The character selection screen
Six unique quests provide high replay value

   Koei, mostly known for their strategy RPGs such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms and complex simulation games, also released another little known RPG series called Uncharted Waters. Uncharted Waters is probably so obscure because it is a sailing RPG. The first game was good in its own right, although the plot was fairly weak, but the second game was far better. The gameplay was drastically improved without making it too complicated, and now the player could choose from six characters to use, each with their own quest and their own story. Although each character sails the same seas, their paths are drastically different.

   Ali Vesas is a trader from Istanbul, out to make a fortune. Otto Baynes is an English privateer, who is eventually is called upon to defeat the Spanish Armada. Catalina Erantzo is a pirate, forced to betray her country to find the killers of her brother and her fiancé. Ernst Van Bohr is a Dutch cartographer, asked by his friend Mercator to help him make a map of the world. Pietro Conti is an Italian adventurer out to repay his family's debts by finding rare treasures. Finally, Joao Franco is the son of the hero of the first game, and he sails to prove himself and to find the secret of the lost city of Atlantis. In adition to these six characters, each of them has a first mate, all of whom are very likable and interesting characters. Remarkably, each of these characters has a better developed story than the single plotline of the first game, and they all intertwine with each other. Events that you see in one quest might happen in another one as well; but only from a different point of view.

 Sailing the seven seas
This game helped me win the Geography Bee

   But even with the expanded plot, most of your time is spent doing what a Commodore does: sailing. The game doesn't fall short here either. Although each character has a suggested course to take, and must follow it at least somewhat, nothing is going to stop you from pursuing your own path to fame. You can easily make Catalina the pirate into a merchant, or buy the greatest armor and sword for Ali and have him take down pirates, or even other merchants if you'd prefer. Just don't sink a ship from your home country, or they might not let you into their ports anymore.

   If you decide to make your living peacefully by trading, then you have a number of things to deal with. Naturally, you must buy low and sell high, but things are not always that simple. Prices reflect the activity on trade routes. Buying too much from one port raises the prices, whereas selling a lot lowers prices. After unloading a few hundred lots of Istanbul carpets in Athens, they won't want to pay nearly as much for them. Conversely, if you buy lots of artwork in Athens, they will start to charge more. These prices are not always absolute, however. A smart captain, or a captain with a first mate who's skilled at negotiation will be able to barter with merchants to get substantially lower prices. In addition you may buy an expensive Tax Free Permit from the king of a country to escape all taxes for about a half year. Although its cost is high, it just might be worth it if you like to trade a lot. Finding a good bookkeeper will also assist you by providing a listing of buying and selling prices in ports you have visited.

Catalina lays down the smack
Catalina lays down the smack on a merchant

   Adventuring or cartography are two other peaceful paths. Both involve sailing off into the unkown. As a cartographer you will be mostly interested in mapping uncharted waters, but adventurers will be on the lookout for hidden villages and the treasures or fabled monsters they contain. Just remember to keep some extra food on your ship, because villagers always search for treasure better on a full stomach.

Each port is complete with its own beautiful bar maid
The serene port of Lisbon

   Those who take a violent route to success will have to worry about entirely different things. Will you try to out-gun enemy fleets by purchasing massive ships with over a thousand crew members? Or will you decide to take on the enemy captain in a one on one duel? A massive fleet is hard to buy and even harder to maintain, but a duel is risky, and can also be very deadly if you don't buy the proper equipment. Although any old armor and sword will do, to stand a chance you will have to buy the best, whether it is a well-made rapier from France or a powerful katana from far-off Japan. But to find the very best, you have to know the infamous item shop secret. The only way to discover it is to talk to a wandering person in an obscure Mediterranean port, who informs you that all item shops are open at 2 AM, and may sell special items. Although this hardly makes good business sense, it is always exciting to explore distant ports in search of exotic items.

   All of these diverse paths to follow and the above average plot of New Horizons make it quite enjoyable, as well as being refreshingly innovative. If you're interested in a new type of gaming expereince, don't pass this game up. It's easily worth it to rent, if not to buy.

Retrospective by Arpad Korossy, GIA.
Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons
Developer Koei
Publisher Koei
Genre Simulation
Medium Cartridge
Platform SNES
Release Date

FAQ, hints, item locations, etc.
57 screen shots
12 character sketches, 3 manual pictures, promotional poster, and map
Manual cover art