Each Friday, we’re going to review some of our favourite games from days gone by, because sometimes it’s just nice to go back and revisit them.
This week is the turn of 1997’s hospital simulation game Theme Hospital.
With the announcement of the spiritual successor, Two Point Hospital, due to be released at the back end of 2018 we’ve decided to talk about this cult classic that provided hours and hours of entertainment over the years since it’s release.
I have to say, for a game that is now 21 years old (wow, didn’t even realise that until I typed it!!) it really is a timeless classic that can be picked up at any time. I have bought and re-bought this many times over the years and it’s still worth every penny. With an interface that’s very simple and easy to use, you can dive straight in to the first level and start building your first hospital without the real need for sitting through long, tedious tutorials. I’ve played many management games in the past and you can easily get lost in screens full of stats and figures without much meaning as they probably go ” too in-depth” but the simplicity of Theme Hospital, tied in with the humorous tone and graphics that wouldn’t look out of place by today’s standard has sat well with many gamers and has consistently featured in lists of top PC games of all time.
The game starts with a small empty hospital building where you must build rooms for the various treatment and hire doctors, nurses, handymen and receptionists. You are given a set amount of time at the start of the level to build what you can before the patients start arriving. As you progress throughout the levels, the “win criteria” get more difficult with more diseases to discover and more treatments to cure them. The diseases themselves range for the brilliantly funny “Bloaty Head” where patients with enlarged heads have them popped to be re-inflated to normal size, to “King Complex” where patients with an apparent love of Elvis sit with a psychiatrist to talk through their issues. From time to time, emergencies occur where the player has to cure a set number of patients all with a specific disease in a short period of time. The player competes against computer rivals and get judged on their performances on a yearly basis. This can lead to trophies being awarded, increases or decreases in reputation or even cash bonuses.
This is without doubt one of my favourite games of all time and with Two Point Hospital in development by two of the Bullfrog Productions developers, I can’t wait to see how the sequel to this classic turns out. Without wishing for a complete re-make, if they hit the same tone and dark sense of humour as the original (and we already know that one of the diseases is a patient suffering from “Light Headedness” where they literally have a light bulb for a head) then I can’t see this being anything else than a huge hit.