Spot On: G-Star 2005 opens in Korea

Seoul's answer to E3 kicks off: PSP viewer demoed, NCsoft and SNK team up, and Hideo Kojima chats about MGS4's DMZ influences.


SEOUL--Yesterday, Korea's top game expo opened its doors to the public. It was the debut of G-Star 2005, a sprawling trade show similar to E3. Held at the Korea International Exhibition Center (KINTEX) just outside Seoul, the event attracts Korea's largest game operators and publishers.

Supported and funded by the Korean government, G-Star has been designed to one day compete on an international scale. However, it has yet to draw all the big names it will need to compete with an E3 or TGS--as noticeably absent this year are Microsoft, Nintendo, and Electronics Arts.

Clearly, the government agencies behind the event, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Information and Communication, are hoping for additional support over time.

The launch of G-Star comes in the wake of the cancellation of two other game shows: Korea Amuse World Game Expo (or KAMEX), which shuttered its doors last year after a decade-long run, and Daegu E-Sports Festival, a competitive event that took place for the last time this past summer.

Here are a few of the bigger stories from day one:

Sony shows off PSP Content Viewer
One game company that was in attendance at G-Star was Sony. Its Korean game subsidiary, Sony Computer Entertainment Korea (SCEK), touted a new application dubbed the "PSP Content Viewer (working title)." The new app lets users download specially formatted content onto the PSP. Developed by SCEK's Technology Group, the application is due for the Korean market shortly, though additional details (including pricing) were not revealed.

The PSP Content Viewer lets users download books, comic books, or Web clips to a Memory Stick so they can view the content on a PSP. It also lets users multitask so they can listen to music stored on the PSP while viewing printed content. A Web site will soon launch that will facilitate the downloading of content formatted for the new software.

The Sony booth also promoted a Korean Telecom Freetel-developed application called Dosirak Music Player, which will complement the viewer and facilitate the downloading of music.

NCsoft, SNK hook up
G-Star 2005 also saw one of Korea' biggest publishers, NCsoft, and Japan's SNK holding a well-attended press event. The two companies announced a joint endeavor that will see NCsoft localize and modify seven SNK games for home and arcades. King of Fighters, Samurai Showdown, and Metal Slug will be the first of seven franchises to be localized.

The agreement also calls for the two companies to develop additional games and services, as well as NCsoft being named the sole Korean localizer of all SNK online content. "SNK is a major game publisher in both the home and arcade space," an NCsoft spokesperson told reporters. "We look forward to working with them." Returning the favor, SNK said it was looking forward to having the Korean market's biggest game operator on its side.

Kojima comes to Korea
Also at G-Star was Hideo Kojima, legendary designer of the Metal Gear Solid games. The Konami producer extraordinaire had only visited Korea once before, but the experience had an impact on him, as well as on his forthcoming PlayStation 3 project, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.

Specifically, Kojima used his visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating communist North and capitalist South Korea--which are still technically at war--as a partial inspiration for MGS4's war-torn setting. "It doesn't show in the game, per se, but I put many of the feelings from that experience into the game," he told GameSpot Korea.

The producer also shed some light on his decision to form Kojima Productions, his own internal studio within Konami. "I use to develop games within the Konami structure, but they weren't truly my own," he said. "I had some trouble before, and I wanted to make my games based on my own decisions."

Also, Kojima elaborated on Metal Gear Solid 4's "nowhere to hide" theme. "MGS 4's backdrop is the middle of a war, where the battlefield is always changing. We chose that theme because there's nowhere in battle that is safe." However, Kojima said that when around allied soldiers in the war zone, Snake won't have to hide.

Unfortunately, the producer wouldn't go into any more detail about MGS4 or its gameplay. "We just started to work on MGS 4, so it's a bit early," he said.

As for Kojima's second trip to Korea, he only had one major complaint. "I'm disappointed that I only visit Korea when it's cold," he said.

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