Tuesday 21 February 2023

Missed Classic - Oseung gwa Haneum - Lost

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

In the time since I lasted talked about the game, I've been looking into the titular duo. They are real, they're just...hard to find information in English on. That surprised me, considering how many people are supposed to be obsessed with Korea. Even if its just South Korea, does the extent of our desire to deal with this country's culture just live and die with K-pop and TV? I know a lot of weebs are shallow, but there are some interested in the history of the country.

Both Oseung and Haneum are pen names, but because of the weird way Korean seems to be transliterated, what their names are in English varies. Both have the last name Yi, but Oseung's real name is Hangbok while Haneum's is Tokhyong. Tok Hyong? Hang Bok? Your guess is as good as mine. A book I found, which barely mentioned the poor guys, says Tokhyong went to Ming China during an invasion by Japan to ask for help and was a sijo poet. Hangbok was the 16th century version of a prime minister and wrote the tale of Yu Yon. I don't know who Yu Yon is and at this point I am terrified to ask.

I note that at several times they're described as friends rather than brothers, something that carried on into adulthood. That's all I got I'm afraid.

This is basically the best choice of video. It seems like the screens I've seen so far tend to be of events people playing this in their native land would roughly know. Sort of akin to making a Gobliiins knockoff of King Arthur or Robin Hood. Something with lots of little events that can obviously be turned into short one screen puzzles.

I'm feeling that too, guy

Back to less stressful subjects, actually playing the game. Maybe...that is pretty hideous. We've just...I mean, there's nothing technically wrong with it, but that's a really ugly background. Somehow despite having one color, it clashes with itself. Pixels look like they were placed down by an idiot who kept mixing up art assets in a way strategically makes everything look mismatched. And why is there a floating hairball in the back?

Now, you, being an intelligent person who thinks things that stand out are what one's attention should be drawn to and focus on, will no doubt say that the thing in the middle is what should be focused on. Maybe, that's what I thought straight off too, but neither goblin...er...prime minister* can do anything. And let's be honest, an intelligent person would not be involved in the process of a stage that looks like this.

*I know that Haneum/Tokhyung/Tok Hyung probably isn't a prime minister, but it's funnier this way. At least I like it, and it's the only joy I'm getting in this entry.

What I'm missing is that dreaded cultural context, but I think in this case it's something I could have very well gotten if this screen didn't look like that. What you're supposed to do is have wide prime minister climb up on the cloud and blow the hairball out of the way. This causes the demon/guardian of heaven there to cry and disappear. This gets you the...golden mace he has, which you can then use to hit one of the clouds to give another of the door knocker things, but if you use it at this point, you restart the screen. No, what you have to do is hit the thing with the mace and then you get two door knockers, to use on the door.

A short timing puzzle later, and the door gets a bunch of random pixels on it to show that we can enter it and we advance to the next stage.

Like the whole cloud deal would be easy to spot if, say, the clouds you could use were a different color than everything else.

I have never seen a brontosaurus as pissed as that one looks like

Now we're in dinosaur land. Why? Uh...well if the egg, the angry dinosaur and the golden mace are any indication, we're either about to destroy this dinosaur's egg or clone this dinosaur's egg. I don't know what to expect. Also, while the music track that plays during this section is okay, it's distracting. I was going to say aggressive, but it's not exactly that. It feels like a combo of fast and melancholic that just doesn't work right now.

It takes me a while to figure it out, but if I try walking to that upper left cliff while wide prime minister has the golden mace, he'll activate it for no reason. That's a sentence I fully understood and had to say. Wonder how the code got mixed up like that. The real answer is because wide prime minister does walk up there. I just need to use the golden mace on the two conspicious stones you can see, which are just large enough to not be called a pixel hunt. The other gives a stone. As simple as this sounds, now I have everything I need to win this screen.

Have wide prime minister climb up the pole, then have tall prime minister throw the stone at the egg, revealing the dino inside. Then, and only then, can I use the golden mace to whack the brontosaurus's tail and advance to the next screen. Another stage down. This isn't just me, right? People are getting that this is incredibly tedious?

More dinosaurs. This one's annoying. Use the smaller horn on the other one then attach it to the dinosaur? Wrong, not yet. Trying the one reasonable thing now results in the stage restarting. So I'll screw around with the dinosaur. How? The game's pathfinding is trash here. Try walking to the dinosaur, and you'll go behind the cliff. Get in the right spot and it just yells at you. I still have the magic bell of plot advancement. Having wide prime minister use it on the small horn and it turns into a shovel.

