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Uncharted Waters (series)

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Dai5-mainvisual

Daikoukai Jidai V main visual

Uncharted Waters (大航海時代, Dai-kōkai Jidai; Translation: "Age of Exploration") is a historical simulation series first released by Koei in 1990. It is the second entry in the Rekoeition series –a set of simulation titles which incorporate role-playing game elements. It is the only European centric title in the franchise listing, although Söldnerschild Special would follow as a Western-themed fantasy game.

The series's main distinguishing feature is its emphasis on global travel by sea. Eiji Fukuzawa first devised Uncharted Waters to offer "romantic freedom and adventure" during the prime of medieval discovery, granting players the option of choosing their fate through sailing. Like most Koei historical simulations, this means censoring or omitting many of the harsher realities of the era to fit with this theme. He hopes players will continue to experience the same thrill as the first explorers did in any series's entry.

The iconic main theme heard in the opening credits and most promotional trailers for the series was composed by Yoko Kanno.

OverviewEdit

Like the Japanese namesake suggests, the series's historical setting is the Age of Exploration; the player's avatars are original European characters. The first title limits the setting to 1502~1522 with the starting point of Portugal to follow the adventures of Leon Ferrero (Leon Franco in English localization), a sixteen-year old disposed Portuguese aristocrat seeking to reclaim his right to nobility. Succeeding titles change the time setting and beginning area based on the multiple protagonists available for selection; every protagonist has different motivations and traits which may influence unlockable events in each playthrough.

The main objective in most titles is to raise the protagonist's fame, an attribute which can be raised by either being an adventurer, living as a pirate, or by becoming a trader. Adventurers focus on global discovery in the unmapped regions of the known world. Pirates make their gain from combat by looting other ships in the open seas and hunting for treasure. Traders purchase and sell international goods to roughly mimic the Columbian Exchange. The third title focuses primarily on discovery, but the series tends to allow protagonists the choice to excel in one of these three career paths. A protagonist's death in battle and no fame leads to a bad ending, so their survival and reputation must be maintained if the player wishes to clear their story successfully.

Before the protagonist departs from their port, they must first prepare for their journey in town. Food and water supplies must be kept at reasonable levels for any trip or the crew may die at sea. Taverns are the place to recruit crew members to man the protagonist's ships and to hear latest gossip from the barkeep. The protagonist may become drunk if they have too many drinks, so it is often recommended to rest any tired protagonists at the local inn for a day rather than risk sailing. Trade posts provide information regarding international goods and investments; it tends to serve as the main place for learning territorial boundaries. Guilds lets the protagonist sell their goods and provides diplomatic options once the protagonist has established ties with other countries/factions. If a protagonist has obtained enough fame, they may be invited to visit a country's royal palace for an audience and gain political influence.

Shipyards offers customization options for the protagonist's ship. Customizations vary in each entry, yet the three mainstays are alternations to the ship's inventory, active members, and weaponry. Once the player has enough crew members and gold, their protagonist can purchase multiple ships to command their own fleet. Ship models are limited to European sailing ships in the first entry; other titles include various boats from India, China, the Mediterranean, and Japan. The particular historical setting for each game determines which mode of transportation or firearms are for sale.

Wind currents, weather conditions and supplies affect sailing; failing to keep an eye on these factors before reaching a port may prematurely end the game. Players can choose to follow the world map or avoid it in their adventures. The regions available to the player depends on the entry; the fourth main installment diversifies Europe the most and allows them to reach North America, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and parts of Eastern Asia. If the protagonist's fleet encounters pirates or enemy factions, a naval battle can commence. Combat is turn-based on hexagonal grids in most titles with distance playing a key factor in the ship's attacks and defenses.

Since protagonists can experience the era as they deem fit, historical events are sparse in the series. Occasionally, the supporting cast may be modeled after historical figures and may crossover into the Taiko Risshiden series. Protagonists appear or are mentioned in entries following their debut. Various historical or mythological figures appear in the MMORPG and social game adaptation.

Released GamesEdit

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