Review: Uncharted Waters: New Horizons (SNES)

Look forward to new horizons

Koei released quite an arsenal of strategy titles during the 16-bit era, many of them on the Super Nintendo console. While the original Uncharted Waters laid the foundation, its sequel New Horizons picked up right where it left off and managed to add quite a few new game play ideas to the mix to form one of the most in-depth and unique strategy titles available for the console. But for those expecting a standard RPG experience, you'd better know that Uncharted Waters: New Horizons might look and sound like an RPG, but once you get past these few RPG elements, you'll find a strategy title that has an almost endless amount of freedom in the way the game can be played.

When you begin the game, you must select one of six characters for your adventure. Each character has a different background, not to mention story line, so you can technically enjoy the game from six different perspectives. You'll even meet up with a few of the other characters throughout your adventure as all of their stories are carefully interwoven. Once you've selected your character and you've been given your objective, you must then purchase supplies for your journey, as you'll have to feed your crew if you're to keep them alive and running your ship.

The main gameplay elements in New Horizons are the ocean voyages you'll be constantly embarking on. You'll have to travel from port to port, buying and selling various products in order to turn a profit. You can also earn money by taking on various errands, or you can resort to piracy and attack other ships in order to steal all their money. The choice is yours and it's this almost unlimited freedom that makes playing the game so much fun and such a tailor-made experience.

While many of the game play elements in New Horizons have a very RPG-like feel to them, it's the strategy elements that take center stage in the game. The actual battles that take place are carried out much the same way they are in other 16-bit era strategy releases. The game even manages to add in a bit more variety by featuring many simulation elements as well, such as having to manage your food supply and maintain your ship. About the only complaint some gamers might have with the experience is that it can be almost too in-depth for some who are expecting a more streamlined RPG experience. But if you like your games with a lot of real-life characteristics or you're someone who takes pleasure in being able to micromanage, New Horizons should be right up your alley.

Just as was the case with the original, the visuals are certainly nothing to get overly excited about. They're actually very reminiscent of the visuals found in such early Super NES RPG releases as Final Fantasy II and Secret of the Stars, but they still get the job done quite nicely. The musical score, while catchy enough early on, tends to get a bit repetitive since you'll be hearing the same basic tune until you're able to reach a different continent, at which time you'll finally be treated to a new musical track. The entire audio/visual experience is fairly basic, especially when compared to some of the more impressive Super Nintendo RPG musical scores, but you'll soon find out that epic soundtracks and flashy visuals aren't what this game is about anyway.

Conclusion

Uncharted Waters: New Horizons is a very unique strategy release for the Super Nintendo console that takes the standard RPG formula and coats it with many layers of additional strategy and simulation game play elements to form a very unique playing experience for those who are willing to take on the many intricacies that come along with it. But if you're looking for a more traditional RPG experience, this game might prove to be too much of a handful for you. Either way, it's still a great strategy title from a company that is so well known for them.

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