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Trauma Center: Second Opinion
Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Nintendo Wii
Genre: Simulator Players: 1 to 0
Developer: Atlus Official Site:
Publisher: Nintendo
Trauma Center: Second Opinion Review
Review By @ 10:50am 26/08/08
You can argue the Wii has become nothing more than a mainstream lounge-room decoration, but you can't deny its uniqueness has brought us some innovative, original games and concepts. One of the earliest to jump on the Wii bandwagon (after a successful run on Nintendo DS), is Atlus' Trauma Center series of games that put you in the scrubs of a surgical doctor saving lives with your stylus or Wii Remote, as the situation (and platform) requires.

What's interesting about Trauma Center: Second Opinion is that it's ultimately just an updated version of Trauma Center: Under The Knife for DS. It's most definitely been Wii-ified, but it's essentially the same game. Still, on the DS it was a bit more of a niche title, on the Wii, however, it's likely to find audiences of non-hardcore,
casual and hardcore gamers, alike.

Obviously there are those of you who've never seen this running on DS, either. So for all you would-be doctors - here's the skinny.

You play Dr Derek Stiles, a young up and coming surgical doctor trying to make a name for himself as a dedicated and competent life-saver. There isn't much faith in him at Hope Hospital though (where he's just finished his residency). Thankfully he's surrounded by capable, experienced surgeons and nurses and despite a general lack of confidence in the immediacy, upon proving his skills, Stiles' reputation as a doctor on the rise steadily grows alongside faith in him.

It's cool because, ultimately a game like this could almost have maintained life without a story, but adding one anyway has just sweetened the deal. It's also very Japanese, though there are several Scrubs references throughout, which is rad.

The whole narrative is delivered in simple Manga drawn stills. There is no animation throughout beyond the physical operation, but this actually works for the game. 'Levels' are basically each operation you perform, and in keeping with the set narrative (of learning and confidence) and videogame formulaic play, each operation naturally becomes progressively harder.

You'll start out using the Wii Remote as a seminal Swiss Army Surgical tool whereby each implement you need is available on an easily accessible wheel that highlights each one. Simply use the analogue stick on the Nunchuk to choose your specific item, and voila! Your Wii Remote becomes it.

You'll have access to the usual instruments a surgeon would use such as a scalpel, syringe (you can fill it from various vials of medicine, as required), needle (for stitching), forceps, bandages and more. These will be handed to you - at first - only as they're needed, but when you can be fully trusted, you'll equally be charged with having to work out - on your own - exactly what you need to use and when. It's a great system, because losing a life is kind of a downer (which is weird because it's a game, but rarely in games is death so final), with the words "after his final operation, most people would agree that Dr Stiles had no business treating patients in the first place" signaling game over.

During operations you'll not only have a time-limit to perform to, but the patient's vital signs as well. This will deplete based on the amount of stress you're causing to the body (ie slicing it open with a scalpel, etc), but can be countered with injections. Still, the longer you dawdle in an attempt to keep the patient's vitals high, the less time you'll end up having to perform delicate procedures. This translates to some pretty edge-of-your-seat gameplay, and you always feel the intensity of pressure, expectation and potential failure - which is a rare combo for videogames, making this really unique.

All that said though, the anime presentation and over-the-top dialogue does lighten the game's burden-esque load, and then some. This balances things out a bit alongside some pretty basic visuals. I could see a more serious style of game in this genre arriving to take full advantage of the new Wii MotionPlus with more realistic visuals, but until then, Atlus' efforts will more than do.

Precision with the Wii Remote here rewards you with ratings. Slicing a patient open with the scalpel quickly with steady hands can net you a "Cool" rating (at the end of operations your "Cool"s are counted for extra points).

There's also Good and Bad as well, Bad obviously being the worst and you're penalised with a bigger drop in the patient's vital signs. You'll also create a combo based on stringing together swift, successful actions. This is used to earn more points, and getting a "Miss" will break the combo where you'll need to start it back up again.

As this is an updated port of an older game, a few new additions beyond cosmetic have found their way across including that all-important tool of life-saving, the defibrillator (you know, the electrically charged pads doctors use and say "Clear!" as they shock a person's heart back to life). You can't always use it, but certain narrative situations initially call for it revealing a slightly different game than the DS version as well as it being able to be used as an instrument of life later on during certain types of operations.

The progressive nature of each operation in terms of gradual levels of difficulty make this game easy to start and difficult to finish. You're rewarded for doing well, but losing a patient is a definitive action that ultimately ends your game. This is in no way a bad thing though. After all, you're dealing with life on the operating table, and as the game's interesting manual states "there are no second chances in the O.R.!" This makes Trauma Center: Second Opinion a refreshing breath of air against stagnant uninspired genres out there. And this really couldn't work anywhere else except maybe the PC, but I doubt it would have this much charm (plus I think using a mouse wouldn't be as fun as it is to use the Wii Remote here).

Trauma Center: Second Opinion is a pretty awesome piece of software. It's the sort of game that doesn't need to rely on incredible visuals (though I wouldn't complain if something in this budding genre came along looking awesome, too), because the addictive nature of its gameplay parts more than make up for the lack of visual prowess. If you own a Wii and are interested in trying out new types of games, this one comes highly recommended.

You can check out more of Trauma Center: Second Opinion from our local AusGamers game page.

What we liked
  • Intuitive use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk
  • You learn a lot about medical procedures and the human body as you play
  • Death is final - there's no room for error
  • Great concept
What we didn't like
  • Not as visually appealing as it could be
  • Some of the dialogue is a bit over-the-top
  • Can become frustratingly difficult further into the game
We gave it: