shooter". On a limited stretch of sky, one engages into dogfights with hostile planes. One isn't facing the task alone, however, but takes the role of Wing Commander. Before every mission, a group of pilots is selected, and aid the player either in formation or in free flight. The view is close to the plane, so orientation has to be based solely on the radar. The game takes quite a while getting used to for this reason.

One highlight of the game is definitely its soundtrack. It is available for download at Byulbram's personal blog.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram

Publisher:

inependent

Genre:

Shooting




그녀의 기사단 (Geunyeo-ui Gisadan) / Her Knights - Windows (June 12, 2000)

그녀의 기사단 (Geunyeo-ui Gisadan): Gloria in Excelsis Deo - Windows (March 11, 2005)

Her Knights was Byulbram's first commercially published game and should lay the foundation for his most popular series. The SRPG tells the beginning of Princess Lemian's saga. She starts walking around at the foreign school she spent her youth at. This place works as kind of a tutorial, were the basics of the game and some introductory lessons about the game world can be asked from the teachers. On the continent, however, war has broken out on the continent, and so a group of personal lifeguards, Her Knights, arrive just in time before she gets kidnapped by hired brigands and to escort her to her home country. So the long and dangerous journey begins.

Like in any other RPG, a lot of time is spent walking around towns and villages and interacting with the people there. The story in Her Knights puts particularly much weight on romance and personal relations, even though the underlying plot around the war and a mysterious evil wizard feels rather menacing. There are even elements that border on dating sim territory, so the princess can enhance reactions of certain characters with the use of several accesories.

Still a lot of time is spent in turn based battles, which offer a lot of tactical depth. Each of the knights (the princess, though she is the main character in field and town modes, doesn't take part in the fighting herself) has a big selection of special moves and combos. The player also has to take care of their defensive behaviour, formations and even the direction they're facing to after their moves. The game is tough, and a battle can be lost quickly with only a slight mistake. The game is rather forgiving, though, as every battle can be tried again immediately afterwards, optionally with the difficulty lowered.

The void between settlements and encounters is filled by a travel mode on the world map, which can be very annoying. All the knights constanlty lose life energy with every step, and after a short while they start griping for a rest, even if they only lost like 1/10 of their HP.

Looking at the art of Her Knights, it is hard to believe that the game has been made by so few people (whith Byulbram doing the vast majority of work). The pixe art looks gorgeous, and the character illustrations aren't too shabby either.

Her Knights has quite a history behind it. A first prototype became available for free in 1997. This version was very limited though, with only one town to visit, and an endless row of enemy encounters, one each time when the town was left. There was also not much of a story progression, and this has to be seen as more of a preview rather than a full game. That followed in 2000, when Her Knights was first commercially published with the long subtitle Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. In 2005 followed yet one more release, now dubbed Gloria in excelsis deo, which added partially voiced dialogue, a new remixed soundtrack and redrawn, more professionally looking character portraits. A few new events were also added, and a bonus CD containing an interview with Byulbram and the 1997 freeware version. The collectors edition even contained all versions of the game, two additional booklets and a map on a mousepad.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byeol-gwa Sonyeo Team

Designer:

Kim Gwangsam
Choe Yeonggi

Publisher:

Animedia (2000)
Synogram (2005)

Genre:

RPG


Her Knights (Windows)

Her Knights (Windows)

Her Knights (Windows)

Her Knights: Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Windows)



다이나모 비스트 (Dynamo Beast) - Windows (2001)

On his own once again, Byulbram created this online-based mecha battle simulation.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram

Publisher:

independent

Genre:

Action




그녀의 기사단: 강행 돌파 (Geunyeo-ui Gisadan: Ganghaeng Dolpa) / Her Knights: All for the Princess - GP32 (April 19, 2002), GP2X (2008)


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The second game in the Her Knights series was one of the few commercial games released for the GP32. Instead of another RPG, this one takes the form of a belt scrolling brawler. The princess is scheduled for a marriage, but apparently she doesn't like the guy, so she calls her knights to slaughter hundreds of soldiers and escape with her from the wedding.

