It’s been quite a while now that I have had some deep interest for the South Korean video game market. It first started a few years back when I moved to Hong Kong for a job at a videogames online retailing company. I started getting a few Playstation 2 and Gamecube Korean games because these were offering Japanese artworks with English ingame texts. That was until I found out about a retro-gaming market in South Korea. As a collector of Japanese games I found it very interesting to see that Korea had an alternative market of its own. And as a true Megadrive Fan I just went crazy when I found out about all the Sega games and systems sold in Korea under the Samsung license. I’ve already introduced the Hyundai Super Comboy aka Super Nintendo with my small collection of games to my French readers here and here and now the time has come to introduce you to the Samsung Super Gam*Boy!
A bit of history
“After the end of World War II, South Korea banned “Japanese cultural imports” such as music, film, manga and literature. In South Korea, the ban was partially lifted under the Kim Dae-jung administration in 1998. In January 2004, the ban on imports of Japanese CDs and DVDs was finally lifted in South Korea. Despite this, there were some South Korean DVD imports of movies that were identical to Japanese DVDs sold from 1999 to 2003.” (source : Wikipedia).
After reading this, many deducted those were the reasons why Sega handed its Master System & Megadrive to Samsung (as they would do later with the Saturn and same as Nintendo did with Hyundai from the NES to the N64 era). Supposing that Japanese entertainement companies selling products in South Korea under their own name was just impossible and that the only way they found to avoid this embargo was to ask some major South Korean electronic manufacturers to handle both of their products localization and distibution isn’t that far fetched. And it’s probably true that because of these fragile relationships, many games officially distributed in South Korea contained English roms & texts rather than Japanese ones. However this has never been proven so far and the true reasons remain unknown to me to this day (it could have also been simply because any foreign entrepreneurship in South Korea required a joint venture or because Sega wasn’t willing to lay down financial resources for such a small market, or all of the above together…)
Quick view at the Master System/Mark III Era
In order to understand the South Korean branding of Sega Products, I belive it is important to start with the Master System. At the begining a few rebranded Sega Mark III consoles and games were released by a company named OACS but the Master System was quickly handed to Samsung under the name of Gam*Boy – 겜*보이 (and Nintendo’s GameBoy under the name of Mini-Comboy… sigh). It came with the shapes of a model 1 Master System and only had one small cosmetic change in its life time. The earlier version had its name written in Hangul, while the latest one had it written in Latin alphabet.
The system plays Sega Mark III Japanese cartridges and Sega “My Card” only, like the über-superior Master System from Japan. While priced at 119000₩ on release (around 120US$) and more expensive than the very popular Zemmix consolized MSX or any Famiclone, the Gam*Boy did sell quite well in South Korea. According to an early 1994 issue of the Game World magazine, the Gam*Boy sold about 130 000 units over its first year on the market, in 1989 (while the NES/Comboy poorly performed at 20 000 units for the same year, surely suffering from famicom wide spread piracy).
(thanks to derboo @smspower.org for the charts.)
Among the great things about this Korean Master System are without a doubt the exclusive games as Mark III cartridges (such as Sonic 1 & 2, Streets of Rage 1 & 2 etc…) and its joypads. As you can see on the pictures they are rounded and come with a real D-pad (which was supposed to be a Nintendo exclusive license by the way…).
Later in the early 90′s Samsung released the equivalent of the Master System Model 2 and changed the name to Samsung Gam*Boy II – 삼성겜보이II which came built-in with the game Alex Kidd in Miracle World translated in Korean. When this model came around Samsung had already released the Megadrive under the name of Super Gam*Boy – 수퍼*겜보이.
But that’s not all, another fourth and fifth late revision of the Sega Master System were released under the name of Aladdin Boy – 알라딘 보이. The third one came into a classic black color while the fourth and final revision came into a pretty strange blue and yellow color and was sold with a Megadrive joypad (I belive the previous joypad production had been discontinued by then, otherwise why would you need a third button?). However the console box for that one is pretty nice isn’t it?
