Thursday, February 12, 2015

[Video Game] Theme Hospital

Theme Hospital
He won't damage anything other than your credit card. 
Theme Hospital always, always had (and still has) a special place in my heart - way before Origin/EA decided to give it away for free.

If you're not aware of what Theme Hospital is, it's essentially an old (think: 1997) hospital-themed micro-management tycoon game. Besides the challenge this game presents to would-be hospital managers, it also offers plenty of snark and humor. (For example, the opening cut scene starts off with a doctor who, after heroically coming to an emergency patient's rescue, decides to reject the patient due to credit decline.)

I first encountered this game when I was very young. It was Christmas time, and there was plenty of food, cheer, and kissing aunties all over the place. While everyone was having a festive time downstairs, I was up in my older cousin's bedroom, fervently watching her deal with complaining patients and grumpy doctors. I was fascinated by the *pop* in the Inflation Room, as well as with the long-tongued people who walked the halls towards the Slack Tongue Clinic. I was eventually given some time to play it on my own, and I relished being able to cheat (or welcome) Death in the corners of my very own digital hospital.

Before my cousin left for abroad many years after that Christmas night, she left me a copy of the game in a CD. Happiness beamed from my very soul... But I didn't have the technical know-how to make it work then. And so it was abandoned in the ever-filled "to-play" pile, where cobwebs covered the dusty streets and gloomy staff rooms.

Then I got news about getting the free game off Origin, so off I went to rediscover a childhood memory.

I love almost everything about this game - the old game smell, simple graphics, funny patients, managing hospital finances, playing architect (in making clinics fit in the tiniest of spaces), frustration over unusable rooms, having loads of radiators, and essentially being a money-making big shot who needs to balance curing patients and keeping a nice reputation among the community.

I've already played through the campaign mode three times since I downloaded the game (normal mode for the first time, and hard mode for the rest), but I'm not yet in the mood to move on from my hospital work. Bring on the patients, earthquakes, and epidemics. I'm ready.

Theme Hospital endgame
Because it's never really over until the Ministry comes knocking down your door to look for someone to blame - again.

(Note: I wasn't able to make the game work the first time I played it. I looked over solutions on the Internet, and found CorsixTH. According to its page, "CorsixTH aims to reimplement the game engine of Theme Hospital, and be able to load the original game data files." It essentially made my Origin copy work. While Origin later released a patch for users to actually play the game now, I am sticking with CorsixTH because I like the idea of playing with scenarios, I like to support the coders who worked to make this possible, and I'm also lazy to log in to Origin every single time just to play.)

Theme Hospital poster image from bestoldgames.net.

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