What is it with this game and burying and digging up things? What is it about this idea that remains an overwhelming fixture of this game's puzzles? This is important, but the next step is to complete a bizarre action sequence in which wide prime minister climbs up, which you have to click on the right spot before he jumps off for no apparent reason. Then he appears on the other side. Now you can dig a hole, turn the shovel back into a bone, use the bone on the other bone, take the severed wing, use that to make a hang glider, place your two prime ministers carefully and you win. You find this out by clicking on everything with both characters in the hopes that something actually happens for once, or you look up a video walkthrough.

Just play that Sucker video for every single new screen, because at this point that's this game's puzzle design

I'm on a boat now. The boats in the background are moving back and forth. Am I going to have to aim these things? Could this game actually be designed worse than The Kristal? THEY'RE NOT EVEN LAYERING THEM PROPERLY! They're going over the inventory box. Something that basically everyone can avoid if they're not lazy. Even if the engine couldn't be fixed, it wouldn't be that hard to just adjust everything a few pixels downward. This room actively blocks me from doing anything. I try the bow on anything that looks remotely usable, nothing. I try picking up that rope tie thing I assume has a proper name, no dice. I try those drum sticks, the cannon, and parts of the other ship that look important. This is beginning to be less of a playthrough and more of a mix of frustration and then consulting a walkthrough.

What I missed is that I should shoot an arrow in the right window, which activates the head of the ship which shoots fire. Then find the magic pixel that allows wide prime minister to pick up one of the drum sticks, which is really an unlit torch. Have wide prime minister shove it to the flame, then tall prime minister can man the cannons. It is exactly as tedious as you can imagine to shoot down the boats, but at least the game doesn't penalize you for not hitting them.

What am I looking at? I like the way this screen looks, but it feels like non-sense. The lack of a background makes me wonder if there's an error, but it's a strange error if that's true. I still have the golden bell thing, and there's a stick with some sort of metal thing on the end partially hidden by a wall. By the way, left of the door is a button, only wide prime minister can press it. Why? Presumably he was a button pusher. By doing this, tall prime minister gets a second to pick up one of the wineglasses on the conveyor belt.

Now, wide prime minister can use the bell on the wineglass to turn it into a wide round glass, which tall prime minister can use to gather water. At any point of this tall prime minister can use the stick with metal bit on the end to break the glass. This restarts the scene...for some reason. Considering I'm not clear on what to do in this scene beyond "open door", the game making me restart twice because of something I can quite clearly get another of annoys me.

The actual answer to this crap is to take three glasses off the conveyor belt, turn two of them into other kinds of glasses, fill all three up, then put them on the stones in the middle of the scene. Now the tall prime minister can whack them with the stick to play a musical sequence to open the door. Its a decent idea, but its just a terrible execution.

Well, this one looks okay. I still think they screwed up the perspective on the ground. Not sure why this turned into Resident Evil though. Let's talk about a problem that hasn't been obvious to you the reader during this time. Not the questionable puzzles or hotspots which make no sense...rather, where the game puts you whenever you click on something. Hopefully I put up the right screenshot, showing where I last clicked and where the character is. That's a big difference and one I can't say I've seen before. It's especially bad because you have to climb up the ladder to use the fish. Did I mention this is very slow? They slowly climb up and down. Slowly.

Wide prime minister has to take the ink off the table and pull that switch you see. Then tall prime minister can open the chute on the left side and put in the ink. Wide prime minister can press a button which gives us...red ink. Tall prime minister picks that up, and at this point you're supposed to somehow intuit that you put it in again, have wide prime minister take the paper, which he couldn't do before, have tall prime minister put it in the machine, press the button again, use that on a bar on the ladder you might have taken for part of the background, then pick up the golden bell.

Beyond all nightmares I met my fate...

I hope this is over soon. Now the game is crying. I turned the sound off after a few minutes of this. This seems to be a reference to red oni, blue oni, demons with differing personalities. At least the clubs are. The obvious idea here involves the clubs and the holes. I can put them in and take them out. Either there's a hint somewhere or this is just about brute forcing your way through all the possible states the holes can have. Sort of a slightly more obtuse lever puzzle. With the bell there are three options. This allows me to bring down a fang...for some reason.

Next, tall prime minister has to pull on the earring, moving the oni boy a little bit to the left. Now...you have to figure out that the middle pile of dirt/cloud can be smashed with the blue club and then to put the club back and climb up the ladder of clouds that have appeared.

