Reducing the world’s most enigmatic ruler down to 16 bits of 90s retro shoot em’ up bliss, indie game developer Moneyhorse allows gamers to go into battle against the wicked cohorts of the West as dear leader Kim Jong-un.
“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea commands you to know that the capitalistic pigs at Moneyhorse LLC are developing Glorious Leader!, an epic tale about the triumph of Kim Jong-un over the entire American army. Battle through 7 unique levels as you defeat waves of imperialists, combat over-the-top bosses, and ride unicorns,” the Atlanta, Georgia-based company says on their website.
In a promo-posted online, a machine gun-toting Kim rendered in 4th generation style runs to stand between the statues of North Korea’s late and great leaders: “Great Leader” Kim il-sung, and “supreme leader” Kim Jong-il.
With dramatic music playing in the background, a deeply reverential narrator delivers a suspect subtitled homage to Kim as he prepares to wage battle.
“Oh Glorious Leader! Oh Glorious Leader!” the narrator says with a quavering voice, as a montage of Kim holding an array of fire arms takes the viewer on an even more glorious slide show.
“For years you have watched, and trained, and trained some more, and stood on tanks, waiting for the moment to destroy the capitalist swine!”
The trailer then reverts back to 16-bit glory, showing a tiny, pixelated Kim dashing through a snowy, 2-D landscape of North Korea atop a majestic unicorn before shooting down US paratroopers on the streets of Pyongyang. The promo ends with Kim and a tooled-up Dennis Rodman standing side by side on a basketball court before descending through the floor.
Speaking to NK News, Moneyhorse “Big Boss” Jeff Miller said that the idea for the game was sparked by his fascination with “bizarre regimes” like North Korea and that he thought the game could be a success because it would “stand out from the crowd,” as well as being “topical and funny.”
“I’ve been making games 13 years now, and so usually if I
have an idea about something that’s the medium I think
through,” he said. “I hadn’t seen a North Korea game
before, and it seemed like something that needed to be
Miller says each level will culminate in a boss fight, one of which will be a giant, mechanized Statue of Liberty, “secretly converted in the eighties to be a robot in case of Soviet invasion.”
Several mini-games are also slated, including the ability to play ball with “The Worm” and Kim’s “friend for life.”
While Miller first expected the game to appeal to a niche market seeking out 90s action games, the response has taken him by surprise.
“Lots of people from around the world” have expressed interest, he said, including South Koreans, “who I never expected would want to play the game.”
When questioned whether he was making light of North Korea’s serious human rights issues, Miller said the game was intended to be “satirical, not political,” stressing the game developers had “ramped up the ridiculousness” to 11.
He added that while not trying to make a “callous game,” the best thing he could do “is let people make up their mind, rather than cramming my views down their throats.”
Glorious Leader! is not, in fact, the first game to feature North Korea. In 2012, students at the North’s Kim Chaek University of Technology and Nosotek, the first Western invested IT joint venture company in North Korea, created a retro-style arcade racing game.
The game, published by Koryo Tours, allowed potential tourists to visit a facsimile of the capital and check out the capital’s layout without actually stepping foot in the country.