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Your name is Kevin Codner – rescue mariner extraordinaire, answering the distress call of a sinking cruise liner, the SS Lucifer. You set off in your little submarine and board the ship where a horde of passengers desperately need your keen oversight and "shipsmarts".

In 60 levels you have to rescue as many passengers (dubbed the Dim Passengers) as possible. At the beginning the passengers fall through a tube in the level. Similar to Lemmings you have to find a way for the passengers to the exit of the level. In order to do so, you must blast hindrances such as cargo boxes and bulkheads with bombs or, when no bombs are left, reposition the boxes with a crane. There are also conveyor belts in the levels. If the belt moves in the wrong way, the passengers either can't use it or may even be transported to their dooms, being dropped off into water, fire or steam jets. You can usually choose the direction of the belts by pulling a lever.

There are several types of scenarios that Kevin Codner (you) are faced with throughout the game. Of course the puzzles get progressively more difficult, involving things like patching up cracked pipes to stop a lethal jet of steam from cooking the distressed passengers. You can blast away obstacles and stack crates in creative manners. For instance, you can have them fall onto each other to form a bridge across a gap or to provide shielding from fire. This is usually done by hoisting them onto conveyor belts using a crane.

Each level has a certain "save limit", meaning you have to save at least a certain amount of passengers. This again is akin a bit towards Lemmings, and lots of levels have a built-in time limit, represented by water pouring into the compartment, rising ominously. When the water rises high enough, the passengers will get carried along with it, and they can only swim for a short period of time before getting exhausted and drowning, so you'd better be on time with some assistance.

At the end of each level you receive a password (again, Lemmings-style) so that you may pick up your game from the current level without having to progress through them all from the get-go.

Genesis and SNES versions feature 100 levels. Also, the Genesis version shows a password only once in 5 levels starting from level 5. Although the passwords for each level actually exist, they are never given by the game.


Sink or Swim Genesis Level 2
Sink or Swim Amiga Level 2 is in a different part of the ship. It is freezing down here!
Sink or Swim Game Gear Main title screen
Sink or Swim Genesis Backgrounds change reguarly

Promo Images

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Alternate Titles

  • "S.S. Lucifer: Man Overboard!" -- Title on Sega systems
  • "S.O.S.: !!הצילו" -- Hebrew spelling
  • "S.O.S.: Sink or Swim" -- SNES Title
  • "Man Overboard!" -- Sega Title (unreleased)

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User Reviews

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Critic Reviews

Mean Machines Game Gear Nov, 1994 89 out of 100 89
WIZ DOS Apr, 1994 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Amiga Format Amiga Jun, 1993 73 out of 100 73
Amiga Computing Amiga Jul, 1993 66 out of 100 66
Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) SNES Dec, 1994 32 out of 50 64
Mega Fun Genesis Oct, 1994 63 out of 100 63
Mega Force Game Gear Oct, 1994 60 out of 100 60 Genesis Jan 23, 2006 6 out of 10 60
Computer and Video Games (CVG) SNES Jun, 1996 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
Amiga Power Amiga Jun, 1993 68 out of 100 32


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This game took 9 or 10 months of hard development.


Sink or Swim's main characters are Kevin Codner and the 'Dim Passengers'. Kevin Codner is an obvious Kevin Costner spoof, but 'Dim Passengers is a Kim Basinger pun which fails due to the actual pronunciation of Kim's name - 'Dim Pay-Singers' would be much closer to her real name - they could've set the game on a cruise ship to allow for that.


According to Andrew Drake who founded Odysseus Software (original developer of Sink or Swim for Amiga) they never received any royalties for the game. Despite this fact he was offered the chance to port the game over to the PC but refused because he couldn't afford to buy one.

Information also contributed by B.L. Stryker
Contributed to by B.L. Stryker (23137), Martin Smith (74102) and Accatone (5318)