Back to reality, and it appears that wide prime minister has been brutallized. No, he's just wearing red winter gear for some reason. This screen stonewalled any attempts at trying to win it legitimately. Nothing worked. Nothing. I spammed use and pick up everywhere, with both dudes with and without that sickle you see. They can't climb up through any method I could work out. So the answer turns out to be click the foot icon on the stuff on the right. The one time that's actually the right way to use it. Are you kidding me?

So tall prime minister walks up those things, jumps on the table, picks up and then drops the saw and the knife. What wide prime minister does with the sawblade is obvious even if the location isn't, click on some of the wood to get wood. Cuts through it like cheese. Next, tall prime minister uses the knife on the stump to get...something, and the screen ends.

Okay, this looks nice, but why is this screen even a puzzle? Nothing that seems obvious works. I try using what seems like a spot to break into the ice with the stump thing. Nothing happens with either prime minister. The rope there does nothing. I try tying that to the tree or the stump and nothing happens. Why am I doing this? Why should you be reading this? You'd get the same experience as this if you watched a walkthrough and said "this is ****ing ********" every 10 seconds. I have better things to do than deal with any more of this, so let's take a page out of the book the Koreans throw at their prime ministers and judge them for their crimes.

Final Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Puzzles and Solvability

On the surface there's nothing necessarily wrong with the puzzles. What you have to do on each screen is usually fairly obvious even if there's no reason why you have to do that. Usually, some screens just feel like they require you to make random leaps in logic just to figure out what's going on. The problem is, of course, that you often have no reason to do something beyond its just there. Worse still, the actions you have to take to do so are not obvious. At the very bottom of the heap is that the game fights you every step of the way. Hotspots in this game are very hard to actually find, a click could do what you want or it could do nothing, meaning any good ideas are so far buried under bad that there's no point.


Interface and Inventory

Part of what I just described falls here. After all, even Coktel Vision realized that having some indication that your cursor is over something. If you can't make things stand out from the environment graphically, make them stand out via a text bar somewhere. But even besides this, the controls aren't great. I mean they work, there's never a problem getting them to work, it's just that what the game wants to work and how it'll actually work are two different questions. Which leads to problems where you click on the wrong area, which causes your character to walk to the opposite side of the screen for some reason.

Switching characters is simple, just click on the other character. But switching items isn't easy, and using items with one another isn't either. It also never quite makes sense why you should be using an item on another item.

It is nice that the game won't allow you to be put in an unwinnable situation though.


Story and Setting

The story isn't terribly important for obvious reasons. Setting-wise the game takes place around a single house documenting various incidents. For the first and last sections of the game. Even if how these relate to one another isn't obvious, it's kind of neat seeing it. Then we have the wild middle, where we get Korean religion, dinosaurs and then a sci-fi lab. This series of events feels highly disjointed even if it is supposed to be a dream sequence.


Sound and Graphics

On a superficial level, the game looks nice. There's decent animation, good backgrounds, the like. The backgrounds only look nice on a cursory examination, looking at it for any length of time, like say, playing the game, reveals its problems. That's not to say it's awful, just less good than it appears. As to the animation, I don't know how much was stolen from Coktel Vision or if its legally distinct. A bigger problem is that they're not properly paced. Coktel Vision animated their games well, pacing them out. Here animations are over in a second, a big problem if they're connected to a puzzle.

Sound is fine. The music is a bit samey and gets old long before the game is over.


Environment and Atmosphere

There's not really a lot to do, compounded by the control issues. You just get what you see, its nothing very interesting beyond the surface level. Atmosphere is weird, but I'm not quite sure I can place what its going for. Its got a children's book feel, yet doesn't quite feel like its doing that. Perhaps it's just unfamiliarity; Perhaps it's just because its ripping off a western game; Perhaps a combination. It just doesn't quite work.


Dialogue and Acting

There is no dialog. That's why I was able to play it.


That's 2+2+2+3+2+0, or 11. That times 1.6 is 17.6, so rounded is 18.

Leo Velles gets the closest score at 24, but credit must be given to El despertando for guessing how tedious this would be. This isn't really worth it. Coming from someone who considers the first two Goblins games as among his favorites.


  1. This was...strange. It is rare to find something so well and truly weird, many games try very hard to be weird, some games have weird decisions but this is properly bizarre. There may be some cultural background we are missing but the combination of characters and the things they achieve cannot simply be down to folklore that we don't know about. And even if it was a bit of folklore there would be more than just a few passing references. I am going to have rack my brains hard to try and find something that is comparably obscure and impossible to fathom outside of our own culture.

    Interesting playthrough though, I suspect that score puts it very near to the lowest scoring games?

