Trauma Center: Under the Knife and Much, Much More

Trauma Center: Under the Knife

Trauma Center for the Nintendo DS is unlike any other game on the market, except perhaps the same game for the Wii. This game fully utilizes the touch-screen in a way unrealized by previous developers.
In this game you play Derek Stiles, a young surgeon trying to realize his place in the medical world. At first he is painted as inept and doomed for failure, but when a new form of bioterrorism comes around he finds that he is able to step up to the place and face the problem head on. He is assisted by his knowledgeable surgical assistant Angie, and a host of other doctors.

The game itself is essentially comprised of two parts: a surgical simulator, and an intriguing (and perhaps not too far-fetched) plot. Obviously the surgical simulator does not completely touch base with reality: surgeries are completed in five minutes, there is a magical antibiotic “gel” that seems to be a cure-all, and obviously a two-dimensional surface cannot even begin to compare with a three-dimensional one. But once you get past that completing the surgeries is incredibly fun, and requires a surprising amount of dexterity.

During surgery you are able to use tools such as suturing needles, bandages, and of course, the scalpel. An example of a surgery early in the game is removing tumors from a patients stomach by making an incision, scanning with ultrasound, excising the tumor, draining the fluid, healing the incision, and closing up. Most of the initial surgeries are fairly straightforward, but their difficulty increases as the game delves deep into the plot.

The plot seems to play out slightly like an anime series or something of the sort, which makes sense given that the game was originally developed in Japan. The animation and scene transition style also seems to be in a Japanese style, but not quite as obviously. I was slightly bothered by the anime-like resemblance of the game, because it seemed to encourage some unrealistic plot devices. In addition, because the game became so highly involved in plot-related surgeries, after getting through about 1/3 of the game there are no normal ones left.

Another aspect of the game that I did not really enjoy was the music. There seemed to only be two or three songs, and they got very dull as the game went on, so much so that I frequently had to turn the sound all of the way down. This was disappointing as there were some very cool sound effects during the surgery, and they were a good guideline for whether or not the surgery was going well.

Regardless of these factors Trauma Center: Under the Knife for the Nintendo DS is probably the best game released for the console so far for its gameplay and entertainment value.