<table> <tr> <td class=headerlogo> <p class=image><a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent"><img alt="Logo by MP83" src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/logo/hg101logo.png"></a></p> </td> <td> <table class=headerright> <tr> <td class=headermenu> <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/alpha.htm" target="_parent">Articles</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/features.htm" target="_parent">Features</a> | <a href="http://blog.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent">Blog</a> | <a href="http://hg101.proboards.com/" target="_parent">Forums</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/about.htm" target="_parent">About</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hardcore-Gaming-101/109837535712670" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/facebook.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/HG_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/twitter.png"></a> </td> <td class=searchbox> <form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box" target="_parent"> <div> <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-0596905340593187:3048719537"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1"> <input type="text" name="q" size="30"> <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search"> </div> </form> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en"></script> </td> </tr> </table> <table class=headerad> <tr> <td> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "pub-0596905340593187"; /* HG101 */ google_ad_slot = "1388153503"; google_ad_width = 728; google_ad_height = 90; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> </script> </td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </table>

A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

Back to the Index


Korean Games for the World: Games by Koreans, but not (primarily) for Koreans

Even long before MMO giants like Nexon and NCSoft founded their overseas subsidiaries, bought American development teams and employed designers of lordly caliber (as Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa was funded by NCSoft), not all games made by Koreans were meant for Koreans. Here are some games Koreans made through Japanese outsourcing, employed at foreign companies, or specifically aimed at foreign markets. Many of these games never even made it officially to Korea.

Softmen and Return of Jelda (?)

Softmen could be the first Korean company to have fullfilled an outsourcing job for the Japanese, at least if their claim made in 1987 was true, and Carry Lab's Return of Jelda was really delivered by them. However, as a former bootleg company that has been known to fake the staff credits in the games it released, that might not be the most credible source. (The Econo File, September 25th, 1987, page 137)


Kim Hwan'gi at Leland

Before designing the Mega Drive games Uju Geobukseon and City Heroes for Samsung Electronics, Kim Hwan'gi learned his trade at the US arcade company Leland, making him a likely candidate for the first Korean game developer who learned his trade in the States. The only game his name is credited in is Brute Force (where he appears as Kim Hwan), but Leland also has a number of titles without staff credits.


Taff's Jeong Jaeyeong at SNK

Before founding Korea's number one developer of fishing simulations, Jeong Jaeyeong was jobbing aimlessly in Japan for several years, which led him to SNK. Here he saw the concepts for such classics as Samurai Shodown grow, and actively took part in the creation of the first Sengoku. He might have been hidden behind the alias "Moonmin", which would make him the co-director of the game. (PC Power Zine 8/1999, page 318)


Jang Sungmok and The Little Mermaid (Game Boy)

Jang Sungmok was not new to game development when he came to Japan; he was the creator of the MSX titles Tti Tti! Ppang Ppang! and Super Suwanggi (an unlicensed port to Altered Beast). Subcontracted to a company called Great, he programmed the Game Boy version of Disney's The Little Mermaid for Capcom. Back in Korea, he founded his own enterprise called Soft Media, planning to make more console games for the Japanese market, but if there were any, their connection to Soft Media has yet to be discovered. (IBM PC World in Game World 1/1995, page 57)


Lee Sanghun and GP Rider (Game Gear)

The next Korean to program a game at a Japanese company was Lee Sanghun, one of Korea's most prolific game programmers at the time, who's games had been published by Topia, Zemina and SIECO. He is not credited in the game, but he managed to smuggle his name into the code, and his initials on some signposts on the roadside.


Open and Bubble Bobble (Game Gear)

Open, the company the aforementioned Lee Sanghun worked for in Korea, also got a totally official outsourcing job by Taito. It needed a Game Gear port for its greatest arcade hit, and who could have been a better fit than Open's Jeong Chanyong and Jeong Chanil, who already had plenty of experience from making several Bubble Bobble clones for the MSX?


