[GAME MASTER]YulgangShe was standing beneath the soft yellow glow of a streetlamp, her long black hair swept back into a high ponytail, when he found her. Clad in a white Taoist pantsuit topped with a gleaming silk vest of sea green, she was impatiently stabbing at a gray wolf, which was taking bites out of her leg.
The dark-haired young man raised his staff and cast a healing spell that closed her wounds. When the creature fell at her feet, he stepped up to her and spoke in gentle tones. “A young woman such as you should not be wandering alone at such late hours,” he said. “May I ask what you are doing here?”
“I am searching for the three-tailed fox.”
“Ah, but that is not in this area. You must go farther east.”
“Oh. Thank you.”
“Do you mind if I accompany you? It is safer to travel in a party.”
The above is an excerpt from a recent exchange I had on “Yulgang,” an online martial arts game. I used to shun massively multi-player online role-playing games, but the lack of new releases on the PC and console game markets led me to this genre, backed by a recommendation from the cute, curly-haired boy who works night shifts at my neighborhood PC room.
Yulgang, short for Yul Hyul Gang Ho, is based on a Korean comic book series. The game was released last year; after months of beta versions, it’s finally up and going. According to the aforementioned “Barbie boy,” it’s one of the most popular online games these days.
The game is basically the same as other online RPGs such as “Lineage” ― you select a character, then go out hunting to increase your skill level and fulfill quests. Once you reach a certain level, you can move to another province and pursue more challenging quests.
After six hours of playing, I was at level 14, but from then on it was necessary to spend at least several hours to upgrade the character to the next level, which became tiresome. But then, the players who play these multi-player online games actually enjoy hunting hundreds of Mongolian bears, thousands of three-tailed foxes or millions of bloated toads in order to develop a better fighting arm.
The nice thing about the game is the graphics. The idyllic countryside is very Korean ― forests and gentle hills ―and the characters, which look more like comic book figures than charismatic heroes, are cute. There’s no graphic violence, either; if you kill a wolf, it just slumps to the ground and fades away.
The biggest disappointment is the background music, which sounds like a weird fusion of traditional Korean and Chinese court music. This doesn’t do much to give the game a strong identity.
Also, although it is supposedly based on a comic book series, there seems to be no overall storyline, but perhaps that was because my character wasn’t developed enough to take on the “real” quests.
I suggest multitasking when playing this game. While you are fighting with woodland creatures, at some point your health level will go down. When this happens, you can go into a special “meditating” mode to get more strength. This can take up to a minute or so, so it is nice to be able to do something else while you’re waiting, like painting your nails or cleaning up your desk.
by Wohn Dong-hee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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