A bunch of Samsung Gam*Boy games from my own collection. As previously said, some games like the following Sonic 2 never even had a release in Japan :
Behold The Mighty Super Gam*Boy!
What better name than Super Gam*Boy – 수퍼*겜보이 could suit the Gam*Boy successor more? After all we had our Nes and Super Nes right? I’ve been a Megadrive Fan since the early 90′s. When I first got it for Christmas, it also happened to be my first very own video game system. Ever since that time, It is still my opinion that it has one of the best design a video game machine can offer, especially that first model with the ring. Finding the following Samsung models outside of South Korea has been quite difficult and it will be for any of you that might get interested in getting one (same goes for any old Korean video game console anyway). These are truely some of my favorite pieces of hardware of all time (right after the Sega Wondermega) and even though I only found them in loose condition, they are in great shape with almost no scratches (especialy the earlier model presented right below).
The Super Gam*Boy was less successfull than the Gam*Boy in its early years. In the same way as the rest of the world, Nintendo 16bit console quickly became much more popular and when Hyundai released the Super Comboy in 1992 it outsold the Super Gam*boy in only a year :
Let’s have a look at it side by side with the Japanese model.
Both systems are very similar in appearance, they have the purple area around the power led as well as the “AV Intelligent Terminal High Grade Multipurpose Use” purple text on the circular molding and the big “16-BIT” written in gold letters. Both of them are early models with the extension port in the back and they both play NTSC-JP encoded games. Appart from the Samsung & 수퍼겜보이 logos they appear both identical on first look. However you might notice how the “Reset” button is a bit lighter on the Samsung model, at first I thought it was suffering from discoloration, but when I opened the system to clean it and take pictures I found out that the whole button had this color (only the top would have had that color, had this been some kind of sunfading). I’ve searched for other pictures on some Korean websites and all of them had that lighter color which appears to be specific to the Korean Megadrive.
The minute you flip the console around you notice some other tiny differences. The most obvious ones are the stickers. The sticker in the middle displays the system name, serial, product reference (Super Gam*Boy ref# is SPC-200, FYI Gam*boy aka Master System was SPC-100), AC specs and the old Samsung Logo written in Korean in lieu of the usual Sega one. The second one, the big sticker on the left, shows a list of Samsung Service Centers (삼성전자 서비스 센터) with phone numbers all sorted by areas. There’s also a third Quality Control sticker with some chop marks on it (품질인증) on the right. But there’s still a little difference that remains under there and correct me if I’m wrong but I own 3 Japanese and 1 Asian Model 1 Megadrive and none of them have those 2 square shapped little pads at the bottom. I’ve only seen those squary things under the Samsung Megadrive. That’s it for the differences, now let’s have a look at the Queen, shall we?
Under the Hood
Ok, now that we’ve seen how nice it looks from the outside let’s strip the thing a bit. I’ve also taken appart the Japanese model for some comparison shots.
The first noticeable thing is that the South Korean model has a big GoldStar chip inside. Goldstar is the previous name of a well known Korean electronic manufacturer that calls himself “LG” today. However, the motherboards and most of the other chips are still branded by Sega and other Japanese manufacturers like Toshiba, Sony, Yamaha & NEC. One other thing I’ve noticed, which happens to be quite a funny fact, is that on my early Japanese model one of the chip is made by Samsung in Korea while the very same chip on the Korean model is made by NEC in Japan. One could also argue that the whole motherboard layout is different but unfortunately I don’t own every Japanese and South Korean revisions to make a deeper comparison.
Of course the South Korean and Japanese PCBs shown above are just 2 of the many revisions of the system. We already know for a fact that Japan, US & Europe had many motherboard revisions for the Model 1 Megadrive and it seems South Korea got itself the same treatment. For exemple here’s another PCB close-up hosted at segagagadomain.com.
