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[Time to Play] Second Country: Cross Worlds offers something extra

Helped by Studio Ghibli-style graphics, new game likely to unlock users' minds, deliver new momentum to Netmarble

Second World: Cross Worlds screenshots (Second World: Cross Worlds)
Second World: Cross Worlds screenshots (Second World: Cross Worlds)

In every sport, there is a moment when you must score.

Netmarble, whose operating margin fell to single digit -- 9.5 percent -- in the first quarter of this year amid the lackluster performance of its much-anticipated release Seven Knights 2, definitely needed a point to turn things around.

Second Country: Cross Worlds, a mobile role-playing game with Studio Ghibli-style graphics, arrives against this backdrop and may just be the one that delivers the much-needed new momentum.

Released on June 10, Second Country revolves around a rather simplistic story. A protagonist dives into the fantasy world of a virtual reality game and realizes that the fantasy world is actually real as time goes by. The protagonist’s mission is to help the queen and rebuild the parallel world in crisis.

However, unlike cookie-cutter pay-to-win Korean RPG games, where users are forced to compete against each other, Second Country offers an emotionally pleasing journey, something rare amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Playing it feels like watching a well-made Studio Ghibli film like “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Spirited Away” or “Howl’s Moving Castle,” because the game itself is based on Ni no Kuni series, which are developed by the Japanese animation studio.

Second World: Cross Worlds screenshots (Second World: Cross Worlds)
Second World: Cross Worlds screenshots (Second World: Cross Worlds)

Though it takes place in the medieval Western world of kingdoms and kings, the world is reinterpreted in a distinctive Ghibli style with abundant visuals of lush greenery and peaceful landscapes.

The fascinating visuals are amplified by soothing sound tracks played throughout the game. The fairytale-like melodies are actually composed by Joe Hisaishi who produced music for Studio Ghibli’s most successful animations.

Netmarble launched Second Country in five Asian regions and countries only -- Macao, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Taiwan -- but this game might be the key to its global expansion, as the game easily transcends cultural boundaries through the soft power of Studio Ghibli.

Second Country also overcomes the limits of a typical mobile game through diversity of characters. In a typical RPG game, users are visually fatigued because all the human characters are wearing similar outfits. In Second Country, however, there are humans, cats, rats and dogs wearing colorful costumes, and there is no room for boredom. 

Second World: Cross Worlds screenshots (Second World: Cross Worlds)
Second World: Cross Worlds screenshots (Second World: Cross Worlds)

During quests, when users travel from point A to point B, which usually takes about 20 to 30 seconds, Second Country fills the silence with chit-chat between sub-characters. The dialogues done by voice actors keep users engaged and drive off the urge to exit the game and turn on YouTube instead.

All in all, Second Country: Cross Worlds could match market expectations for average daily sales of 880 million won, heralding Netmarble’s return to double-digit operating margin.

Even if it doesn’t, it would still be a perfect appetizer for Netmarble’s new games to come in the second half -- Seven Knights Revolution, MARVEL Future Revolution, BTS Dream and Merge Kuya Island.

By Kim Byung-wook (

Time to Play is a review of new game releases. Kim Byung-wook is a staff reporter at The Korea Herald and a hardcore Fifa Online 4 user with 456 friendly match wins. He has also played StarCraft 2 Zerg and once ranked diamond. He is currently a captain in the first-person shooter game Sudden Attack and the owner of a level 184 Soul Master in role-playing game MapleStory. Kim still plays Football Manager 2017. -- Ed.

By Kim Byung-wook (