“Do You Remember” is a segment of where we remind you guys of classic games you may have forgotten, and games we wish could either have a remake, be brought back to life with a HD upgrade, or be given a sequel, or quite possibly something else. At the end of the article, I will tell you guys what I believe should be done with the game.
It’s taken over a year to get here, but it’s finally back; the segment all of you enjoyed reading about. And I thought I would start this week off with something I used to enjoy a lot back in the day; Theme Hospital. Developed by the late Bullfrog Productions (the developers who made the original Syndicate game), it was a simulation game that required you to run your very own hospital; aside from Sim City, it was one of the most fun simulator games you could ever play.
The game would start you off looking like a board game; every time you completed a level successfully, you’d move up the board. Believe it or not, but I never actually completed this game due to how hard it got for me (I was around 8 or 9 at the time, alright?). You’d be given a canvas and you had to fill it with all the types of rooms in a hospital you could think of with the set amount of money you were given, including a GP’s office, rooms for surgery, inflation room, cardio, and even the toilets (how about that). You’d have to be careful not to make the rooms too big; when the highlighted area turns green, that should really be more than enough hospital space for your room. You could make your entire hospital from the very start without any worries. The real game would not start until the timer in the bottom right reached zero, so if you do press the “end timer” too early, then you’ve got trouble on your hands; you’d be better off waiting for the timer to finish.
Once the timer finishes, that’s when patients would start to investigate the hospital and would eventually lead to business. Simple, right? No, because the game got really smart with you. You had to look after your patients to the max. You needed to make sure there was enough seats available to patients, make sure they were warm enough by placing radiators around the hospital, made sure there was refreshments available to them, and most of all, made sure they didn’t die in your hospital. You’d even have to go as far as to just add some plants in your hospital, just so that the patients weren’t looking at a dreary old floor or wall. The nicer it looks, the more you’d be convincing them that “this was the hospital for them”.
But then things would start to go wrong. Patients would start leaving if you ignored them for too long, rats would start appearing, machines would start to break down, patients would throw down litter and all this might happen just before an inspection. Yes, these were the moments to panic with. Not only that, but the way patients would die would be taking risks in finding cures for new diseases that you discover throughout your career.
And then there’s the other side to the hospital; the staff. You had to make sure you picked your staff correctly; how cheap were they? How did they portray themselves? What sort of a person were they (e.g. if it was a doctor, were they more of a GP? What about a psychiatrist?). If you chose the wrong person, then they may end up quitting their job, or you may even be forced to fire them. You could only choose 4 types of staff; doctors, receptionists, handymen and nurses. Handymen were around as cleaners; they’d make sure the environment was clean enough for patients to stay in. If not, then you may even have to clean up the odd patients puke. You’d even have to make sure the staff were entertained throughout their break with staff rooms and the fun things they could do inside it, like pool tables, sofas and even televisions. If there’s no staff room, the staff might end up going crazy, possibly resorting you into either sacking them or finding a place to build a staff room.
And all of that is just in one level. The game got harder as you progressed, with differently shaped hospitals that you’d be required to work with; some even got smaller as you progressed, but no matter how small they were, completing the levels were always achievable… somehow. Graphically, this game wasn’t brilliant, but do remember this was a game that was released in 1997, so back then, this game would have been able to pass graphically. The game would even have its comical moments, when “Death” would even drop by to take a dead patient to hell.
I would love to see this game get either a HD upgrade or a complete remake. This game was just pure fun and a great challenge. With the things that can be done in this generation of games, perhaps we could even take things to the next level. Theme Hospital is available on GOG.com to buy (a compatible version that works on Windows 7), the PSN and was available on the older PC formats, DOS PC and the original Playstation.
Next Week: You’ve just read about “Theme Hospital”. Get ready to take on “Theme Park World” (it felt more fitting to do these two games back to back).