This one is taken from a late revision (Super Aladdin Boy – 수퍼 알라딘 보이) which had its EXT port removed in the back. As you can see the Goldstar chip is still there but this time the motherboard is branded by Samsung (SPC-200R / 201R REV A) and the nearby chip is also a Samsung one while on early model of the Super Gam*Boy it had a Nippon Electronic Computer chip…
Names and Design Variations
Now, we’ve seen how the Master System had different names and variations in South Korea already : Gam*boy for the model 1, Gam*Boy II & Aladdin Boy for the model 2. Well, the naming went pretty similar for the 16Bit. Let’s have a look at the different retail boxes.
I’ve shown you pictures of the Super Gam*Boy & Super Aladdin Boy already. But know that there are 2 Megadrive model among this last South Korean name: Super Aladdin Boy – 수퍼 알라딘 보이 for the Model 1 late revisions (SPC-200R & SPC-201R) & Super Aladdin Boy II – 수퍼 알라딘 보이 II for the Model 2 Megadrive (SPC-201N & SPC-1600R). Each of these had at least 2 variations during their lifetime, mostly because of the changes of design in the Samsung logo. Same thing applies to the Joypads, as illustrated in pictures below.
Regarding the sudden change of name from Gam*Boy to Aladdin Boy for the whole set of early 90′s Sega Systems in South Korea, some people belive it’s because in 1992, when the Disney movie Aladdin was released it became quite popular in South Korea. Samsung Might have thought it’ll be a good marketing strategy to change its product name with the word Aladdin in it. This is highly unlikely since Samsung was already using the name of “Aladdin” about a year ago for one of its new PC, the “Aladdin Magic Computer“. Also if we take a closer look at all dates, here’s what we find:
Now, the release date of Disney movie Aladdin in South Korea : July 3rd 1993 (source : IMDB).
Here are some side by side comparison shots of a Super Aladdin Boy II with a Japanese and European Megadrive 2. Notice how the Power and Reset buttons on the Super Aladdin Boy II are similar to the European model in terms of shapes while the color layout of the system matches the Japanese system.
For such at small market, South Korea had quite a lot of titles released on the Super Gam*boy, some of them didn’t even get a release in Japan like Decap Attack, Sonic 3D, Toe Jam & Earl 2 or the Tiny Toons and some got released in Korean ONLY (Space Turtle Battleship – 우주 거북선). There’s been quite a lot of game variations in South Korea, all distributed by 2 companies : Samsung mostly, and Hi-COM (who seemed to be one of Samsung distributor). Basically there were 5 main types of Samsung releases.
The very first batch of 10 titles that came out on the system had specific box art for the Super Gam*Boy and sometimes came in small VHS like boxes.
And as you will see later in this article, some Master System games were even brought on Megadrive cartridge during the early Super Gam*Boy period, probably as a transition between the 2 systems (more or less legitimately…). Then came the “White, Silver & Gold” series, then the “Full Page Cover” series and the “Brick Wall” series.
Finally, the late releases were sold under the name of Samsung Home Console Games – 삼성 홈게임기 with a blue, red and yellow label pretty similar to the late Japanese or European Megadrive blue label or US Genesis red label.
The Samsung Home Console Games – 삼성 홈게임기 logo can also be found on the retail boxes of the Super Aladdin Boy II, both on the SPC-201N and SPC-1600R bundles.
Here’s some pictures of games I have gathered together over the last years. And by the way, If you are selling/ seeing for sale any CIB Korean game that I don’t have, please let me know !
Let’s start with the only exclusive South Korean game released by Samsung, a vertical Shoot’em up : Uzu Keobukseon – 우주 거북선 (more infos here)
Then let’s have a look at a bunch of Loose cartridges. The first set of photos shows the 10 original games released for the Super Gam*Boy, you can recognize them by the roundish blue Samsung label. From those original titles, Golden Axe and The Super Shinobi were later re-released in the “White, Silver & Gold” series. It also seems that Samsung never got the license for Rambo III, so they had to put an orange Sega logo sticker over the cart label.
