medical simulation

Trauma Team

First Hour Review

Trauma Team CoverClassifying video games into genres can be a tricky ordeal. For example, let's look at Fable. It's a role-playing game because it uses dynamic statistics as modifiers to its core mechanics, right? But one of the traditional indicators of an RPG video game is that it plays out with little regard to nuanced player input: its action is menu driven and often turn based. Fable's real-time combat, on the other hand, relies on player dexterity (as in an Action game) as much as it does the quantifications of the battle engine. So, in our propensity to create subgenres when things don't fit so neatly, we just call it an Action RPG. However, it's hard to be satisfied with this conclusion when one could replace every instance of "Fable" in this paragraph with "BioShock," "Mass Effect," or even "Star Ocean" and it would be no less true, even if all of these games feel completely different in once you get your hands on the controller.

Okay, so there's obviously a problem when so many games in the same genre are so dissimilar. But what about when a game comes along and has no precedent to compare to? Case in point, where the hell does the Trauma Center series belong?

Trauma Center: Under the Knife arrived on the scene in the Nintendo DS launch window, requiring players to perform lightspeed surgeries using a variety of medical instruments through the handheld's touch screen. Ignoring the dearth of surgery games (or even touch screen games) to use as precedent, Trauma Center was still very tough to define. Can we really use the catchall Simulation genre for a game where heart surgery lasts all of a minute and Space Invaders can be found in the patient's lungs? Is it part visual novel merely because operations are bookended and pervaded by character portraits and dialogue? Not content to let us try and figure it out after four games, Atlus' fifth title in the franchise, Trauma Team, complicates things further by providing six different scenarios to play through, each with its own exploration within (and sometimes a bit outside) the traditional Trauma Center structure.

Okay, so I don't really know what to call it. A more important concern, though, is whether or not it's fun. So how did my first hour go with this...whatever it is?

 

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2

Full Review

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 CoverTrauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is the direct sequel to one of my favorite Nintendo DS games Before I played the original Trauma Center, I had never understood the real appeal of the DS. That game, along with Kirby Canvas Curse, demonstrated what the system was really capable of and how much fun it could be. So when the sequel was released, I put it at the top of my list to play. I actually beat this game about two months ago, but things have been pretty busy so I haven't been able to write the review until now.

The Trauma Center series pits you as a highly skilled surgeon working for Caduceus, a well funded research facility. The games are highly linear, with tons of text, so if you're looking for a straight surgery simulator, you'll have to wade through a lot of cruft to get to it. If you can put up with much too serious characters in contrived situations, then you will be rewarded with excellent and difficult gameplay. Let's get to my review of Trauma Center 2.

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