Bigben Interactive has signed a distribution deal with American publisher Agetec that will see keenly sought after Japanese oddity Zettai Zetsumei Toshi appear in the west under the name SOS: The Final Escape. All right, admittedly the name is complete nonsense, but Irem Software's title - a game about escaping the wreckage of a natural disaster - was hailed as one of the most original and delicately realised games of this year. Importers have made a tidy sum keeping avid fans on both sides of the Atlantic equipped with copies, and rightly so.
Zettai Zetsumei Toshi, or SOS: The Final Escape as we'll have to start calling it, begins as a massive earthquake shakes a Japanese city, ripping it to shreds in the space of less than a minute. The player is a blue-jacketed victim stranded on a collapsing bridge that joins the mainland to the island city, and after watching the last rescue chopper obliviously ferry survivors away in his stead, he has to work his way out of the situation and escape, all the while managing his water levels and looking after other survivors.
The gameplay is sufficiently obvious that the dialogue is a nice extra and quite ignorable, and there's a lot of intelligence and nail-biting built into the game design, with the ground collapsing beneath the player as he leaps onto a narrow ladder, cars and buses slipping off the edge of bridges with people trapped inside, and vital objects to retrieve from impossible places. Put simply, SOS: The Final Escape is a very complicated three-dimensional puzzle with many solutions, and Bigben Interactive hopes to have it on the shelves of European retailers by the end of November. It's a lot more worthy of your cash than most of the games due out in the run-up to Christmas.