GOTD – Uncharted Waters: New Horizons

Uncharted Waters: New Horizons – Simulation / Strategy (SNES/GEN/PC)
Koei (Eiji Fukuzawa)

Another product of the innovation from Koei that resulted in Gemfire and Aerobiz, Uncharted Waters may have been partially inspired by Pirates! from Sid Meier. Much of the interface is the same, several of the themes are the same – but Uncharted Waters improves on Pirates! in several ways.

While Pirates! and similar games are all about attacking others, Uncharted Waters takes a less aggressive approach. While you can attack ships randomly, and become a pirate, that’s only one aspect of the game. The original Uncharted Waters had you as the son of a great merchant who died at sea during a storm several years ago. You start off in Lisbon in the 16th century, with little money and only a vague idea of what to do.

The second game, New Horizons, has more guidance, several major improvements, and a good deal more content. You choose one of six characters, each of whom has a different background and goal, and you try to achieve that goal. You have more or less as much time as you want, and a considerable amount of freedom with which to pursue your dreams.

Although each character has a specific path to take, the game tells you – in most cases – where to go next, but there’s really no rush. If you want to start off and trade your way to a fleet of several Galleons before reaching the next plot point, you can do that (although it would take a while). This non-linearity of ordinary gameplay is what makes this game play so well.

In addition to this, the game has a great plot, along with a good translation. Some characters are more involved with the central plot than others, but the plots of each character intertwine in a very satisfying way. Though it may confuse you as to what to do sometimes, it’s not a difficult game to finish.

I recommend this game particularly if you like open-endedness or trading sims. It’s one of the best ones out there.


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