Exploration (also known as Voyages of Discovery and Christoph Kolumbus in Germany) is a simulation strategy game designed by Software 2000 in 1994.
It is a fun game of exploration from Interactive Magic but the game attempts nothing that we haven't seen before since the days of Seven Cities of Gold or Colonization: a combination of trading, exploration, war, and economics elements set in the age of exploration.
Exploration is a strategy-simulation game set during the Age of Sail. From the time of Vasco da Gama and Columbus (the late 1400s) to the French Revolution (1789), you are put in charge of a nation's imperial destiny. This means financing voyages, assembling crews, sending out land and sea expeditions, founding colonies, and occasionally engaging other European powers for global dominance...
Exploration may seem familiar to players of Civilization, Colonization, Conquest of the New World, Gold of the Americas, and even Sid Meier's Pirates!, as they borrow from exploration and cover a similar topic.
You can play against up to four computer or human (via network options) opponents. The main goal of this game, as is in most strategy games of this kind, is to either annihilate or do better than your opponents. In Exploration, this is accomplished by exploring the world with sailing vessels, finding other neutral civilizations and either conquering or befriending them, and developing a good economic base by trading with these new alliances. War is also another option, but one that should be avoided at all costs because it tends to reduce your meager assets. Success in the game relies on laying efficient and profitable trade routes between your colonies and your home port.
As time passes, new and bigger ships become available for you to lay longer routes. You can also send expedition groups on shore. These units have the ability to either conquer or befriend the natives they meet. Random elements such as disease, starvation, and fires must also be dealt with. After you have founded a few colonies and established some trade routes, the game becomes quite repetitive and there is no 'meta-goal' (such as declaring Independence in Colonization) to alleviate the tedium.
Another weak point in Exploration is the tedious user interface that forces you to click on multiple screens to get to the option you want. There are not many shortcut keys you can use to jump quickly to common actions, and the graphics are for the most part too drab and blocky. One of the game's few redeeming values is the relatively high replay value thanks to random maps, but this isn't much help when the game as a whole is rather repetitive.