Why am I posting this before part two of something I’d almost entirely finished writing before posting part one? Well, I was going to post that today, but this is also important. This short article is about a re-release of a classic game that previously had only been available in an incredibly rare South Korean-market-only release, and how lazy the Western release is of the re-release is.
So, back in February of this year, Piko Interactive and Limited Run took preorders for a re-release of the extremely rare Korean 3DO/PC fighting game The Eye of Typhoon. Piko Interactive specializes in re-releases of games for older consoles that previously were not released in the West. They translate them and release them here, both on their original platform and sometimes also on PC (Steam). Limited Run, meanwhile, is fairly famous, most people reading this probably know of them. The company mostly releases limited-quantity physical releases of modern games which otherwise are only available digitally. They also release a few re-releases of classic games. This is one of those few. The game was sold exclusively as a $115 plus tax and shipping collector’s edition with no regular edition offered. This is really unfortunate and surely significantly decreased the number of buyers, most people would only want a copy of the English 3DO game and not the rest of this stuff. But regardless, early in 2022 the preorders opened, were available for a while, and eventually closed. Just before preorders closed the last day I decided to buy a copy from Piko Interactive’s site. I chose them over Limited Run, though the price and what buyers get is almost certainly identical either way. Piko has since removed the game from their site, though Limited Run still has it listed as something they sold. I don’t know why Piko removed it. I could guess, but do not know.
Move forward some months. A week or two ago, my copy showed up in the mail from Piko. And wow is this package odd! First, though, it seems like very very few people bought this thing, because searching online in English I find almost NOTHING about the actual released LR/Piko version of this game. I don’t know if the Limited Run-sold versions have also shipped or not, but on Yahoo I find nothing, and on Youtube only one video from a Korean person showing gameplay. Curious. I did find a couple of listings on Ebay of people selling the US release of the game, though, so I’m not the only one who has this. It seems to have already just about tripled in value versus the amount I paid for the preorder early this year. Given that we are talking about something connected to Limited Run that very few people seem to have bought this isn’t surprising, but it is disappointing and again shows how big of a mistake making this only an expensive collector’s edition was.
But this article is not just about that I bought it’ I buy plenty of things, and rarely make articles on this site about them soon afterwards, that is for elsewhere. I had to write this because of what I found inside. Essentially, it is clear that what happened is that Piko and Limited Run sold an unaltered Korean game with no changes other than adding a small little eight-page English language instruction book that only covers the absolute basics and nothing more. There were some signs that this would be a mostly Korean product before buying it, I must say. The LR and Piko listings were both in badly broken Engrish, for one thing. But I was expecting, at the minimum, the paper materials in this box to all e translated. They are not. Instead, almost everything is exclusively in Korean except for the little English manual and the contents of the two English game discs. Or Engrish game discs, perhaps more appropriately, given the poor quality of the translation. I’m not sure if the text inside the game is a new translation or one made back in the ’90s for a Western release that never happened until now, but it is comically poor.
Things start off well. As you see in the picture above, the good-sized box comes with an English-language cardboard slipcover over a Korean-language inner box; a metal rectangle celebrating the developer Viccom’s anniversary; a pack of cards with the moves for each character on one side (move names only in Korean) and the character name and image on the other (name in English and Korean); a Korean-language book explaining Viccom’s history that is apparently called the “Secret Book of Viccom”, which might be nice if you could read the language but is mostly useless for the English-speaker apart from its nice sprite images and commands for every move in the game; an English-language insturction booklet, only eight pages long, explaining some of the story, installation instructions for the PC version, and controls; and three jewelcases. One is a dual-jewel, and two single jewelcases.
