Back in 1972, moviegoers were blessed with The Poseidon Adventure, starring Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine. The entire movie revolves around a group of survivors as they make their way towards the hull, and possibly safety. Along the way, they encounter derision, desperation, and crushing losses, all for the mere hope of survival.
Now imagine that tearful premise packed into a 16-bit cartridge, and you have SOS for Super Nintendo. Developed by Human Entertainment and published by Vic Tokai in North America, SOS gives you the choice between four protagonists, all with their own storylines.
Before disaster strikes, the player is treated with some backstory regarding the character they select. Capris laments over his ill sister, Redwin has too much to drink, Jeffrey reluctantly dances with his wife, and Luke fights with his boss and bigger boss.
And after about 2 minutes, disaster strikes. A giant wave hits the boat, and the player awakens to a world of death and destruction. The ship has capsized and is rapidly filling with water. Bodies litter the floor, the power is going out, and you have exactly one hour to escape. But how, though?
Here, the player has a choice: save others or save yourself? The path to the exit is uncertain and mired with obstacles, and those who you choose to bring with you, the young and the old, are entrusting you with their lives. A jump to far or a pit too deep will most certainly lead to their death, with the sound of their screams and fatal meeting with the floor far below echoing throughout your soul.
Luckily for you, such a fall will only subtract five minutes off of the timer. If that timer runs out, the entire ship fills with water and you have about one minute to find the exit to the boiler room. Once inside, you’re faced with power outages, view-obstructing steam, precarious jumps, and ship-rocking explosions as final obstacles. Getting yourself up to the exit is hard enough, so imagine trying to save the others you brought along with you.
You can rescue a maximum of seven survivors, but some of them require certain conditions to be met before agreeing to go with you. This may require some backtracking on your part, which may or may not be worth it depending on how far along in the runtime you are.
In order to get the best ending, each character has to rescue their key survivor(s) (Capris rescues his sister, Luke rescues his boss, etc.) along with the others. Each survivor you find is worth a specific number of points, with some being more “valuable” than others.
If the total number of points is met or exceeded after you escape with the key survivor(s), congratulations, you just got the mushy Hollywood ending. If not, you are treated with one of less-than-glorious endings, each one more heart-rending than the last the further you go down in rank.
A complete run will take less than an hour, so if you’re looking for big screen action on your SNES, look no further than SOS. Thanks for reading, and Lumpz the Clown OUT!