finally, a non-sequel. finally sat down and finished up the first trauma center game (sub-titled “under the knife“), for DS. there was a lot i enjoyed about the game. i’m not particularly fond of the sight of blood, even in a video game, but the touch-screen controls are intuitive, fun, and work very well.
the game’s problems are fairly well known. first off, by its nature the surgical procedures can get repetitive (e.g. removing tumors), but it’s definitely true that the more you do them the more you’ll master them, and the game’s ranking system does motivate you somewhat to polish your skeelz. a similar kind of game, cooking mama, was way more repetitive, and i wasn’t too bothered by it in this game. another common complaint is that the game is a bit short, and the entire last section (as well as the bonus missions) are all retreads of the same 7 procedures but in harder versions. i wasn’t so keen on that, but i was in the mood for a short game so that didn’t bother me too much either.
the main complaint, though, and one that i agree with to some extent is the variable difficulty. for the most part i was making good progress, until i hit a brick wall with one of the final surgeries that i literally spent hours on. there’s a fair amount of trial and error involved in the game in general, but even aside from that some of the stages’ difficulty levels are just ridiculous. i did finally finish the game, but i had absolutely no motivation to tackle the expert missions. i don’t have much interest in getting S-ranks either (yet another case of a game having a pointless “perfection” mode), but i’m sure there are OCD fans who have revelled in those challenges. the story, characters, and graphics are fine overall, and although they were better than i thought they would be and fit the gameplay they weren’t particularly outstanding, and the music is good in general, although more variety would have been nice.
all in all, definitely an enjoyable DS game, but one that i can easily see as having been bettered by its sequels. i’d already played a bit of the wii-make/expansion before playing the DS version, so i suppose i should go back and finish that before continuing on, despite the vast majority of it being the same. not expecting too much from that version, but if they made the difficulty more reasonable i should be pretty content, given the solid gameplay.
some not-too-dramatic, not-too-traumatic trauma center links:
– walkthrough at strategywiki.org, including difficulty ratings of all the operations
– official site, includes wallpapers
– random page with a couple more wallpapers
– S-rank FAQ at gamefaqs detailing the number of points and amount of time remaining needed