Friday, March 11, 2011

Fortnightly Korean Gaming History Tidbits: Twins (1995)

For those of you who wondered: Yes, I am still working on the second part for my big article about Korean games, but it comes with so many company profiles and game introductions that I'm only about halfway done. And that is with the companies that mostly put out RPGs still in front of me, where one has to invest at least a good weekend's gaming time per title to even grasp what's going on.

To bridge the gap and to help keep me motivated, I've decided to post one bit of content I'm preparing for the article in regular intervals, preferably interesting stuff that is in danger of getting buried later in the pages and pages that make up the whole article. Starting with Twins, a DOS game that is technically already covered in the pages that are up so far, although only very briefly, with two awfully dark screenshots scanned from an old magazine ("real" screens are rather dark, too). Well, I've found the game in the meantime, inside is my take on it as it will appear in the article until whenever I get to upload the next batch of pages.

There's much left to do ...

Twins tells the story of the two small-time criminal brothers Na Daero and Na Gaeseong. While both in prison for minor delicts, they make plans for their big coup they intend to land as soon as they are released. They get overheard, however, by one mysterious Mr. X, who from now on crosses all their plans and takes away with their loot. A wild chase begins, in which the twins not only have to catch Mr. X, but are themselves once again hunted by the police.

Twins is one of the most interesting and unique old games that hail from the Korean peninsula. As an adventure game based on the interchanging use of multiple characters (two in this case), it compares to the Goblins series by Coktel Vision to some degree. Several style elements, like character "voices" and gestures, also betray the inspiration. Twins doesn't stop here, though, but introduces a lot of new elements. Most of the game takes place in adventure mode, but other than most adventure games the anti heroes are not controlled by pointing and clicking, but directly with the cursor keys. The stout Daero moves the most heavy objects around and is competent in using tools, Gaeseong instead is a swift and nimble pickpocket and athlete. The game in general demands good use of either character's skills. Only in two of the later stages the developers seem to have all but forgotten the concept of their game, as those can be completed entirely with only one of the brothers. Puzzles are never unfair or illogical, but at times the game is very specific about the exact position items have to be used in.

After most stages follows a direct confrontation with Mr. X, that is fought out — well, fighting game style. The controls are not very elaborate, but Deca team knew exactly what they could and couldn't do with the engine, so it controls better than many dedicated fighting games on PC at the time. Mr. X is vastly superior both in terms of health and attack power, but the two brothers can take turns to take him on, with the resting one slowly regenerating health.

Last are the driving stages, which are the most frustrating. The car controls feel a bit sedate, maneuvers like a u-turn are not possible. Nonetheless it's fun to avoid police cars after gathering some momentum. The brothers can even get out and go on by foot when the car is stuck, but it is all spoiled by how police officers are handled. It is not possible to go anywhere near them, even when in the car. Thus they have the protagonists cornered in no time.

Twins was developed by Deca Team (concept, program, sound) in cooperation with Neo Art (graphics). Only a year after releasing their first game, they got bought out by Jeibi Hitech, where they started to work on the SRPG Tartarus. Before that game was finished however, the studio changed owners once again, this time to Softry, where their next few games were completed. Members of Neo Art ended up at Games&Multimedia, to work on the popular RPG Protocoss.

By the way, either the next episode or the one after that will be particularly sweet, so stay tuned.


  1. Any chance you could upload-me a copy of twins? I'm searchink it all over the net but it's not an easy one to find... I'll pay you some bucks via pay-pal :)

  2. Here you go: