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A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

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두용실업 Dooyong

Founded:

1989

Status:

defunct (1996)

Key People:

:
President

Website:

none


Dooyoung was an early arcade game manufacturer and the first Korean developer that got a steady export line to the Japanese market, where their games would mostly be licensed to NTC. According to Sizzla Okamura, a former employee of NMK, the managers of the two companies had gotten to know each other through a meeting of video game industry associations from Japan and Korea1. Dooyong took pride in "reaching 16-bit performance with 8-bit machines"2. In 1994, however, the System Engineering Research Institute (SERI) reported that it was in the process of developing a 32-bit arcade racing game in cooperation with Dooyong3. It seems that never worked out, though, and Dooyong gave up business in 1996, in resignation to the advance of 3D graphics.

Aside from the games left below, Dooyong had registered two earlier titles with the Korean copyright office in 1989, Wheel Runner and Gala Mode4. Chances are they were bootlegs of Japanese games, as company president Jeong Jinuk had admitted about the questionable early days of the company5.


Games

얌얌 (Yam! Yam!?) / Wise Guy - Arcade (1990)

Dooyong were most famous for their shoot-'em-ups, but actually started out with this puzzle game featuring a cute racoon that has to throw crystals into floor sinks while avoiding the skulls. Fruits bring bonus points and the clocks extend the time limit. In between stages cartoon images with the racoons are shown.

It is unknown how the work between Dooyong and NMK on this game was shared: Arcade-History claims it was originally developed by Nihon Maicom Kaihatsu in Japan and just redesigned by Dooyong, stating the game's rom as a source, but a hex search through the ROM didn't bring up anything to support this6. There is, however, an almost identical Famicom game with different graphics by NMK called Ochin ni Toshi Puzzle Tonjan!. It remains to be clarified, though, if Yam! Yam!? was actually based off an unreleased arcade version by NMK or rather Dooyong's adaption of the Famicom game.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong?
NMK?

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Puzzle
Action: Single Screen




출격 (Chulgyeok) D-Day / The Last Day - Arcade (1990)

With The Last Day, Dooyong started to do what they did best. It is a rather of-the-shelve vertical shooter, with an upgradeable weapon, smart bombs, and the regular level structure, but it is as solid as they get.

While everything else is good standard fare at best, the game really shines through its background graphics. The amount of detail the designers put into the tiles is amazing, and the sceneries for once look like real places. Often they're modeled after those, even if some monuments seem a bit misplaced. Windmills, the Eiffel Tower and Korean palaces—where exactly is this war supposed to take place?

This game was also part of the cooperation between Dooyong and NMK, although the Japanese company did just some slight "brushing up," according to Sizzla Okamura7.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Director:

J. S. Hong

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical




건딜러 (Gun Dealer) - Arcade (1990)

Japanese Flyer

A puzzle game/poker hybrid. Cards can simply be stacked up to three in the same color, but that only gives 10 points per row. It is much more effective to go for straights, triples or full house combinations. All the while it's necessary to take care of the remaining stack, as the following 3 cards can be swapped through, and the total amount of cards is limited. For every card left over at the end there's a brutal penalty, and should the score sink below zero, it's game over.

Two versions of Gun Dealer were produced, an adult version as well as one for all-ages arcades. The adult game features nudies, the "kids" version manga girls with big guns. Those are of overall better quality than the adult art, and given the theme of the game, they're probably the original ones. But that's not the only change, the cards sets in both versions differ as well, and the all ages-version is much easier.

The adult version was also released in Japan by Tecmo. That release features completely different music from the other two.

Like Yam! Yam!? and The Last Day, Gun Dealer was apparently created in cooperation with NMK. Also, a company called Axes claims to have been responsible for 100% of the code and the sound for a game with the title Gun Dealer (probably still in form of their predecessor Hect Development Division 1, as the company itself was founded only in 1992)8.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong?
NMK?
Hect?

Publisher:

Dooyong (Korea)
Tecmo (Japan)

Genre:

Puzzle


Gun Dealer (Arcade, adult version)



걸프스텀 (Gulf Storm) - Arcade (1991)

A politically somewhat explosive theme at the time, the player in Gulf Storm assumes the role of a military officer on the hunt for the worst Saddam Hussein double ever. On that mission, he doesn't settle with a simple plane, but switches between a speedboat, a helicopter and a motorcycle, all the while wondering where the Iraqi found all those biplanes in 1991.

The game offers all the standard fare once again, all vehicles are controlled exactly the same way and use the same weaponry. Even the art is nothing special this time. Still not a bad game, but somewhat boring.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical




플록스 (Pollux) - Arcade (1991)

At first glance, Pollux looks like more of the same, but alternating weapon sytems and several other interesting power ups give it a lot more variety compared to its predecessor. Especially useful are the temporary bullet magnet and autofire upgrade, which reliefs the trigger finger from a lot of stress. Enemy patterns are much more interesting, as well, although the stages can still get a bit long. The bosses consist of several destructible parts, and blasting those off even makes them less of a threat for the reminder of the fight.

