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 New Horizons might look and sound like an RPG, but once you get past these 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 and 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.
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 graphics 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. The entire audiovisual experience is fairly basic, especially when compared to some of the more impressive Super Nintendo RPGs, but you'll soon find out that epic soundtracks and flashy visuals aren't what this game is about anyway.
While New Horizons has a very RPG-like feel, it's the strategy elements that take centre stage. The actual battles that take place are carried out in much the same way as 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 those who are expecting a more streamlined RPG experience. However, if you like your games with a lot of real-life characteristics or you're someone who takes pleasure in being able to micro-manage, New Horizons should be right up your alley.
Uncharted Waters: New Horizons is a unique strategy release that takes the standard RPG formula and coats it with many additional layers to form a gripping experience — provided you are willing to take on the many intricacies that come along with it. If you're looking for a more traditional RPG offering then this game might prove to be too much of a handful for you, but it remains a fine strategy title from a company that is so well known for them, and being able to play the game on the Wii U GamePad is yet another plus. Just be aware that intricacy and micro-managing come with the territory.