Through the Nostalgia Filter
I picked this game up for the Super Nintendo way back when as a used title – it was one of my first purchased titles. Tecmo-Koei marketed this game a the ultimate role-playing game so it immediately caught my eye – as a lot of games did in that era that marketed themselves in the same way. In this naval exploration simulator, you choose one of six characters, one of which has ties to the previous title in the franchise. From there, you’re given a little background and a bit of advice to take with you on your travels. After that, you’re pretty much on your own – that’s where this game initially appealed to me: you had a roundabout mission but it was completely up to you on how to accomplish that. You had the entire world at your disposal.
This was a bit of a problem, however; unlike games like Pirates! that had give this type of game the treatment it deserved, this game attempted to simplify and refine that experience at the same time which, as you can imagine, was met with meager results. Playing this game, way back when I first got it, I can remember getting really excited in the first hour or so of play and then getting bored after about an hour of wandering and micromanaging; it was starting to feel like one of those educational games that really had no point but to force information and trivia down your throat that you would otherwise have not participated in.
It was just one of those games that I couldn’t commit to before I even entered my teens. It just didn’t feel exciting or engaging enough. Little did I know what I was missing out on by not giving it a proper chance…
I’ve got to say, I kind of wish I would have given this game more of a chance back when I first played it. While it is extremely slow to get going, the dialogue is paltry, the graphics are poor – even for that time – and the story is dry, there is a lot more to offer after plodding through the initial portion of the game. It’s a real shame, too, because I didn’t come back to this game until well after I’d found better, more popular games that did what this game does much, much better.
Got to hand it to this game, though, for it’s somewhat less about the “in the movies” version of sailing the seven seas and more about what I would imagine realistic sailing would have been in the era depicted in the game. Not everyone gets swept up in a journey of grandiose proportions within a matter of days like it seems a lot of games are – sometimes it takes days, weeks, months, even years in order to get anywhere and that’s what this game is about. Once it gets going and you’ve gotten a handle on trade, supplies, crew, ships, and so on and so forth, you get introduced to some of the more exciting aspects such as battle between ships and crew. By that time, the story for each character starts unfolding, too.
One of the larger things that brought me back to this game was its soundtrack: one of the shining moments of this game, written by none other than Yoko Kanno. You might not remember that name right off the hop but you might if I mention one of her more popular works – Cowboy Bebop. Yeah, you wouldn’t think it was one and the same but the quality in the music shows and it was at its best on the Super Nintendo version of this game. I had heard a tune somewhere that instantly reminded me of the overworld theme from this game; I had to give it another go, if only for nostalgia value alone.
I wouldn’t imagine many people remember this game and even fewer people have ever played it but I did enjoy it a little and it’s always good for a brief revisit.