Don’t hesitate to click on any of the game’s name for more pictures such as other versions comparison shots and extras infos.
Tatsujin – 타수진 – GM4001JG
Altered Beast – 수왕기 – GM4002JG
Space Harrier II – 스페이스해리어 II – GM4003JG
The Super Shinobi – 수퍼시노비 – GM4004JG
Golden Axe – 골든액스 – GM4005JG
Super Thunder Blade – 수퍼썬더블레이드 – GM4006JG
Rambo – 람보 III – GM4007JG
Daemagyecheon – 대마계촌 – GM5008JG
Zoom – 줌! – GM4009JG
Thunder Force II – 썬더포스 II – GM4010JG
Some other random loose games, in order of appearance : Mystic Defender – 온달장군, Power Monger – 파워몽거, Chiki Chiki Boys – 꾸러기 대모험, Fatal Fury – 페이틀퓨리, Landstalker – 랜드스토커, Last Battle – 라스트배틀, Mutant League Football – 뮤탄트리그뭇볼, Nekketsu Koukou Dodgeball-bu Soccer-hen MD – 열혈고교-축구, Rampart – 램파트, Sonic 3D Blast – 소닉3D블러스트, Streets of Rage 2 – 베어너클2, Streets of Rage 3 – 베어너클3, Super Street Figthers II – 슈퍼스트리트 파이터2, Toe Jam & Earl – 홀이와 뚱이, Toe Jam & Earl in : Panic on Funkotron – 홀이와뚱이2, World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck – 미키와도날드 (click on any game’s name for more pics and infos).
Among those games 3 of them are interesting to look at as they are genuine South Korean release only, the first one is Mystic Defender aka “Ondal Janggun” which has been fully translated to Korean and had some graphic changes made by Samsung to match the Medieval Korean culture rather than the Japanese one. The second one is Super Street Fighter II as this one contains the western rotated names for the bosses (Balrog/M. Bison, Vega/Balrog, M. Bison/Vega) but won’t run on any western system as it is NTSC-J locked. Finally, there is Toe Jam & Earl 2 which was never released in Japan but is also locked in NTSC-J.
“White, Silver & Gold” games:
(remember, you can click on any of the game’s name for more pics & infos)
Crying – 크라잉
Dahna – 다아나
Darwin 4081 – 다-원 4081
Decap Attack – 디캡 어택
Doraemon – 도라에몽
Ecco The Dolphin – 돌핀
Ghostbusters – 고스트바스터스
Kid Chameleon – 키드 카멜레온
Phantasy Star II – 환타지스타 2
Phantasy Star III – 환타지스타 3
Power Athlete – 파워어슬리트
Quackshot Starring Donald Duck – 도날드덕, 2 variations, avec coins argentés ou dorés.
Sasin Draxos (Risky Woods) – 사신 드락소스 (리스키우즈)
The Kick Boxing – 더킥복싱
The New Zealand Story – 뉴질랜드 스토리
Sonic The Hedgehog – 바람돌이 소닉, first Samsung release of this game. Rom is a japanese Rev 01 with improved gfx and bug fixes.
Splatterhouse Part 3 – 스프래터하우스3
Thunder Force III – 썬더포스III
Thunder Force IV – 썬더포스IV
Wonderboy V: Monster World III – 몬스타 월드3
Dr. Robotnik Mean Bean Machine / Puyo Puyo – 동글이 퇴치작전 (뿌요뿌요)
Eternal Champion – 이터널 챔피언
Rocket Knight Adventure – 로켓나이트 어드벤쳐
Sonic The Hedgehog – 바람돌이 소닉, second Samsung version of this game, one of the very few that got a full color instruction manual. Rom is also a Japanese Rev 01.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 – 바람돌이 소닉 2
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 – 바람돌이 소닉 3, 2 known variations, the insert and cart label front artwork cropping is slightly different.