    1. Eh, I don't think its that weird. I presume most of the screens this session were just the developers randomly picking out a subject to draw about with no forethought as to whether it fit. Its not like, say, an Osamu Sato game, or Armed & Delirious, where they're clearly going in and hitting something batcrap crazy. Maybe I've just been broken by too many Yume Nikki games over the years to find this abnormal content-wise.
      Thinking about something in our own culture, would Drowned God apply? Haven't played it, hope to when we get to 1996, but from what I know its based off the ancient astronauts/ancient aliens theory. Emanuelle, maybe? Or am I just thinking about that because they're both hateful games?

      Its just above the bottom 10, btw.

    2. Drowned God I do not know, but Emanuelle has some moments that would definitely stump people from other cultures, just the blog on it got me a few times as well. Puzzle Agent came to mind the other day, it also incorporates cultural aspects that I doubt is easy to understand or find information about.

    3. Interesting, it wouldn't occur to me that Puzzle Agent had much that would be indecipherable outside of our own culture. But would that apply to the puzzles? I seem to remember them being mostly simple things that could easily be divorced from American culture.

    4. The puzzles themselves are indeed very easy to understand, but the plot draws a lot from older conspiracy theories (think 90s X-Files) and some...Norse mythology if I remember correctly?

    5. V qba'g arprffnevyl guvax gur tabzrf jbhyq erdhver gung zhpu xabjyrqtr bs abefr zlgubybtl, whfg n trareny vqrn bs snvevrf. V jbhyq guvax gur jubyr tneqra tabzr wbxr jbhyq erdhver zber haqrefgnaqvat bs bhe phygher gubhtu.

      Also, what X-Files stuff? I don't remember any of that.

  2. https://adventuregamers.com/news/view/kickstarter-for-beyond-shadowgate-already-fully-funded

  3. Of all my predictions based on a first superficial glance to come true... I feel sorry for what you had to go through.

    1. I appreciate it. It was not fun. I sincerely hope that when I get around to playing Japanese adventure games it doesn't turn out these guys were stealing from their playbook!

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. To whom it may concern: It may not seem like it but I'm still struggling with BloodNet. I want my next post to be a WON! post but currently I can't get past the fight in Grant's Tomb. I'll try again on Tuesday.

    1. Yeah, the addict also had a spot of trouble there. Apparently there is a huge and sudden difficulty spike,as well as a spot of randomization during the battles. In the comments some former players said that after tons of reloading and new attempts you might get lucky and push through - that seems to be the best advice. Frustrating, I know...

  6. Thanks for the update! After your post, there will be a (possibly) record total of 3 "won" games with a pending rating post (Simon the Sorcerer, Day of the Tentacle and Bloodnet). And let's not forget Blue Force and Dracula: Unleashed should be almost completed soon. I wonder what happened to Alex with Blue Force, though... He seemed to be enjoying it, but it's been 2 months and 1 week since the last entry! ;)

    1. Alex has had some busy time in his personal life, so he hasn't had a chance to play the game, but should get back to it, when things will quiet down.

  7. So I sat down with my son to give this game a go (he loves Gobliins 2).... and yeah, I think I can sum it all up with his statement about 10 minutes in - "Can we stop playing now, this game is terrible."

    1. The story of your son playing 30 year old games seems more interesting that this particular Korean game. What other classic games does he like? And how old is he? (I started playing at 9, but I understand many start several years earlier).

    2. You're right, it probably is... but that says more about this game than the story of how my son got interested in the classics :P

      As some may have seen/heard, Melbourne, Australia had some of the strictest lockdown conditions in the Western world during the pandemic. We couldn't go anywhere, and even neighbourhood playgrounds were closed. During this time, I filled a community niche which involved performing board level repairs on vintage computers and *a lot* of Amiga 600/1200 recapping. Subsequently, the house was full of old computers which almost forced my rediscovery of classic games (adventures being my genre of choice).

      With nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do, my then 3 year old son would shadow me as I fixed computers and then play tested some of my all time favourites. Figuring I learnt to spell, type and problem solve through Sierra's AGI adventures, there were far worse things he could be doing, so I ended up setting him up with a machine of his own which I populated with every game I remember playing from 1985 (when I started with a Compaq Portable II) through to the late 90s.

      Initially, however, he favoured the Amiga, with the simple joystick/1 button controls being right up a 3 year old's alley. Now, I'll preface this by saying everything he played, he did so with cheats enabled... Agony was his favourite, with Superfrog, James Pond 2 and Mickey's ABC rounding out his "Amiga era".

