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Uncharted Waters: New Horizons

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Reviewed by T. Aardvark New Horizons is an RPG based on 1500's Earth, in which you play one of 6 captains of a fleet. The quest you undertake depends on who you choose; you can only play one at a time. The choices include an Italian explorer looking for El Dorado, a Dutch mapmaker looking to chart the entire world, a Portuguese prince looking for Atlantis, a Spanish female Pirate looking to avenge her lovers death, a British admiral attempting to rout the Spanish, and a Turkish trader out to dominate world markets for Turkey. All of these characters start with one small ship and minimal supplies and staff, and throughout the game you must attempt to gain more and better ships, better crew, equipment, weapons and supplies to succeed. Depending on your person, you will be sent on various missions by your King/Queen, and will have to perform certain tasks to meet your goals. Any of the characters can trade exotic goods, find lost artifacts and odd creatures, and invest money in foreign shipworks and trading posts in the name of your patron.

Graphics 3 out of 5

The graphics were average for Super NES, the characters themselves looked kind of lame. Good portraits of main characters that popped up during conversations added a little to their reality.

Music and Sound 3 out of 5

Again, average for Super NES, a few of the tunes were annoying and repetitive. Cities in each region have music appropriate to them (i.e. Asian ports have Asian music, Arabian ports have Arab music, etc.). This gave a believable atmosphere to the game. Each character had a different tune played while sailing, which added some depth to the game.

Game Challenge 2.5 out of 5

Although there were many puzzles to solve, the game gave overwhelming hints as to where to find things. If you were looking for a lost village for example, you could go to a scholar and he would give you the position of the village!! There was little peril on the high seas; if you had enough food and water and sailors, the worst that could happen was a storm, and even those could be displeled with a potion! The battles were tough, but easily avoided as you could see ships coming from a distance.

Game Play-Fun 2 out of 5

As I said above, the challenge in solving puzzles was minimal, so most of the time you spent simply going to a suggested location to carry out a mission. If you played the admiral or the pirate, you could attack other fleets, which was fun!!

Frustration

1. Endless periods of banter between characters when a certain twist of the plot occurred. 2. Frequent storms in some areas that slow progress. 3. In a battle, you could only control the actions of your own ship; the others in your fleet were run by the computer. This prevented you from using strategy to it's fullest advantage. 4. Long waiting periods between plot turning-points.

Replayability 2.5 out of 5

Since there are 6 quests, you can replay it six times!! Once you complete a quest, playing it again is boring, as you already know where things are and what to expect. If you like trading, you can trade different goods than in a previous game, or try out different makes of ships. Also, you can seek out secret villages in remote areas that have odd artifacts or creatures in them. It doesn't take long, however, to exhaust all the options and get bored.

Game Value 2.5 out of 5

I paid $30.00 for this game, and it did give me some enjoyment, but I'm disappointed in the replayability and bored with it.

Realism 1.5 out of 5

Although historical details on ship models, towns, rulers and such were accurate, the lack of peril on the high seas made this game seem silly. For example, you could sail around the north pole in December without seeing one iceberg!! You can sail from Spain to Brazil in 6 game days, when in reality it would take months. The peril just doesn't seem up to the huge magnitude of the quests. Not only that, but some of the plots are sickly-set and unbelievable; the Turkish trader, for example, spends the game building up a fortune, helping to fund the takeover of Europe by Turkey, helps the Turks gain a huge fleet to attack and kill European ships, and then, in the end, gives away all his money to buy an orphanage!! The mapmaker, after you sail him around all the continents, produces a perfect map that looks exactly like a modern-day one!! These kind of tack endings and effects destroy any sense that you are a true sailor in the 1500's.

Overall 2.7 out of 5

A diverse range of characters, ships, and goods makes this game interesting at first, but the tacky plots and lack of challenge will ultimately disappoint you, regardless of weather you like history or not.

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