A game made by the Koei company and set in the Age of Exploration in Europe. It was released on the PC, Nintendo (Famicom) and Super Nintendo (Super Famicom) and Sega Master System. On a personal note, this game and it's sequel are almost exclusively two of my favorite games ever. Starting the game you get certain base stats and can then assign points to them. You arrange your character how you wish (generally your style will change after playing the game once).

You start as a young captain from a penniless, but noble, family out to prove his worth, and coincidently in love with the Princess of Portugal. Your family left you in debt, but you have managed to work your way up and can now afford a small ship. You sail from the port of Lisbon, in Portugal, intent on making your way in the world. Whether your destination is north to England and the Scandinavian countries, or south to Spain and the Mediterranean does not matter, for you have begun.

You goal is to sail to different ports and to sell goods at a high price and buy at a low price. Saving up money as you go. This seems like it could get pretty boring, but is actually fun. For, as you save money you buy better ships and begin to brave further. You could sail west to the new world, or south then east to the mystical lands of the far east. Storms, pirates, Spanish and Turkish privateers and even mystical events can get in your way.

Whatever your course, you will occasionally be working for the king. As you are more successful, your rank will raise. Slowly the true game begins to unfold before you. You can become a privateer preying on your enemies, the Spanish or Turkish sailors, or you can be a peaceful trader. If your relations with Spain or The Ottoman Empire falls to low though, you may find yourself blocked out of ports, only able to sneak in occasionally, and praying you don't get caught.

Coincidently, you can block your enemies from ports yourself. By investing in the ports, you raise their support for Portugal and improve their economy. By investing in their trade you improve the amount and value of goods they sell, and by investing in their ship building you get them to build better ships. Maybe you will even invest in the right ports and gain access to the great Galleon, the biggest baddest moffo of a ship out there, or the frigate, the perfect pirating vessel.

Whatever happens, you will be attempting to gain riches and rank. Where will you end up? And will the princess finally take notice of you? It all lies before you, in the Uncharted Waters.

This game, due to the popularity it gained well after it's release, is still available through Ebay. If you can't find it, or afford it, try looking for a Rom Image of it at an Emulation or Abandonware site.

Thanks to amib for reminding me to state that the series went beyond two games. While Uncharted Waters II: New Horizons was also released in the US, the second and third games never made it here.

It bears stressing that Uncharted Waters was a VERY open-ended game world, one of the largest game worlds of its time and filled with the most and varied opportunities. Its voluntary mission-based game play foretells games such as the Grand Theft Auto series. It is a direct bridge between 1st generation videogames and the current.

Its heritage is certainly text-based commerce games. UC didn't break 100% new ground, but it did meld the text-based trading commerce econo-puzzle (which lives on in incarnations like Drug Dealer) with graphical exploration and naval combat (a la Broadsides), plus the completely voluntary actions-based choice of different roles/personas through which to amass your wealth.

What differentiates this game from other world exploration and adventure games of its time (such as the Ultima series) is that the only overarching quest as such was to get rich, and thereby marry the Princess. No demons to destroy, no worlds to save. You weren't 'punished' for not getting rich, you just didn't retire as wealthy as you could have, and without the company of the Princess. The game put faith in the player to find his/her own path through game life; the journey became the reward.

Revised on 03/14/03

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