10/12 – Trauma Center: Under the Knife

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

The Nintendo DS has developed an identity for fostering very unusual game ideas. Phoenix Wright is a game where players take the role of a defense attorney. Elite Beat Agents is a game where you play as life cheerleaders as a rhythm game. The World Ends With You is an RPG where you battle on two screens at once in real time. It’s hard to imagine any of these games being made on other consoles of the time, let alone being successful. Today’s game stands amongst those others as a game that sounds insane and yet remarkably works on the DS. Today’s game is Trauma Center: Under the Knife, developed and published by Atlus and released exclusively on the DS in 2005.

While playing a game as a doctor may not sound all that strange, Trauma Center: Under the Knife takes things to an anime extreme. You play as Doctor Derek Stiles, a young surgeon with the ability to slow down time during surgeries. After being discovered by medical group Caduceus, Dr. Stiles is recruited to fight a group of bioterrorists unleashing a disease known as GUILT into the world. Using his special ability and his surgeon techniques, he must save the world from GUILT.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife spends a decent amount of time with the story but surgeries are fast-paced action sequences where a player must be very precise with their actions in order to succeed. Trauma Center uses the touch screen to show the patient’s body and players are guided in what they have to do. Use the scalpel to cut an incision, use a laser to shrink tumors, use forceps to pull tumors out. Each individual action isn’t particularly complicated but Trauma Center often throws many different obstacles around at once. Shrinking a tumor and pulling it out may not be particularly hard but try doing it when 6 tumors appear at once with each one growing and exploding, causing the patient’s heart rate to drop. It doesn’t help matters that surgeries are given short time limits already and players are ranked on how well they perform.

This gave the game a reputation for being quite difficult, with several of the later cases being noted as particularly challenging. Still, Trauma Center: Under the Knife was given positive reviews on the DS for being extremely unique and always engaging. The game would receive a remake, Trauma Center: Second Opinion, on the Wii in 2006 as well as three sequels, two on the Wii and one on the DS.

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