It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday and I’m sitting on the beach with more than 600 other people while dazzling displays of fireworks explode in the starless black sky above. Up on the stage, lights flash and flames are shot into the air, the kind that often preempted big wrestling matches when I was younger. Everyone cheers, many clapping noisemakers together and pretending to drink from inflatable cans of Hot6, South Korea’s equivalent of Red Bull. Three enormous TV screens engulf the stage ahead.
But this isn’t a wrestling match or K-pop concert that we’re anticipating. It’s something far more surprising: a videogame tournament finale. (more…)
When Jiro Ono appeared onscreen and began explaining his life philosophy, I found myself unexpectedly dazed.
“Once you decide on your occupation…you must immerse yourself in your work,” he says. “You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success…and is the key to being regarded honorably.”
It’s often the case that any discussion regarding Okami inevitably ends up revolving around comparisons to The Legend of Zelda. How does Capcom’s adventure title stack up to Nintendo’s highly-venerated franchise? Does it fall short? This is a problem. For one thing, the most interesting thing about the last decade of Zelda has been witnessing the series slowly but gradually buckle under its own weight with each successive installment. It hasn’t exactly been flying high. Secondly, the conversation glosses over the one reason anyone cares about Okami in the first place: its sumi-e art direction. (more…)
This past February, indie Korean developer Turtle Cream released its first commercial game, only to announce that it would be unavailable in the one place you’d most expect to find it: South Korea. As a way to protest their government’s game regulation policies, the developers have decided not to release any of their titles in Korea (or even with a Korean language option) until these practices are lifted. Korea’s shutdown law prohibits kids 16 and under from playing videogames past midnight, while the cooling-off policy keeps children from playing for more than four hours a day or two hours at a time.
Turtle Cream’s latest project, Sugar Cube: Bittersweet Factory, follows a runaway cube of sugar trying to escape a future that involves being mashed up into a cookie. The game’s distinguishing feature is that its levels are composed of two-sided tiles that must be flipped accordingly so that players can advance through the stage, and the team was rewarded for its efforts by winning Best Title at the Independent Games Festival China in 2010. We recently had a chance to talk to Sun Park about his group’s protest, forming an indie team in Korea, and the crushing pressure that many Koreans face to find work at giant conglomerates rather than strike out on their own. (more…)