Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / SOS

Go To
It's true! They do send out an SOS.

This is to be the largest passenger shipwreck to date.
There are a reported 2300 passengers aboard. The voyage will turn from ecstasy to catastrophy.
The ship is in total chaos. Passengers and crew alike begin to panic, as they near the grip of death.
Now, the real tragedy begins...

SOS, known in Japan as Septentrion (セプテントリオン), is Cinematic Platform Adventure Game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System developed by Human Entertainment and released in 1993. Known as Septentrion in Japan, the U.S. version was released by Vic Tokai. Basically take The Poseidon Adventure and turn it into a side-scrolling platformer and this is what you'll end up with. The Lady Crithania capsizes during a storm and it's up to you to escape with your life. Along the way you will encounter other passengers and crew who you must try to rescue... or not. You have to escape within one real life hour or it's game over.

You play as one of four adult males trying to escape. Each character starts in a different part of the ship, and must rescue a certain person or people to get their good ending. Depending on your character's personality, passengers may come with you right away or refuse to come along at all; you must balance time spent rescuing people with time spent escaping. In general, the more people rescued, the better the ending. With the exception of drowning, the only penalty for getting hurt is to lose five minutes from your remaining escape time, which is also the only time you get to see how much time you have left.


If all this sounds familiar, games such as Dead Rising, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII draw heavy inspiration from this game and expand on its ideas. The most apparent is that losing the game or getting a bad ending is entirely possible and all too easy. However, this allows players to replay the game with more information than you had before and can lead to better playthroughs and endings, where the meat of SOS's depth lies.

The game was hardly advertised at the time and not very popular. However, it's a very innovative spin on the Survival Horror genre, especially for its time, and is worth a look at at the very least. There's also a Japan-only sequel, Septentrion: Out of the Blue, released in 1999 for the PlayStation, but wasn't as well received due to the lack of the mechanics that made SOS stand out and throwing in a conspiracy into the mix.


Tropes associated with SOS:

  • Artificial Stupidity: People in your group, once called, will all take the same path in the same way, even if that involves jumping to their death after seeing someone else do it or just getting stuck in the floor for five seconds before continuing normally.
  • Backtracking: If you are dedicated to saving certain people, you must sometimes go away from the exit to get to them.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Depending on who your character is and who else you rescue (if any), you don't always end up surviving even after you “get out”, though some other people may survive. If you see the ending picture have a dark red sky, you've got a bittersweet ending.
  • Blackout Basement: After 30 minutes, the ship's sinking speeds up and the power goes out on the upper (now lower) decks.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: If the opening text didn't tip you off, the translation is spotty. Hell, someone's surname is mistranslated at the end of the game.
  • Boring, but Practical: There are a lot of passengers to rescue with quite a ship to explore. However, the best ending requires the player to have rescued 25 points worth of passengers and their key passenger. Most players find themselves going for the passengers who come in groups of 2-3 because it's quicker and these passengers usually give a good amount of points when rescued together. The only exceptions are Francoise&Mary Maxwell (Who are separated, but Mary is worth the most points) and Jack Hamilton (who is required for Redwin, but not for anyone else, and is worth 5 points.)
  • Controllable Helplessness: If you're still conscious when your time limit runs out, the ship will plummet into the depths and the interior will flood completely, leaving you to swim in your sinking grave for about thirty seconds before drowning.
  • Cool Old Guy: Jeffrey Howell is a doctor in his sixties, yet can still jump, swim, and save survivors as well as anyone else. Redwin Gardner also counts, though downplayed since he's in his near-forties.
  • Crouch and Prone: You're required to crouch to get through small areas.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: The staterooms.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: You can take some time talking to random passengers at the beginning, a few minutes before the disaster unfolds. There's a surprising amount of content for something that is so short and completely optional.
  • Downer Ending: Sometimes no one survives the rescue. If you see that the ending picture has a black sky, you've got a bad ending.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: If you want to get the best ending for each respective character, you'll have to escort many people to the engine room, as well as save one (or more) critical characters per individual.
  • Escort Mission: The whole point of the game.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Played straight and averted. Straight in that people in your group are immune to some things that would cause you to lose 5 minutes, like fire and falling chairs, but averted in that they are not immune to falling or drowning.
  • Guide Dangit:
    • Some of the survivors are very well hidden, and won't come with you if you don't do certain acts in a very specific way. There's also a dialog scene before the boiler room where you will lose all the survivors if you don't answer it correctly.
    • Each person has has a score value assigned to them. If you want the better endings, you'll have to rescue people that give you a higher score, since you can only escort up to 7 people maximum. And no, the game won't tell you who gets what score.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted. You can rescue children, and they can die if you are not careful.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: You have one hour in real time to escape the ship. After the thirty minute mark, the ship starts sinking. This makes the lower parts of the map flooded and without power. Due to this, some people can't be rescued; however, others can only be rescued after it.
  • Interface Screw: The ship will list to and fro at fixed intervals, changing the accessibility of certain areas. The lights can also go out and intense heat can cause the screen to shimmer.
  • It's Up to You: The rest of the people on the ship are perfectly happy to sit in one place as the ship fills up with water around them. Only you can convince them to actually try to get out.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: If you run out of time, it's not an instant Game Over. Instead, the ship sinks completely and immediately fills itself with water, forcing you to give up the game, all while somber music reminds the player of their unavoidable death.
  • Large Ham: Redwin at times.
  • Marathon Level: There's no save system, you have to beat the game in one go. Fortunately, a playthrough can only last an hour.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on who your character is, who you rescue, and if you've rescued enough people.
  • Never Say "Die": Characters don't "die" in this game, they "perish".
  • Optional Character Scene: Marie/Mary and her mother. Jack and his cousins. Luke and the captain. Capris and his sister. There are a lot of them.
  • Palette Swap: You'll encounter many dead passengers on the ceiling (now the floor) who look the same except for the color of their hair and clothes. Sometimes even passengers in your group will exhibit this.
  • Point of No Return: The boiler room.
  • Rule of Drama: Some characters will flat-out refuse to leave their position or do something about their situation for several reasons that defy common sense. One character in particular won't try to save himself because he lost a violin. A violin.
  • Run, Don't Walk: Averted. You can't run, you just move at a brisk walk.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: Averted. You get the choice of 4 playable characters, and once you pick one, the remaining 3 become rescuable survivors.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: The Game.
  • Soft Water: You can fall any distance, and as long as you land in water, you'll survive, even if the screen has already gone black before you cannonball.
  • Timed Mission: You have one real-life hour to save as many survivors as you need to and get out of the ship.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The more people you rescue, the higher your score. Some special mentions of note:
    • Francoise&Mary Maxwell, a mother and daughter
    • The Smith family, a father, mother, and their daughter
    • Jack Hamilton, a child who is rescuable by everyone
    • Jeffrey and Adela, who can be rescued together even if Jeffrey is not the player character.
    • Anna and Frank, a nurse and one of her patients.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you decide everyone for themselves, or only get your required passenger and rush to the end? You definitely get punished with a bad ending. Sometimes you get called out by the characters.
  • Visible Silence: All the time in your conversations with passengers.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • A good way to get through the Boiler room without having to escort the passengers? Just go to the end and let yourself get hit by a hazard. This causes the passengers to teleport right behind you so you can easily take them out.
    • Some passengers are worth more than others. If you don't like any particular passengers because they aren't worth a lot? Just find a way to toss them to their doom.