The Super Shinobi II – 수퍼시노비 2
TMNT – Tournament Fighters – TMNT 토너먼트파이터(*pics coming soon)
“Full Page Cover” Samsung games with the japanese MD logo on the spine:
Contra Hard Corps – 콘트라하드코어. This South Korean version has a Japanese-like cover but holds a US Rom.
Mega Bomberman – 메가 븜버맨
Tiny Toon Adventures : ACME All-Stars – 타이니 튠의 모험2
“Samsung Home” Games:
Light Crusader – 라이트 크루세이더
Ragnacenty – 신창세기 라그나센티
Sonic The Hedgehog – 바람돌이 소닉, third and latest release of Sonic The Hedgehog, strangely this rom is a REV 00.
The Story of Thor – 스토리 오브 도어
Sonic Collection – 소닉클래식
Monster World III – 몬스타 월드3
Some cool cartridges
The most noticeable thing about the following game cartridges is that these are either SG-1000 or Sega Mark III games that plays directly on any Sega Megadrive or Genesis system without the need of a pass-through adaptor.
This game is really cool, it comes in a classic megadrive clamshell box and a slightly modified japanese shaped megadrive cartridge where the label is only on the front. It also uses the japanese artwork from Super Wonder Boy in Monster World while the game truly is just the old classic Wonderboy (you know, the half naked blond dude with a skateboard… ). This game seems to be an official game released by Samsung, not a bootleg. A very interesting item!
Most of you surely already know how complicated it is to sort the wonderboy/monster world/adventure island series but here are some new facts about it :
- 1) Super Wonder Boy in Monster World was also released in South Korea for the Samsung Master System, it came in a Sega Mark III gold box and uses the same artwork as the one from that video (aka its japanese original artwork). Again there’s a funny fact about the box mentioning a 1MB game while the Japanese one states it’s a 2MB game (probably just a mistake though).
- 2) Classic wonder boy was also released by Hi-COM for the Master system in South Korea, gold box as well, but hold on tight : this one has a weird Hudson like adventure island artwork on the cover instead of the classic wonderboy artwork we all know…
- 3) As seen on the above video, classic Master System WonderBoy was released on Megadrive and uses Super Wonder Boy in Monster World arworks…
As for Super Wonderboy shown a bit earlier, it seems to me that these cartridges were official releases in South Korea, athought they were most likely produced without the agreement of Sega Japan. They have been be made either by Hi-COM and/or Samsung in the very early stage of the Super Gam*boy era, check out this picture :
The followings are Bootleg cartridges containing a bunch of Sega Master System games. Some of those SMS games are Korean Exclusive games made by OPEN or Hi-COM. The original versions of these exclusive titles as stand alone Mark III cartridges are very rare and go for quite some money when they appear on ebay.
While there isn’t really 270 games on this cartridge, this is one of the coolest South Korean compilation of SMS games for Megadrive I’ve seen so far. Not only it contains a bunch a great SMS games like Super Wonderboy or Fantasy Zone, it also contains 6 Korean exclusive titles, and a pirate version of Tetris.
Extras (game listing, pictures & ads)
Some of the finest Korean collections:
Disclaimer & Thanks
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Do not copy, modify or sell this article unless you have been authorized to do so by scanlines16.com. You can however quote some part of it as long as you give credit to scanlines16.com for it and post a link to this original page along with the quote. It has taken me a lot of time to compile, understand and write all the informations from this article, please respect my work.
Thanks to Guardiana.net for being such a ressourceful website and being THE best Megadrive website around. Thanks to Cyberguile for his astonishing discoveries over the last years and Thanks to smspower.org community and hardcoregaming101.net for their precious informations. Thanks to molotovwars for his input regarding the Super Gam*Boy games variations in general, to Taksangs for his pictures, to Hongseok for his Gam*Boy Master List and for helping me filling the blanks here and there and to all the people in South Korea collecting and posting images of their retro-gaming collection on the internet at Naver, Ruliweb & Egloos.
Ah, and of course thanks to you for reading this quite long article, I hope you enjoyed it