it came to my attention that the elusive "Trauma Center: Under the Knife" was available for a short time on overstock.com. i wasted no time in snatching this rare find up in the wild! The first thing i will say about this game is this... this game is very hard and often frustrating. Now I will get into why...
The artwork in this game is pretty neat but they use the same poses and frames for most of the game... there are probably about 10 frames of each character (or less) that are rotated through. as you can see from the picture in this post, the art is fairly standard Japaneses styling. There are several story lines going on at once which can keep things interesting. First off you have the game set in the near future. there are wonder drugs and cremes that make things like AIDS and infections a thing of the past. but there is this new disease that very little is known about. it is speculated that this germ may be some sort of biological weapon of sorts. you play Dr. Stiles who has just finished his 3 year at hope hospital and is now a full fledged surgeon. he is still a little green so the first few surgeries are stepped through with an experienced nurse. back to story lines. The first nurse that you start off with leaves after a few surgeries and is replaced by this young (but well educated) 21 year old nurse. she is very strict and thinks that you are rubbish as a doctor. you will soon prover her wrong. i haven't gotten far enough yet but i believe that there is a romance subplot to the nurse character. Then you have the director of the hospital who use to be like the world's top surgeon or something. then there was some incident that he never talks about and he stopped operating and now just runs the hospital. the senior surgeon mentors you and is very brilliant. eventually you learn of this technique that some people possess called "the healing touch". This technique can be developed and it is used to improve your concentration. it basically slows time down while you are operating so you can perform tasks at lightning speed. apparently the Director has this "healing touch" as well. He advises you to not pursue it because most people can't handle the burden on their hands.
now for the game play...
The graphics in the game play are pretty good. you cut people open and see organs and stuff. much of the surgical procedure is fictitious though. I was hoping that it would be more like a game i use to play on PC in the pre-windows days. that game was ultra realistic. that aside the surgical part of the game is fun. my problem with the game is that it relies too much on the stylus. while you are in surgery the buttons do nothing for you... even more is that the start or select buttons do nothing as well! they really should have given you a way to abort a surgery if you want to start it over. you should also be able to skip the prepping for a surgery that you have already completed if you want to try and do it faster. i think that the L and R buttons would have been nicely used to select different instruments that you will need to use instead of tapping them. it would also be nice if the nurse did more for you like hand you the tools you will need so you aren't wasting time switching to them. this is where the game gets aggravating. some times the time limits on the surgery are just too close to complete successfully. I think that there should be a longer easing in process to work you up to the harder surgeries or some sort of skill level setting that lets you make the game a little easier. for instance if you had an easy setting where the nurse hands you the next tool you need but in the hard setting she doesn't and extra time allowed for an easier setting. the game seems to be too hard too fast. this makes it extremely nerve racking to try and play.
other things i would like to see in this game...
so i hope this game does well enough to have a part two. i would like to see the things i listed above improved on. in addition to that i would like to see a battle mode where you can do surgeries head to head and see who is faster or more skilled. also doing co-op surgery would be fantastic. there could be times when more than one thing has to happen on a patient at once. or maybe there are multiple tumors to extract and you can both work on the same section and communicate verbally as to who will get which tumor without slicing each other up in the hand meat. also it would be neat to have a co-op mode where one person is the nurse and has to monitor vitals and do injections to keep the vitals up as well as hand the surgeon tools in a proper and timely order. i already mentioned including some of the buttons into the game play but it would also be nice to include the mic. you could ask for instruments verbally. or command the nurses attention. just imagine being on the bus and shouting into your DS "NURSE, SCALPEL!". it beats yelling "BLUE RED YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW DAMMIT I SAID YELLOW!" (bloody brain age).
what is your final diagnosis doctor?
This game is fun and certainly show cases the stylus aspect of the DS. there are many things that could be improved on in this game. despite having cut corners on the story line artwork the game play is very nice. with all of its shortcomings the game is rather enjoyable. i find that i need to play in in short bursts because of my frustrations. i think this will fade as my skills as a surgeon (DS surgeon) improve. i have high hopes for a sequel to this game but so far no one is talking about making one. it certainly isn't a "must have" addition to someones DS library but it is a game that is worth playing for a month or so or even just renting from time to time.
Water Seven DS M.D.