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Thread: Game of the Day 2/23/2016: SOS

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    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Default Game of the Day 2/23/2016: SOS

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    SOS (not to be confused with S.O.S.: Sink or Swim) for SNES is a flawed, but truly interesting experimental disaster survival game that was well ahead of its time. Based loosely on the sinking of the Titanic (but unfortunately for the game, a couple of years early to capitalize on the movie), SOS allows you to choose from several different playable characters, each with their own unique story, but all facing the same dilemma: can they escape the sinking ship? If so, will they selfishly fend for themselves, or try to bring any other survivors along with them?

    The game takes as cinematic of an approach as possible, with cutscenes at pre-set times, and a focus on interacting with other survivors. You have the freedom to wander as you will, talk to anyone you want, help who you want, or do nothing to benefit anyone. For instance, one character has an ill sister on board, and after the capsizing, expresses a desire to save her. He can rush to her, save a doctor on the way, and try to be a hero... or, he can let the doctor fall to his death or just refuse to let him follow, abandon his sister entirely, and make his way off the ship. You can play pretty much however you want. Each character has the opportunity to meet different survivors, and some are truly trying... children with a dead parent, a cocky and annoying musician, a fat ass man who complains too much... some you may truly desire to save.

    That's way easier said than done, as the sinking ship has its terrors to offer. Having turned over, most passengers are already dead, lying about the teetering wreckage. The ship constantly sways and leans at random, using Mode 7 to rotate the screen, which both can help or hinder your movement, giving you an angle to reach a ledge or the ability to scale a vertical wall that is now a 45 degree slope. However, it can work against you in the same way. There are also spreading fires in areas of the boat, and to make matters worse, the ship is sinking. The once upper areas of the ship slowly fill with water, which can allow you to swim to access some areas, but can completely block you from the route you were looking to take if you take too long to get there.

    The bigger enemy of saving anyone, though, is the NPC pathfinding. The control of calling or halting them is simple enough, and I'd liken it to a simplified version of how Abe directs Mudokons in Oddworld... but they sure struggle to get there, and the shifting vessel complicates it further, especially in jumping situations. Couple that with a tense time limit of about an hour, and just escaping becomes daunting, nevertheless trying to save anybody.

    One cool thing, though, is that only in a few situations can you die from in-game action. Instead, a long fall, touching fire, being caught in an explosion, etc. will simply cause you to black out, costing you a few minutes off of your time. It works pretty well, and helps keep you willing to take risks to get yourself out of the cold water.

    SOS is tough. I've only survived completely twice. Once with a pair of survivors, and once by myself, playing as a crew member of the ship. The chastizing ending I received for looking out for myself and abandoning the passengers was pretty brutal, to say the least. Still, while it is frustrating, it is very atmospheric and rewarding to complete, and I really felt tense doing so.

    I really like this one. The 2D graphics remind me of games like Castlevania or Clock Tower, and the theme is utterly unique on the system. It has a 3D PS1 sequel called Septentrion II, but it is far less compelling. My brother and I have spent a few afternoons helping one another navigate the labyrinthine liner, and it's always been a good time, although heavily laden with expletives.

    Played this one?

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    Pac-Man (Level 10) Emperor Megas's Avatar
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    I've never heard of this game and had no idea there were games like this AT ALL, much less for the SNES. I'll definitely be on the look out for this title, and it's sequel.

    Well, I suppose it's not accurate to say I didn't know that there were games like this at all. I mean Dead Rising sort of had the same type of situation. Only with zomibes in a mall.

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    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Megas View Post
    I've never heard of this game and had no idea there were games like this AT ALL, much less for the SNES. I'll definitely be on the look out for this title, and it's sequel.

    Well, I suppose it's not accurate to say I didn't know that there were games like this at all. I mean Dead Rising sort of had the same type of situation. Only with zomibes in a mall.
    It's pretty neat. Those NPCs missing their jumps drive me nutty, but it's got atmosphere in spades. It must be somewhat uncommon I guess, as I've only seen I think three of them over the years, but I don't think there's all that much demand for it, and the only press coverage I ever saw was a brief tip in a Nintendo Power Counselor's Corner. Pretty unique!

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    I remember seeing this one in a store many years ago. It looked really interested but I didn't pick it up at the time for whatever reason. Definitely going to check it out now.

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    FYI, the oceanliner capsizes in SOS, making the game more like The Poseidon Adventure than the Titanic.

    SOS is so depressing, honestly I think it's actually mildly horror-themed. This was from the same company that made Clock Tower a couple of years later.

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