When I first spotted this game while wandering around in the Nintendo booth at E3, my first thought was literally, What the hell...?¯ Everybody knew that the DS would provide gamers with some pretty unique games, but a surgery sim? I thought it was a neat idea before I even got my hands on it, but would it actually make a decent game? Now, not only am I impressed, I am eagerly awaiting the final release of this sweet little title.
The basis for the story is about what you would expect for a doctor game. A mysterious epidemic has been spreading across the area. You take on the role of a young doctor who has finally rid himself of the intern¯ tag and is ready to show that he can take on the real world. By your side you also have an equally inexperienced, young, blonde nurse. It is up to you two to save lives and stop the epidemic. The story progresses in the style of a Japanese text-adventure game. In between surgeries you will talk to other doctors and nurses for briefings, to discuss the epidemic, and sometimes just to talk. It will be interesting to see just how deep the story in the game gets beyond save the patients¯. I would personally like to see the development of relationships not just concerning you, but within the entire hospital, if for nothing else, to give us more to look forward to during the game other than just reaching the next level.
Of course, the game is all about performing surgery and making sure patients get out of the OR alive. I was surprised at the number of elements that factored into the operations, even in the three-level demo I played. When you first start an operation, you cut along a dotted line using the stylus. No, you can't perform your own style of surgery by using the what if¯ strategy. You then have a multitude of tools at your disposal including syringes for removing and injecting fluids, ultrasound for detecting tumors, suture thread, antibacterial goo, tweezers, and several others. After the guided tutorials, you are essentially on your own with only pre-operation briefings to tell you what needs to be done. During the operation, just about every action performed is given an accuracy rating. Along with this there is a clock running the whole time the patient is on the table. At the end of the operation, providing the timer didn't run out and your patient survived, you are scored and given a ranking. As the game progresses, you will also be able to go back and replay surgeries to beat the game 100%.
There is still a ton left to discover about Trauma Center. How long will it be? Will the story develop very deeply? How complex will the surgeries get? These are just a few of the questions I have. But the biggest factor has already proven itself; the gameplay is awesome. With the bigger titles such as Mario Kart, Nintendogs, and Animal Crossing getting ready to launch later this year, this may be one of the titles on the DS that jumps up and surprises everyone. I am looking forward to the release of this game every bit as much as the others I just listed. Gamers, get ready to have your stylus dexterity tested. Trauma Center: Under the Knife will be one of the many games this holiday season that makes us say This is why I bought my DS.¯