Now, this set comes with four discs — 3DO English, 3DO Korean, PC English, and PC Korean. The PC versions will run on a classic PC (that one English-language booklet explains how to install this) or also in DOSBox on a newer machine, which is included on the discs. All three jewelcases have the game name in English along the left side, different variations on the same character art picture in the middle, and the game’s name in Korean in the center top. One of the single jewelcases says 3DO on it, and the other CD-ROM and thus surely is for the PC>. The dual jewel has the name in English along with Korean in the center top. The dual jewel says 3DO / PC on it, to show that both versions are in this case. All three jewelcases have a manual in them, all three exclusively in Korean. So uh, which is the English version? It sure is hard to tell. However, after trying them in my 3DO, the discs in the dual-jewel case say “Korean Version” on them, and indeed they are. The other two standalone jewelcases, which do not say which version they have on them and again have LESS English on the cover and NO English in their instruction books, are in fact the English versions. It would be hard for them to have made this any less confusing.
Of course, the English we’re talking about here is very limited in number of words and is incredibly poorly translated to the point of sometimes being unintelligible, but hey, at least it’s in English! After going through the packaging and manuals and such I was starting to think it’d only be in Korean, since why else would the manuals in the jewelcases all be in Korean? That eight-page English language booklet doesn’t come even close to translating everything in any of the three manuals. But fortunately no, both versions are here.
As for the game, this game started out as a Neo-Geo project, but only was released on PC and 3DO. It’s a very SNK-styled fighting game, which is understandable given the developer’s history with making the very poorly regarded Fight Fever for the Neo-Geo. This game is considered to be much better, though, fortunately. The Eye of Typhoon has strong influences from Samurai Shodown, The King of Fighters, and of course Capcom’s Street Fighter II. The characters all are very familiar looking stereotypes to anyone who has played Capcom and SNK fighters, but the moves aren’t all copied out of other games. For instance there is a character who looks almost exactly like Chun-Li, but she plays nothing like Chun-Li; she’s more of a magician type. This is a fantasy historical martial artist fighting competition game. It’s mostly about hand-to-hand combat with conventional special moves, so it isn’t a weapon-based fighter. There are magical martial arts moves aplenty here, though. It’s a fun, conventional fighter of its era. On 3DO, the game runs playably but definitely not smoothly; this game almost certainly runs worse than Samurai Shodown for 3DO. You get used to it, but it’s choppy and doesn’t feel great. The PC version runs much better but takes a little more work to get running, requiring DOSBox or an old PC and all.
Once you get into the game, you find another oddity: a lack of options. The game has only one option, solo or team modes. Other than that you can’t change anything. There isn’t even a dedicated versus mode, you need to enter from the single player mode by hitting start on the second controller each time you want a two player match. Fortunately though, despite not having AI difficulty options the game is fairly challenging. In fact, some people will probably find this game too hard; it gets tough after the first few opponents. Still, it’s good that the one AI difficulty level you’re stuck with puts up a good fight. It’s a decent ’90s fighter and while not amazing is fun enough. I should try it on PC to see the better framerate, but so far I have only played the 3DO version. The game is reasonably fun. It’s not as good as SSFIIT or SamSho on 3DO, but based on playing a little bit of it it does live up to its reputation for being a decently good game and I am glad to have bought it.
Overall, this is a genuinely decent to good fighting game and is one of the better ones on its system. It’s great that it was re-released, but it’s simultaneously a real shame that this Western release of the re-release is so incredibly lazy. It is clear that all Limited Run and Pico did is sell us the Korean re-release with no changes other than adding that little manual booklet, and for the amount of money this cost that is not okay. I think it is more than reasonable to expect translated manuals and history booklets from a $115 product! But no, you don’t get that here. It’s disappointing. Also disappointing, of course, is that no cheaper English jewelcase only release of the rerelease was sold. This collection is probably already more common than the incredibly rare Korean original release from the ’90s, but it is expensive and is sure to get even more so over time. I know that can happen with Limited Run stuff, but this is a bit different from most of their releases, not really being their release and all. It’s fantastic to have a legit, licensed re-release of The Eye of Typhoon so I can finally legitimately play this game I have heard so much about. While flawed, this is a pretty cool thing to have. But a lot more people should have access to it and it should never have been sold with so much of the written materials untranslated. It’s a real shame this release was so limited and lazily brought over to the West. I fully understand why people did not buy this, but considering where its value has gone, more people probably should have despite the significant shortcomings. Ah well.