Korean Retro Gaming Thread

Korean retro games have always been mysterious to me. There are so many games that we don‘t have any record of.

I’m not talking just about the GAMBOY or Super Aladdin, or any localizations of Japanese or western games, I‘m talking about home grown Korean design from the 80’s, 90‘s, early 00’s.

This type of information is only now beginning to trickle into our english-speaking web.

This twitter thread about a 1994 Korean MSDOS ARPG Platformer resembling Popful Mail, Lychnis, is what inspired me to make this thread. I love stuff like this, mainly because I was fascinated by Maple Story ever since I joined the open beta in 2005. If you haven't seen it, check out a write-up I put some effort into; Adventure Island Online: Maple Story is Secretly Wonder Boy in Monster World


Also, something I've noticed is that Matt Bozon is credited on Wikipedia as "artist" for a game called Ping Pals, which I have mentioned often how the art mysteriously resembles Maple Story's character graphics, and nothing like Matt Bozon's art style at all. Was it stolen, uncredited, or is wikipedia just incorrect? We may never know, because _absolutely no one besides me_ cares about Ping Pals.

Ping Pals was a “we want a DS dev kit and this is how we're going to get it” project developed in a few months by WayForward, and I‘m quite certain the aesthetic was dictated by the publisher and isn’t indicative of any direct connection between the two games in terms of personnel.

There's definitely a direct line of influence between the Monster World series and pretty much every Korean side-view action-RPG, from the '90s onwards—Wonder Boy in Monster Land, the second arcade game, was extremely popular and very widely bootlegged with a hacked Korean translation, and it's a game that's often cited as a favourite by KR devs of a certain generation, so your inference was completely on-point.


I was definitely digressing about ping pals in the OP, but here‘s an example.

I don’t have a complete sprite rip of either game handy to point out a true 1:1 copy, but the pixel shading technique, shapes, layering of facial elements, hair shading, skin tone, are nearly identical on maplestory characters and NPCs from that era as they are the player avatars from Ping Pals.

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Maplestory‘s original korean launch date was 2003, so it’s contemporary with Ping Pals, I'd still put my money on it being the same artist from Ping Pals.

So insert credit, and later Gamasutra, was the primary destination for a lot of this information because a certain person was interested in it - I don‘t have the present brain space to get into all of it but here’s what I‘d like to talk about if anyone wants to take up the baton after I list them. I’ll try to come back in and add info later:

Antman 2 - namil soft - this was directed by Hakkyu Kim, later of Ragnarok fame, and is something of a gunstar-like for PC in 1997. he doesn't even have a copy, just a box that his mom found at a flea market.

Lars the Wanderer - a side scrolling action RPG also from HKK, published by gravity pre-ragnarok.

Corum series - offline RPG diablo-like that was really good. I played Corum 3 a lot.

Astonishia Story - pretty well known compared to many. An RPG with great lush animation from sonnori, which got ported from DOS to GP32, then to PSP. Crimson Gem Saga is the pseudo sequel, also on PSP.

Her Knights - a small series from Byulbram, starting with an RPG on PC, then a beat-em-up on GP32. Pretty well regarded all around.

Asura Cross - an interesting fighting game also from Byulbram with a unique approach to movement and special attacks.

Dynamo Beast - another byulbram creation, this time a multiplayer tank thing that has a very Kokuga-like feel in its deliberateness.

Kimchiman - not great, but it's a platformer starring a kimchi superhero. had both boxed PC and GP32 versions (I have a sealed PC version for some reason)

Tomak - the first game was a visual novel starring a head in a pot - a princess/goddess who wanted to save the world by proving that love could exist even if she didn't have a body. PC, then ported to PS2. Then after that came Tomak save the earth, which is a GP32 shooter.

White Day - honestly the remake really focused how not-great the game is now, but back in the day it was a somewhat unique approach to survival horror on PC.

Manic Game Girl - a rent-a-hero-like that's not very good but is all about a heroine with a game boy who goes around doing good deeds and grinding for exp. The only(?) Korea-only PS1 game.

Psyvariar - stg series originally made in Korea, though now taken over by the publisher, success. Or was only the second Psyvariar done in Korea? I can't remember now. Either way, I did a meeting with Sony for them when their translator couldn't come, they spoke to me in japanese, their second language, which I then translated into english. It was ridiculous because sometimes they'd slip back into korean and I'd be like guys, you're speaking korean again.

At this point I feel like Audition, DJ Max, and Pump it Up are retro games too, but that feels a bit weird to say.