Other than Dooyong's previous shooters, Pollux takes place in a science fiction setting, or more precisely in a science fiction movie, as the story about a renegade super computer is shown in a virtual theatre (in Engrish). The overall presentation has been taken up a notch, sprites are bigger now, and this is probably the kind of game president Jeong Jinuk meant when talking about 16-bit performance with 8-bit machines.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong (Korea)
Atlus (Japan)
NTC (Japan)

Director:

Jooshun Hong
Youchur No
Choonduk Kim

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical


Pollux (Arcade)



Flying Tiger / 비호대 (Bihodae) - Arcade (1992)

This time it's really more of the same. Luckily, more of the same stuff that made Pollux great. Power ups are a bit underdeveloped in comparison, but this lack is compensated for with epic boss battles. Some enemy patterns strangely resemble the classic Space Invaders

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical




블루호크 (Blue Hawk) - Arcade (1993)

Blue Hawk is basically a return to the strange modern/historic melange setting from The Last Day and Gulf Storm, but with all the improvements first introduced (as far as Dooyong games go) in Pollux.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong (Korea)
NTC (Japan)

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical




사다리 (Sadari) - Arcade (1993)

Sadari ("Ladder") spices up the typical colored block matching puzzle concept by combining it with the ladder game, where one connects lines and then choses a starting point to see where one ends up. The colored blocks are falling down that "ladder" to their predetermined destination, so the player has to be fast and catch them with the cursor to release them where it seems fit. Three blocks of the same color lined up in a row (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) disappear. The game grows hectic quite fast, and only players with the best reflexes will be able to make it very far.

Like so many coin-op puzzle games in East Asia, Sadari features images of semi-nude women in between stages. Other than with Gun Dealer, a non-sexy version is not known to exist.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Puzzle




건딜러 95 (Gun Dealer 94) / Primella - Arcade (1994)

This upgrade to one of Dooyongs early games brings first and foremost one important addition: Competetive gameplay. Playing good hands now throws more cards at the opponent's field, disturbing their plans. As the deck is always limited, with remaining cards substracting from the score, matches are quick and intense.

Once again an "adult" game, Gun Dealer 94 lazily uses the same artwork as Sadari. New is the picture of an "ugly" woman displayed to mock the player each time the computer wins. In Japan, the game was known as Primella and published by NTC this time, like all of Dooyongs games after the first Gun Dealer.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong (Korea)
NTC (Japan)

Genre:

Puzzle




알샥 (R-Shark) - Arcade (1995)

R-Shark wasn't Dooyong's last game, but given that all that was following were insignificant puzzlers, it nonetheless can be considered the company's swansong in a way. Neverending sprite fireworks, exciting stage design, balanced weapons, intimidating bosses and a soundtrack able to move shmup veterans to tears— every aspect of R-Shark is nothing short of breathtaking, and the game can be put in a line with genre highlights like Dodonpachi with no regrets.

At the beginning the player in the role of a headhunter gets to chose to go after one of 8 interstellar criminals, afterwards the following order is decided by the game. The ship is first armed with a rather weak main gun, which is supported by homing missiles, though. Alternatives picked up on the way are a mighty laser gun and a rocket launcher, all upgradeable. In addition stands an individual super attack for each weapon, that attaches a huge-ass mega gun to the ship when used and replaces the genre standard smart bombs. But despite those screen filling weapons of mass destruction, R-Shark remains just as hard as the next shmup. While not a bullet hell shooter proper, it borders on that territory quite often, especially with the boss fights. The game remains fair at any time, though, and upgrades are in very generous distribution.

Of all the games of this particularly export-strong developer, R-Shark was the first one that stayed exclusively in Korea. Even now, in the days of emulation, the game is either ignored or shunned by the shmup fandom for the most part. It could be argued that it lacked any notable innovations, but to be honest, how many famous 2D shmups do, and are loved for exactly that reason? Some important employees had left the company in 1995 to establish Afega as Dooyong's successor for all intents and purposes.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical




크로스포인트 (Cross Point) - Arcade (1995)

A by-the-books falling blocks puzzler with colored bubbles. The backgrounds show paintings of famous artists like Millet or Gauguin.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Puzzle




스노우팝 (Snow Pop) - Arcade (1996)

...and yet one more. This time with snowballs and no famous paintings.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Puzzle




도전! 면허 (Dojeon Myeonheo) / Championship - Arcade (1996)

In this game, the players chose between three vehicles (a plane, a car and a boat), and then have to maneuver them according to the orders from the game.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Racing




Pop Bingo - Arcade (1996)

And another game that combines standard puzzle mechanics with an unrelated game, this time Snow Pop is expanded upon with a Bingo element. Now some of the snowballs have letters written on them that are used to clear a bingo chart. The player who first completes a line on the chart wins. In between stages waits a bonus round, featuring nude photographs. Feels kinda awkward in combination with the overall cutesy style of the game.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Dooyong

Publisher:

Dooyong

Genre:

Puzzle




References
1. Sizzla Okamura on Twitter
2. Stated by former president Jeong Jinuk in an Interview in Game Journal 9/2003.
3. ET News 23/6/1994
4. Korean Copyright Commission filings for Wheel Runner and Gala Mode
5. Interview with Jeong Jinuk in Game Journal 9/2003
6. Arcade-History
7. Sizzla Okamura on Twitter
8. Axes Homepage. Thanks to CRV of gdri for additional research regarding the Dooyong/NMK connection.


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