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Sunday, October 10th, 2010 09:40 pm
I'm not sure why, but all of a sudden, I feel like waxing nostalgic about one of my favourite SNES games while growing up...

When I was younger, I usually just rented games; so for the longest time, I only owned 3 games for the SNES: Super Mario World (came with the system), Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, by Koei. Though the last game might not've been as well known as the others, I played it just as much (if not more!) than the others.

I'm not quite sure what made me buy Uncharted Waters: NH in the first place... The graphics weren't very good even back then, and I recall at least one bad review in a gamer magazine...

But it had PIRATES! And ship-to-ship combat! And sword duels! And hidden treasure! And it was set in the Age of Exploration, when you could still discover new lands, and be rewarded for it! And it was AWESOME.

It's funny... I say that I'm not fond of strategy games (apart from Fire Emblem), yet I absolutely loved this one. (But to be fair, this game had RPG and simulation elements, as well.) And I've read reviews that complain how difficult this game is, though I don't recall it being so... Then again, I played it fairly simply, even though it could be a complex game.

Anyways... I suspect the reason I loved this game so much is because one of characters you could play as was a redheaded, female pirate named Catalina Erantzo. Now, there were 6 characters you could play through as (with intersecting storylines), but Catalina was by far my favourite; I think I played as her multiple times before I even touched the other characters. ;P

Catalina's story is pretty cliche, now that I look back on it; her fiance and brother get killed in battle, so she defects from the Spanish Navy to get her revenge. Still, I found her pretty badass at the time... (Plus, she was the only girl you could play as. :/)

And even though her ending doesn't turn out this way, I always wanted Catalina to hook up with her first mate, Emilio; he resigned his commission just to follow her, for goodness sakes! (I've beem tempted to write a story where he finally gets the courage to tell her his feelings; I'd also have him shave his goofy mustache so she'll find him more attractive. XP)

(One last aside about Catalina's playthrough... In the SNES version, there's a line about meeting a "crazy philosopher" in a bar. When I played the PC version years later, he was addressed as a "crazy drunk". I always wondered about that... XD Because of this, I always think of Nintendo as the video game company equivalent of Disney. ;P)

I guess I should get to describing actual gameplay now... You could play as either a pirate (clearly my favourite), an adventurer, a trader, or a cartographer. (Though people usually complain how boring the cartographer storyline is, I actually liked it.)

As a pirate, you had to attack enemy ships to steal their goods, and even take over their ships. The easiest ways to do this was to either sink their flagship, or defeat their captain in a duel. (I usually did the latter, but first you had to actually get close enough to board the flagship, PLUS you had to have enough crew members to overwhelm them.)

Sword fights were handled in a Rock/Paper/Scissors fashion (why am I reminded of the weapon triangle in Fire Emblem...) There are three types of attack/defense combinations: Thrust/Parry, Strike/Dodge and Lash/Block. Each attack is powerful against a particular defense, and you could buy swords that specialized in one of the three combinations. (My personal favourite was the Flamberge, described as a wavy-bladed fencing sword.)

There is an element of luck in sword fighting, however... If you recognized what type of sword your opponent was using, you might be able to predict his moves and counter him; however, if you couldn't, or just got unlucky... Well, let's just say I've reloaded many times after an unsuccessful duel. >.<

As an adventurer, you could explore the world for new discoveries (and get paid for them), or sometimes get treasure maps and find hidden treasure. (I always liked how you had to get the area on the treasure map and your world map to match exactly, in order to find the right place to search.)

As a cartographer, your ultimate goal was to discover the map of the whole world. (I actually enjoyed this, until that last one percent of the map that I couldn't quite uncover, because I would end up being at sea too long and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere... XP)

Being a trader was by far the most boring of the storylines, if I recall... I think I just stuck with maybe two trade routes, in order to get enough fame to keep the storyline moving. (Still, there is some complex gameplay to be had in trading, if you like that sort of thing.)

In addition to this, each character has a different storyline and background; I recall finding all of them interesting and engaging, although some were more developed than others (for example, compared to Catalina's storyline, the English privateer's seemed much shorter).

Then there are the dozens of ships to choose from (depending on your character's goals, some ships are better than others), as well as lots of customization (such as naming your ships, or renaming your characters); you can pick up new crew members to man your ships (just watch their loyalty...)

Also, there are different countries you can be allied to (six for the purpose of this game); but if you say, attack too many of a particular country's ships, you would be forbidden from entering their allied ports.

*stares at wall of text* Huh... I guess this game really is more complex than I thought. XP

On a related topic, I was pleased to find that Uncharted waters: New Horizons has been released as Wii ware. :) I guess it was more popular than I realized...

I do have to mention that I'm also disappointed that the sequels to Uncharted Waters were never released overseas (damn you, Koei!) There's even a Japanese MMO, for goodness sakes... >.<

...I take that back. I just found out that there's an English version of Uncharted Waters Online, now. O_O *stares at the pretty trailer*

To cap this (way too long) post off, here's some of the beautiful music from the Uncharted Waters: New Horizons soundtrack, linked to YouTube. (Composer, Yoko Kanno)

Empty Eyes (Emerald Sea) - This is the music that plays while you're in tropical ports. Never knew it had lyrics (LOL at the broken Engrish, though XD). For me, this version sounds like something you'd hear on a cruise ship.

Land of Luxury - The background music for Oriental ports. (Is it PC to say Oriental these days? :P) Very lovely, though.

The Chase - BG music for ship combat/sword duels. Heard this one A LOT (usually while praying for decent dueling cards to turn up).

Seven Seas - I believe this is the music you hear when you finish the game (sans lyrics in game, of course).

Fiddler's Green (Sailor's Pub) - The BG music while inside a bar. Catchy, isn't it?

Catalina - Catalina's theme, obviously. (I remember hearing the piano part a lot, but I love the Spanish guitar in this version.)

Uncharted Waters 2 Opening - From the Japanese PC version. The English shown in the opening actually isn't that bad (except for in a couple of places, where it's really bad ;P). It's also interesting to note that the character names are a lot more Spanish sounding in the original version...

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to try and remember what the hell happened to my manual for this game (such lovely concept art in it, too). -_-;