The combo system inherits a bit of the unconventional, almost weird feeling of Byulbram's fighting games. There are only two attack buttons, a fast and a strong one, but with directional button presses a lot of different moves can be executed, making for a comparatively complex fighting system. The knights — five of them are playable — can also block and evade enemy attacks. Turning around is also mapped to a button, just pressing backwards results in strafing. When hit, one turns toward the source automatically, though, which offers an easy opportunity for enemies to gang up on the player.

Most enemies drop healing items or stat boosts upon defeat, so most of the time one takes on the next group fully restored. That doesn't mean the game is easy, though, as the life bar is depleted just as fast as it is recharged. After a handful of very short stages, the game is already over, leaving only the higher difficulty levels for replay value.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram

Publisher:

Gamepark

Genre:

Beat-'em-Up


Her Knights: All for the Princess (GP32)

Her Knights: All for the Princess (GP32)



그녀의 기사단: 키리에 엘레이존 (Geunyeo-ui Gisadan: Kyrie Eleison) / Her Knights: Kyrie Eleison - Mobile (January 3, 2008)

Artwork

After concentrating on his many other tasks for a while (see above), Byulbram returned with another Her Knights game in 2007. Mobile phones were the platform of choice for this RPG developed with students at ChungKang.

In early 2009, Byulbram named two more games to be developed by the ChungKang game studio. Project Handsome was only mentioned by its working title, while he described Marchen Moheomga Club as an action RPG featuring a gunslinger heroine. Given that Kyrie Eleison was discontinued after the first of seven planned episodes1, those projects seem to be no more than vaporware for now.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram

Genre:

Action RPG


Her Knights: Kyrie Eleison (Mobile)

Her Knights: Kyrie Eleison (Mobile)



혈십자 FC (Hyeolsipja FC) / Asura Cross - Caanoo (December 30, 2010), iOS (November 20, 2012), Android (January 22, 2013)

The development history of Hyeolsipja is ridiculously long. Byulbaram even used to call it his cursed game2. Work on the game was started in 2002, immediately after Her Knights: All for the Princess was finished (though the planning stages reach back to 1993, when Byulbram first conceived a possible Horangi-ui Bunno 3). The game's major platform was to be the GP32, with ports for the PC and arcades developed simultaneously.

A demo version was shown at the Games Convention 2003 in Leipzig, Germany, but by the end of the year, the demise of the GP32 brought the first difficulties of the game. The arcade market wasn't in much better shape, and the company responsible for that version went bancrupt. Left was the PC version, but Byulbram had already abandoned hope to find a publishing deal and applied for his teaching position at ChungKang when he received a contract from a publisher, which made him unable to engage in a full project at that time. During the next few years followed plans for the gaming phone NHN and the GP2X F200, and in 2009 the project finally seemed to near completion as a GP2X Wiz game, developed in cooperation with the Gamepark Holdings 2nd (and soon-to-become-1st) party team Dogma-G.

Several delays later, the game was shown for the new model GP2X Caanoo at E3 2010, and made use of its Wi-Fi capabilities for multi play. In GPH's usual customer-unfriendly manner, there is no further mention of a Wiz version. This version was distributed solely via the download portal FunGP, which since went offline, but a few years later the game reappeared on iOS and Android smart phones, expanded by a few new features. The game itself is free to play, instead upgrades for the characters are used to monetize. (iOS version screenshots taken from 148Apps.)

Quick Info:

Developer:

Byulbram
Dogma-G

Publisher:

GPH (Caanoo)
Gamevil (Smartphones)

Genre:

Fighting


Bloody Cross 2006 preview (Windows)

Asura Cross (iOS)



References
1. Byulbram blog
2. Byulbram blog


Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

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