Trauma Center: Under the Knife
Though the board game’s popularity has been on the wane for almost as long as the video game’s has been on the ascendant, some of you might yet recall Operation - and in the process, fond memories of a time when "fun" was using a pair of plastic forceps to remove all sorts of crap from what’s presumably meant to be a mental patient who tried to swallow the world. The 21st century might have forgotten how much fun this stuff is or maybe video games didn’t give it much of a choice but either way, Trauma Center is a fitting tribute.
What it does (and does really, really well) is transpose the appeal of Operation into something the same-said 21st century audience wouldn’t mind playing, by adding scalpels, lasers, sutures and sedatives amongst others – but the real achievement here is that none of these are anymore complicated to use than drawing a line, circle or zigzag. With that said, you'd reckon on it being easy to play and even easier to enjoy but in trying to marry what’s fundamentally a very simple idea with something as complicated as game design, they’ve kinda fucked it up a bit
Before you piss off down the bottom of the article and read the score, just keep this in mind; it’s far from a disaster. In fact, the thought won’t even occur to you until much later in the game when the difficulty really starts to ramp up and before that, you’ll have more fun playing this than popping bubble wrap or peeling a sticker off of something all in one go - it’s that good.
But not just by the virtues listed above - the context it’s all put into is fittingly absurd for the spiritual successor to Operation. For example, one procedure has you removing a large shard of glass from a patient’s heart (!) and later on, you’ll perform “surgery” on a terrorist bomb. It stands to reason that if the scenarios in the game are as mental as this, there’s an equally mental solution, and when your character (Derek Stiles, I shit you not) inadvertently slows down the passage of time, it’s revealed he has “the healing touch”, which you can use in particularly hairy situations by drawing a pentagram on the screen. As a plot device it’s as mental as the rest of the game’s story but when this game starts taking the piss, you’ll be glad they included it.
One operation might happily take into account your current understanding of the game and push just a little bit harder to make it a challenge, while the next is just as likely to ask for a performance that would render even the most devout singleton a gibbering mess of a cripple. And so, the difficulty in scoring this game comes with reconciling the game design with the idea it tries to accommodate - and as such, Trauma Center's recommended to anybody who ever wanted to be a Doctor but ended up wasting their life on Ninja Gaiden instead.
Look at the time (of this post)! It's late and I'm knackered, so don't bother chewing me out if I've made spelling mistakes or whatever - keep your criticisms to my criticism and we'll all be happy, don't you think? Tara for now!