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"Gunster" is a newly released “casual” shooting game by NHN, the operator of Naver, one of the biggest portal Web sites in Korea.
It may seem strange that blasting away is something that can be considered casual, since the game involves evil weapons that cause mass destruction, but I guess the makers call it that because the game adopts an arcade style and doesn’t have a whole lot of gore, as do other first-person shooters such as Rainbow Six or Doom 3.
The game can be played on two platforms. One is a downloadable game-playing client called “Hangame,” which is a portal for hundreds of different arcade-style games, including board games, card games, and other arcade adventures.
There is also a flash-type version that doesn’t need to be downloaded. The game-playing takes place on a small “window” on the screen, but compared to the downloadable game-playing client, it’s a little simpler.
Yang Yung-kyu, a 27-year old office worker, points out that one of the nice things about the game is that it can be played as a flash version ― which makes it easy to play at work. “When my boss yells at me, I just log on and play the game. It takes out a lot of stress,” he says.
The game is simple and requires very little navigation, if moving left and right can be called navigating at all.
You can use your mouse to point and shoot at the enemies, who usually approach at you from the right side of the screen.
There is also a gauge called the “booster” which, when you press a certain key on the keyboard, will send you flying up into the air. Going up into the air is necessary to kill enemies that are approaching you from overhead, since most of the time, the bullets flying out of your weapon will be moving horizontally.
There is a choice of weapons if one goes further up the ranks, but the choice of weapon doesn’t make a huge difference in the game-playing itself.
Looking at all the promotional material for the game and the “music video,” which features an extremely thin girl wearing a school uniform and and sporting a long rifle, I suppose the game is meant for middle and high-school students ― or dirty old men.
Although the game is not complex and has no original storyline, it surprisingly ranks among the top 10 for game-ranking lists on major Internet sites. Perhaps the high ranking was awarded because gamers playing arcade-style shoot-em-ups wanted to use a gun. Most arcade-style games that have been released in the past few months were mostly fantasy adventure games that had role-playing elements instead of gunplay.
Oh Jun-we, a 24-year old student, says he is addicted to “Gunster” because it doesn’t require a lot of thinking and there are a lot of interesting events that occur throughout the game.
Which brings us to marketing.
When all is said and done, marketing and promotion play a huge part in the popularity of games these days, and since NHN operates Naver, it has been using the portal agressively (major understatement) to promote its new game.
The company has been doing a lot of joint promotions with other companies. No surprise either that the reviews of the game that the site posts on the main pages of its portal are favorable as well.

by Wohn Dong-hee
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