      As he got closer to 4, his attention switched the the PC, starting with similar "simple" games - Alley Cat, The Manhole and Mixed up Mother Goose, but it was the Multimedia stuff that really allowed him to engage without me having to read every menu and dialogue item to him. Before he was 4 he could actually complete (through a combination of his own problem solving abilities and random luck) a few of the Putt Putt/Fatty Bear adventures from Humongous Entertainment, and also enjoyed (and still does) the "first wave" of MPC edutainment - you know, the Dorling Kindersley Win 3.11 stuff.

      To the original title in question - Gobliins 2 isn't a game that he likes playing himself so much as it's one he and his younger brother (2 and a half) love watching me play, with it's quirky sounds, graphic comedy, catchy tunes and approachable puzzles. Interestingly, his younger brother is much more into racing games... Stunts, Ignition and Test Drive.

      With restrictions now lifted, the boys spend most of their time outside or socialising now, but they will still fire up the computers from time to time. We seem to be playing more multiplayer board games than anything else now though - Hoyle's Book of Games 3, The Game of LIFE and Monopoly.

      Games evolved with me (a bit like cinema for someone born in the 30s), but my sons have access to every great game that ever set a new benchmark all at one. Will be fascinating to see if, once my eldest turns 5 in April and he starts learning to read in earnest, whether he ends up getting interested in those earlier games that require reading/typing or if playing more modern games has "ruined" that for him.

    3. @PsOmA: This is such an amazing personal story! Thanks for sharing! 🥰

  8. Wow, he's a really young gamer! I guess graphic adventures can be a bit complicated then, but since he appears to appreciate 30 year old 2D action-platform games, I recomend two excellent titles I was lucky to "have" as a child: Bruce Lee (a second player can control the bad guys in this one!) and Saboteur (very well implemented platforming mixing marcial arts with the same controls). Both were amazingly programmed by a single person (not the same guy) and they boast impressive minimalistic graphics that are sure to hypnotize little kids. I don't think they were released on the Amiga, though.

    1. Awesome, thanks... I found Saboteur, but it seems there are a few Bruce Lee games - a CGA one from 1984 seems to be the most common?

    2. Yeah, exactly! But I recommend the Amstrad CPC version as it looks better.

    3. Probably not appropriate for the kiddies, but I greatly enjoyed Saboteur 95, a fan game using a lot of ripped sprites. I think the level design is entirely original though, but I still haven't played the original two games.

    4. It's actually funny that both games integrate martial arts moves in a 2D platform setting, because I'm not really a fan of martial arts. It's just that, well, they're definitely on the top 10 above literally thousands of games released for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. And I was lucky to have a copy of them when I was 9-12 years old.

      Bruce Lee has its own particular strong points, namely competitive multiplayer (how many games let you control the bad guys to kill the person playing?) and many platform sections with just the right difficulty (quite rare at the time).

      Saboteur was the first game to have regenerating health, and exploring the environments feels nice and exciting (especially for a kid). It's flexible because kids can simply try to escape (in Saboteur, via helicopter in the difficult-to-access upper floors due to some unfinished construction works; in Saboteur 2, via underground motorbike complete with confusing caves and bats that drain your health). And dads can try to play the game how it should be played: finding all the disks to get the code to the next level (same map, with more disks differently placed).

      There's something about the combination of solid gameplay and the mysterious but attractive environments that made these games totally hypnotizing for me as a kid. I guess it's not the same if you play them as an adult in 2023 (or even as a kid), so maybe I'm biased. But still, the recommendations are still there and one thing is for certain: those games, while being 2D action platformers, have some elements that make them relatively unique compared to others.

      (I also recommend Matchday 2 for the same platforms, since I just checked and soccer is quite popular in Australia, especially among children... This one particular game is really, really ugly, but it offers unexpectedly fun gameplay that feels like playing soccer with the controls of an isometric platform game... And you can play 2 players competitive or coop).

    5. All good - I'm looking forward to giving them a shot with him... he does do Karate so that should be an easy way to get him excited about them.

      Soccer's definitely popular down here now, but for my generation living in Melbourne, there were 2 sports: Australian Rules Football (I don't think an AFL game came out for the PC until about 1998!) and Basketball. Luckily the latter had me well sorted as a kid... Erving vs Bird, Jordan vs Bird, Lakers vs Celtics, TV Sports Basketball, Michael Jordan in Flight.

      First Soccer game I played was Sensible Soccer which I didn't really enjoy despite apparent universal adoration - I hated the way when your player turned, the ball seemed to randomly decide whether to turn with you or not. I got into the Premier Manager games *a little* but yeah, as the sport never really did it for me, I struggled to engage in the games.