Following Electronic Theatre’s In-depth Review of the Wii release of Hysteria Hospital earlier this week, which ultimately proved to be somewhat disappointing, we can today bring you an analysis of the Nintendo DS release. Developed alongside the Wii version by Gameinvest, Oxygen Games’ latest release thankfully performs better on Nintendo’s portable system than their more powerful home console.
The biggest issue with Hysteria Hospital on Wii was the imprecise nature of the Wii Remote based control system. Unsurprisingly, the direct connection of the Nintendo DS’s Touch Screen provides a much more reliable basis for the game’s manic pace. Beginning in a somewhat humble emergency ward, the player is tasked with treating patients suffering from varying degrees of injury and illness. Opposed to being a surgery simulation game in the vein of Trauma Center, however, Hysteria Hospital plays more as a logic-based Puzzle game, where forward-thinking organisation and speed are the order of the day.
As a patient enters the ward, the player must first diagnose their injury or illness, before providing treatment and the required rest for the patient. Each level has a set number of patients that must be treated within the time limit; however efficient players will often find themselves scoring additional bonuses for surpassing that number early in the game. Working between cleaning, escorting patients for diagnosis and delivering prescriptions soon become systematic, thanks to the developers judicious decision as to what is tap controlled and what needs to be dragged. But it’s not always roses for the player, as Hysteria Hospital has no reservations in throwing curve balls at the player, destabilising their system at the very point when the players feels most confident.
As the player progresses and more treatments become available, they must manage the layout of their ward for maximum effectiveness, and also decide how much of their hard-earned cash should be spent on maintaining such equipment, hopefully preventing it from malfunctioning at exactly the wrong time – which it will often do should the player not be managing their income efficiently. Tying each of these aspects together is a traditional sense of progression. Managing to bumble through a level filling the required patient treatment allocation by the skin of your teeth teaches valuable lessons in how to manage not only your time within the levels, but also your finances and ward layout between. Advancing to new, more expansive wards brings an undeniable sense of satisfaction, as by this point completion of each level is a real achievement; even for those who have been playing similar games for more than twenty years.
Hysteria Hospital on Nintendo DS is equally as charming as its’ Wii counterpart, despite a marked difference in the developers’ approach to the aesthetic. The visual quality is reminiscent of Habbo Hotel and Contact; a pleasingly chunky isometric representation of a colourful 3D world. The sound quality is also commendable, as though so inclined will undoubtedly find the moans and squeals of patients just as endearing as any Lemmings or Piñata’s could ever be.
Hysteria Hospital is a surprisingly deep game. While on the surface it appears as little more than an exercise in timing, later levels prove that Hysteria Hospital does in fact stand upon a complex mechanic of toing-and-throwing not between the tasks set as the order they appear, but with the player’s own experience of how these tasks should be dealt with. Sometimes, what seems to be the longest road is by far the most beneficial. That Hysteria Hospital suffers from loading delays immediately rings home the fact that the game runs to much greater depths than the typical Nintendo DS release, and while it may appear “casual” on the surface, Hysteria Hospital is nothing less than meticulously designed challenge.