The idea of cutting open another human being absolutely repulses me. This is odd because I watch House without any problems, but if the local access channel is showing live surgery I want to cringe. This is probably why I never got into Trauma Center; the game just never appealed to me because of my aversion to seeing the innards of another human being. Hysteria Hospital is another take on the genre, one that harkens back to the glory days of Theme Hospital. Instead of treating patients with a scalpel, you treat them by pointing and clicking. The premise is simple, and in practice it turns out to be pretty fun. The problem arises when you come to the realization that everything about the game is presented in the first ten minutes.
Starting out, you play as a nurse, that can be either male or female, that has just graduated from the nursing school at the University of California. After being rejected a few times from some pretty well respected hospitals, you are hired on at a small one in a small village. You are put in charge of helping out the sick which in turn raises the hospital’s (and yours as well) reputation. Once you fill nine stars, you are transferred to a bigger hospital. The story plods along with the use of some dramatic still anime scenes, which are actually well done. The sad part is that they are a little on the bland side, and don’t do the best job of describing the narrative.
Hysteria Hospital is like Root Beer Tapper. You use the stylus to click on a patient, move them to the diagnostic table, and then onto what they need to have done. The process is simple, but in time it can become overwhelming. Each level is broken down into a day’s worth of work. You have a time limit and a quota to meet, and if you manage to do that you can earn some cash along the way. I was instantly addicted to the process. Moving patients from one area to the next and tending to their beds afterwards was smooth and slick with the DS screen and stylus. Things are simple at first, but quickly become hectic as more and more patients funnel into the hospital. The formula is fun at first but tedium quickly sets in.
The upgrade system boggles my mind. Not because it doesn’t make sense, but because you have to use your hard-earned money in order to buy new equipment and upgrades for the hospital. I thought I just worked here, why do I have to up the salary of the pharmacist so he will fill prescriptions faster, that is what tax money is for. Using your earnings you can purchase new beds, equipment and upgrades, all of which help in the long run, or you could simply continue to ship patients off to another hospital via the ambulance. This is universal healthcare at its finest.
At first the game enthralled me. I was hooked on the mindless action of clicking and dragging patients around the hospital. Then it wore off. I was bored, and things were quickly becoming tedious and mind-numbing. This is a portable game, and it should be experienced in short doses, but it really began to feel like a time-wasting game more akin to a mobile phone than a handheld console. Perhaps I am being a bit picky, but I really enjoyed Hysteria Hospital at first, I just wish there was more to the game than meets the eye. The price tag suggests a little more depth, and if this was a downloadable game it would be getting hammered for its simplicity, as it stands it is a novel DS game that should only be experienced in short doses.
The visuals are surprisingly more in-depth than the Wii version, which was hilarious to me. The slick interface and cartoon-inspired character models go a long way in its presentation. The most impressive thing about the game is the slick interface. Never did I get lost or confused, and everything is right where it should be. This is likely due to the ease of using the stylus, and a lack of options to go along with it.
Hysteria Hospital is a fun romp that simply fails to capitalize on its potential. The game will grow tedious long before it should, and there just isn’t enough here to keep you coming back for more. I found myself really enjoying what it was offering, but also at the same time wondering if it would ever rise above the simplicity it portrays on the outside. Overall I wish this was actually a much cheaper game on a smaller platform; that may seem like a harsh criticism, but I really want to play this game on my mobile phone as opposed to the same handheld that delivers some truly epic gaming experiences.