More possible outsourcing

Over the years, there had been more mentions of outsourcing to Korea, without any concrete titles revealed. NCS once announced a planned cooperation for Game Boy titles with a Korean company called Gametech (Game World 6/1991, page 54), and Softmax' Jeong Youngwon used to work at a company called K.B.M / Gabin Mulsan in 1993, which had supposedly worked on Sega 8-bit conversions. (Game World 10/1994, page 70)


Jong Yoon's Cinematix Studios

If Kim Hwan'gi was the first Korean employed by an American game company, Jong Yoon was the first Korean to employ people at an American game company. Actually named Yoon Jong-beum (or Yun Jongbeom by standard romanization), he shortened his name to make pronounciation easier after he came to the US in 1983 (then age 24) to study city planning, where he first came into contact with computers. After serving his time in the Korean army, he returned in 1986 and enrolled in computer studies at Arizona State University. Founded in 1993, his company's first game Total Mayhem was released in 1996, but Cinematix became more widely known by their second title, Revenant. Both games were eventually released in Korea with some delay. (PC Power Zine 1/2000, page 292-295)


Peter Ryu at 3DO

Having moved to the States at age 8, Korean-American Peter Ryu made the dream of every game tester a reality: Starting at New World Computing in the mid-'90s, he worked his way up the ladder until he became producer of such prominent titles as Might and Magic VII and VIII (the latter pictured right), Legends of Might and Magic and Acromage. Like Jong Yoon, he thus worked on titles that were not geared towards the Korean market in the first place, but eventually made their way there through localization. (PC Power Zine 2/2000, page 310-312)


PlayStation games in Japan: The Masters Fighter, TRL and Logic Pro

Between 1995 and 2002, developing for consoles usually meant developing for Japan. Most were variants of existing Korean games like Unico's Master's Fury (published as The Masters Fighter by Cinema Supply) or Amuse World's Logic Pro Adventure, published on March 1st, 2001 by Aqua Rouge. (There were also a number of planned ports that remained unreleased, like Battle Gear by Mirinae Software and Hanbit's Tahl.) But with Softmax' TRL: The Rail Loaders, Victor also published an original Korean game. Soft Action's president Nam Sangkyu later also produced the PS2 remake of Assault Suits Valken.


Super AirCombat outsourcing

Although hardly ever heard of in the West, SystemSoft's AirCombat is one of the longest-running flight simulation series in Japan. For at least two of the Windows-sequels SystemSoft called in Korean help. The programming for Super AirCombat II was outsourced to Digitower, who had previously ported Japanese home computer games like SystemSoft's own Tuned Heart to Windows. (PC Champ 7/1997, page 131) Super AirCombat III was programmed by KCT Media, known in Korea for their game adaptions of various popular kids TV shows.


Digital Dream Studio and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2000

A Tiger Woods Golf game might be one of the last things where one would expect Korean involvement. From April 1999 to June 2000, 6 Korean programmers and designers from Digital Dream Studios worked directly in the US, together with Rainbow Studios, on the PC Version.


WonderSwan games for Japan: RUN=DIM and Gransta Chronicle

For whatever reason the WonderSwan Color became a relatively popular platform for Korean developers as well, as demonstrated by Digital Dream Studios' adaption of their animated series RUN=DIM (the PS2 and Dreamcast games were made by Idea Factory), and Megatron's original RPG Gransta Chronicle. Although, the WonderSwan Color was officially distributed in Korea by Young Toys, neither title made it back to the homeland. Renamed to Amada Soft, Megatron also had a game called Gangcheol-ui Mabeopsa ("Magician of Steel") in the works for the Korean handheld GP32, but never completed it.


DelphiEye's Nitro Family

The main reason for Nitro Family to become an export-only title was probably the fact that the market for retail PC games in Korea was all but dead by the time of its release, but all the violence in the Serious Sam-like frantic FPS probably wouldn't have made the Game Rating Board happy, either.


CMNet's 3Feel

An MMO all about screwing is certainly something that wouldn't get past the Rating Board in Korea, or would it? After announcing their game only for foreign markets in 2005, they actually tried getting it through the Board in 2007, the fact that all promo screenshots with the Korean language interface show the characters fully clothed is quite telling. In the end, the game went online in China in 2008 with Korean IPs blocked, but the whole affair turned out very short-lived, anyway.


Grigon Entertainment and FusionFall

The full title is Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall, and it was Cartoon Network who was responsible for the game's scenario and concept. Grigon Entertainment took care of the graphics and programming. A release in Korea was planned for summer 2009, but since Grigon Entertainment folded at that time, FusionFall stayed in the West.


Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

Back to the Index