Hey all! Last week, I looked at a document simulator. Literally the best way to describe it.
This week, we check out a surgery simulator. Um, okay, it barely simulates actual surgery...but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Trauma Center: Under The Knife is a DS game where you play as a doctor, in case you couldn't tell by the box art. Or the title. As surgeon Derek Stiles, you're tasked with healing patients who've been infected by a radical virus named GUILT.
What this means from a gameplay standpoint is, you'll spend a lot of time looking at things that resemble organs or something, like this:
You have a bunch of different surgical tools at your disposal, and each has their use. This being the DS, they opted to use touch control for everything. So you choose a tool with the stylus and use it with...the stylus. It can be a bit annoying.
You start the game going through routine surgeries, suturing lacerations and pulling glass out of people (due to a car accident, for example). Until eventually, the GUILT virus appears, and that's when things get kinda crazy.
See, GUILT is a parasitic disease; that is, it appears as seven different kinds of, uh, bugs that critter around inside a given patient. They're presented in the form of puzzles, sort of; you have to discover who to tackle each strain. For example, the first kind you encounter, Kyriaki, is a bug-looking thing that crawls around a patient's stomach or liver or whatever, slicing it open periodically.
So, yeah. Ow.
Later on, you run into different strains, requiring increasingly complicated strategies in order to defeat them. Oh, and did I mention, you have to keep the patients' vitals up with periodic injections, and you have to do all this in usually less than five minutes?
Luckily, Derek has the "Healing Touch," which is fancy anime talk for "slo-mo." Draw a star on the screen and time slows to a crawl, allowing you to heal, suture wounds, and bandage all in the blink of an eye. It lowers your score, though, so be wary if you care about such things as rank.
What I like about Trauma Center is basically two things. First, the plot. The story goes deeper than one would think at first glance. Derek, despite his superpowered surgeon status, is a very human, fallible character, and it's something I wasn't expecting when first I played this game. He's got a great cast to back him up, with Angie the nurse in the main supporting character role who keeps Derek's head from getting too big. It's a lengthy story, and delves into things like conspiracies and betrayals, even though it gets a bit crazy towards the end. The Wii remake pushes things further with a second (abbreviated) story.
The second point I like is the operations itself. When you first start playing Trauma Center, you'll naturally find the gameplay clunky and awkward, struggling to memorize not only where a particular surgical tool is, but which one you need for a specific situation.
Eventually, though, everything clicks, and that's when things get cool.
As I mentioned, each surgery requires a sometimes lengthy sequence of, for lack of a better term, "moves" to complete. There comes a point in Trauma Center when you're just effortlessly flowing from tool to tool, from move to move, and your mind is clear. You're not even thinking about the next wound you have to sew shut, or the next weird parasite you need to fry with your laser. You're not thinking about it, because you're just doing it.
It gets very Zen, in a way. For a moment, there's nothing in the room but you and a DS. And getting an S-Rank after you've just pulled off a totally perfect operation is nothing short of satisfying.
Oh, also, the Wii remake, Second Opinion, is just as awesome. Maybe even more so; the controls are vastly improved on, and the game easily translates to the Wii remote. And you can still get lost in it just like the DS version.
Trauma Center ends up feeling pretty unique even today. Likely because there's not a lot of anime surgery games around. Check it out if you've missed it; just be aware it's sort of a niche title. But if you've been reading this silly series of articles, you've probably got an interest on niche titles, so.
Thanks for reading! Hit the comments section! Suggest future games! Seriously, I need suggestions :) and hit me up on Twitter @WingZero351
Next Week, another DS title,a JRPG that's an oft-overlooked gem about time-travel.