Reviews// Trauma Center: Second Opinion (Wii)

It’s a Wii-make Jim, but not as we know it

Posted 29 Nov 2006 16:20 by
SPOnG was a huge fan of the original Trauma Center: Under the Knife on DS when it arrived in Europe earlier this year. The game was like a videogame version of the classic board-game ‘Operation’ (for those as old as us who can remember these things) in which you were required to take to the operating table, playing the rather green, nurse-fancying junior Doctor Stiles.

The main difference between the 1970’s cardboard’n’LED game and the 21st-century videogame is that the poor unfortunate soul on the op-table doesn’t have a big red nose that buzzes and flashes when you make an error. No, Trauma Center was far less forgiving. If you failed to perform your duty successfully, the patient died and you were shamed out of your chosen profession. Quite rightfully so!

Indeed, Nintendo wheeled out the DS version of Trauma Center as a prime example of its ‘new ways to play’ philosophy – the perfect game to appeal to both non-gamers and hardcore gamers alike (see our Wii: The Jury feature for more on this). And rightfully so, as it really was a groundbreaking title and proved that genuinely new and innovative games could (indeed, must) exist alongside the well-established franchises and the marketing-led movie tie-ins and other licensed product that clutters the shelves of videogames stores the world over.

So, with Trauma Center: Second Opinion sitting proudly alongside Wii Sports, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Red Steel and the rest of the radical/ ground-breaking/ intriguing/ gimmicky motion-sensing console’s launch line-up (delete according to personal preference/fanboy bias), SPOnG was intrigued, even mildly excited about this Wii-make.

First impressions, when we sat down for an afternoon of tackling nerve-jangling, life-or-death operations in the Wii House recently, were not as promising as we had hoped. Graphically, TC:SO is far from ground-breaking. The storyline, while pleasingly illustrated in a traditional anime-style, is told mainly via still-images of the various characters, using scrolling text instead of voice-overs.

Plus, it soon gets a little bit tiresome having to constantly flick through the same old stills over and over again in order to retry the operation you just failed for the tenth time. In fact, I would go as far to say that I wouldn’t have been in any way surprised or impressed if I’d been tricked by the PR people and told that I was actually looking at a GameCube game… or (breathe its name) a Dreamcast game. Although that really would have surprised me, as the PR people showing us the game were employed by Nintendo. But anyway, I digress.

Then something truly magical happened. I took a hold of the Wii-mote in my right hand and the nunchuck in my left and blissfully fell into Nintendo’s much-hyped but as-yet rarely proven or experienced ‘new generation’ of videogaming. You really do need to pick up the controls to get a feel for how perfectly ergonomic they really are. After ten to twenty minutes of playing Trauma Center: Second Opinion any concerns about the look of the game seemed utterly inconsequential as it soon became apparent that the game’s aesthetic is not what makes it a must-have Wii title.

No, what makes this, alongside a smattering of other launch titles, including Zelda: The Twilight Princess, one of the Wii’s few truly new-gen, buy-it-now games is the fact that it (sublimely) achieves the two goals that true gamers everywhere know to be all that matter: gameplay and immersiveness. Easy to explain if you’re a gamer; impossible if you’re not. Try, for example, as this SPOnG reviewer did recently, to explain the appeal of Zelda to a thirty-something woman with no interest in videogames. Where do you start?
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Joji 30 Nov 2006 14:22
Great review and I'm glad someone has seen the light on a great game. I still play my DS version constant, (despite the sometimes annoying anime bits getting in the way, on DS if you press select you can skip them) and it still sits aloft my DS pile with Ouendan.

Damn, I was looking to pick it up for xmas but Zelda will have to do. Like you said Adam, I do feel Trauma Center was always one of the games that can crack the male only domain of games, and I pray it does good biz on Wii. This game deserves so much praise. Buy it people then we'll get a sequel.

It'll also be a bit more positive press after the Rule of Rose debacle.
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