Anyway - there's a lot that's not so good in the korean retro game scene, but there's some real gems in there that are worth unearthing, many more than I know about I'm sure. But so few people, even in Korea, pay attention to the pre-F2P era that it's hard to find information.

Ah yeah, I have an IRL friends group that has several people who worked for the DJ Max company.

@“treefroggy”#p61904 FWIW I asked someone in the know about this and they said the publisher did license a bunch of graphics from Nexon and told the devs to use and/or alter it as time permitted, so yeah, it goes beyond imitation.

Looking at again now, there's a lot of stuff that's obviously converted from stock photos, too, which isn't surprising.


@“exodus”#p61908 Psyvariar - stg series originally made in Korea, though now taken over by the publisher, success. Or was only the second Psyvariar done in Korea? I can’t remember now.

You're thinking of Skonec, right? They made the second one, Success made the original.

@“gsk”#p61914 Yes, that's right!! Skonec also did a couple arcade games for Sega.

It‘s a fascinating section of gaming history, isn’t it? I‘ve written about Arcturus and The Rhapsody of Zephyr, which is a pretty shameful showing considering how many I’ve got sitting here…

Anyway! Wonderful stuff, and it's lovely to see a topic on it :smiley:

<3 Skonec. Psyvariar 2 and Homura are both great.

Edit: not sure why this tweet isn't showing. It's still live.


Ah nice, didn‘t know if my thread had made it here or not. I’m always on the lookout for more cool Korean and Chinese DOS/Windows games to cover, even the dime-a-dozen family platformers and -Craft clone RTSes.

Her Knights, Corum, Arcturus, and Astonishia Story are definitely on my Korean xRPGs list, but so is the whole damn War of Genesis series! It's funny how much Rhapsody of Zephyr, the series' main spinoff, ended up overshadowing it outside of Korea, but WoG topped charts right from the start and had a profound influence on devs like Sonnori (Arcturus) and Garam & Baram (Seal, Leithian). I wish there was still a reasonable official way to access/acquire these games, but nearly all have fallen into abandonware hole for all that's worth.

Tons of edutainment and interesting licensed titles to consider, too, like Family Pro's ill-fated Lazenca. And amazing one-offs like Deicide 3, Eol!, and Astrocounter of Crescents. The pre-MMO era really had a lot of variety and underrated genre stunners, albeit mixed in with a lot of very rushed/crunched disappointments & disasters.

There‘s more info of this stuff online than ever before,


I’m really hoping one day there will be an appropriate mass Maple Story exposé… Nobody credits it for being one of the biggest greatest open world 2D platforming ARPGs of all time……… Metroidvania-heads don't discuss it….

It‘s always a good time flicking through game magazines, especially ones from places you didn’t grow up in. GameMeca has a bunch of Korean magazines on their site in full.


KOGA Korean Games E3 1998 Disc
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Hello Mr. President.
Presidents/prime ministers fighting game. http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/korea/part1/company-open2.htm
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@“hellomrkearns”#p63223 COINCIDENCE!? probably. but this is neat.

@“hellomrkearns”#p64173 That Mitterrand is awesome. Not as cool as Saddam “Guile” Hussein, though.


Here’s a local arcade quiz game from 1993, **퀴즈 채널 퀘스천-한국어판 / Quiz Channel Question**, by KM Korea. With a very kind translation effort from the uploader!


Interesting that both games reflect, in their own way, South Korea’s awakening to its current model of liberal democracy with the Sixth Republic and presidency of Kim Young-Sam ("YS" in the fighting game above) which started in 1993. Or maybe historians would rather place the most important turn to 1988 with the "slightly more democratic" presidential election process and the Seoul olympic games, I dunno.

1988's Koedoli is a pretty decent MSX puzzle-platformer by a Korean dev, writeup on HG101 here:


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Also from 1988, Quinpl is an excellent MSX2 puzzle-platformer by a Japanese dev, with a Korean release:
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This game was later transformed to the DMG as "Dragon Tail" in Japan and "Nail 'n Scale" in the US.

In 1995 SNK released Samurai Shodown 3 in Korea as 'Fighters Swords', featuring a removal of some content (blood? voices?) and renamed characters.
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In 1998, Konami released a Korean version of Vandal Hearts 1 for Windows:
more info available here: http://classicgameworld.co.kr/vandal-hearts-1/

I was coming here to say the gaira/kim ung che thing. that kinda stuff is dumb and neat! here's the two characters in a vs match.


Found an ancient photo graph of my maplestory character during a summer event. slime shoes.

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@“treefroggy”#p69864 I don‘t know if they did it for the clicks (and I do understand the need for clicks when talking about something niche) but I really disagree with that video’s headline as a statement of fact.