Daikoukai Jidai (also known as Uncharted Waters) is a popular Japanese video game series produced by Koei as part of its Rekoeition games. In East Asia, the series has a large cult following, but has not received much recognition outside the region. The series has been compared to Sid Meier's Pirates! in gameplay and theme. It is a simulation and role-playing video game series dealing with sailing and trading.
In the games, the player takes up the role of a captain (also called commodore in some translations) and manages a seagoing fleet to participate in trades, privateering, treasure hunting, exploration, and plain piracy. Even though the series is largely open-ended, there is still a loose plot which requires the player to follow certain paths, and deviating from these paths may stall the progress of the story.
Daikoukai Jidai II (aka Uncharted Waters - New Horizons) is perhaps the most famous of the series. Even though an English version exists, it still has not managed to achieve the mainstream popularity Pirates! had. There is only a relatively small following outside of East Asia.
Also set in the 16th century, this game is a sequel to the first title and was released for NEC PC-98, SNES and Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1994. It was the last part of the series to be ported for PC. It also saw releases in 1996 on Sega Saturn and PlayStation in Japan exclusively. The SNES version recently appeared on Nintendo's Virtual Console in Japan on March 17, 2009 and in North America on April 6, 2009.
In this game, there are six protagonists to choose from, each of them representing a different path or career featured in the game. They are listed as follows:
- João Franco: Son of Leon from the first game, a Portuguese explorer sent by his father to follow the family's footsteps and discover the secrets of the lost continent of Atlantis.
- Catalina Erantzo: Former Spanish naval officer turned pirate, she avenges the loss of her brother and her fianceé and suspects that the Franco family is behind this scheme. She is loosely based upon the historical character of Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun.
- Otto Baynes: English naval officer, a privateer sent by Henry VIII in a secret mission to defeat the Spanish Armada and prevent Spanish hegemony in the European continent.
- Ernst von Bohr: Dutch teacher and cartographer, he is set to make a journey to far lands and with this experience create a map of the entire world.
- Pietro Conti: Italian treasure hunter, he inherited a huge debt from his father and is set to travel for treasures and other secrets in order to cover the debt.
- Ali Vezas: Turkish merchant, he grew up as an orphan in extreme poverty. With the help of his friend, he decides to become a trade merchant and find his lost sister.
While the game is more or less open-ended, developing the character's career is necessary to advance the plot.
Regardless of the character chosen, Uncharted Waters: New Horizons is a top-down sailing simulation. At sea, players control the direction of their ship, where speed is affected by the number/health of the crew, the wind and the currents. Players can navigate anywhere there is water (though some ships are not ocean worthy) and discover interesting landmarks and new ports. Upon landing at a port, the view is also top-down and the player can enter different buildings, each with unique services and goods. These include: The Inn, the Item Shop, The Shipyard, The Tavern, The Castle, The Guild Hall, The Church, The Merchant and the Harbor. It's up to the player to earn enough gold to keep the crew fed and financed and keep the fleet repaired. Primary methods of earning money are through sea trade, accepting jobs from the guild, gambling and battle with other ships.
During naval combat, the game becomes a turn-based top-down strategy game, with the player moving ships in order to obtain trajectories needed to fire cannons at enemy ships, or run alongside enemy vessels in order to board them. If the player's flagship attacks the flagship of the enemy fleet, they can challenge the opponent to a duel. If accepted, the game changes to a side-view of the two captains engaged in a fight. During this sequence, the player can only choose which fighting maneuver (strike, thrust, parry, lash) they wish to engage in.