Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward DS
Published by: Oxygen Games
Developed by: Gameinvest
Recently we looked at the Wii version of Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward and it's fair to say it was a decent game that was let down in a few ways. Here we have the DS version of the game and it's pleasing to see that its doesn't have some of the problems the Wii version had. In fact it's a game that definitely feels more at home on the DS and is better suited to the handheld's touch screen controls.
Hysteria Hospital offers two modes: a story driven campaign and an Endless mode which lets you choose from three levels of difficulty and then play until nine patients have walked away from your hospital without being treated. There are three save slots so you can let two others share the experience with you. The main campaign includes over sixty missions that are spread over seven different hospitals. You'll get to choose either a male or female nurse to control. The story goes that your nurse has graduated from the University of California and after a string of failed job applications they are offered a job in Maryville Hospital. In each mission (a mission is supposed to represent your shift) you need to cure the required amount of patients and earn a certain amount of money. Initially it's fairly straightforward but the difficulty gradually begins to rise. In between levels you'll get to purchase new equipment for your hospital (which you can also sell if you need any extra funds), and increase the efficiency of your medical, pharmaceutical and maintenance teams.
In Hysteria Hospital you don't have the level of control over things like you had in Theme Hospital. In Bullfrog's game you could hire and fire the staff, design the layout of the hospital and even change the temperature of the radiators. In Hysteria Hospital you'll simply get to order your nurse around and lift patients first to the diagnostic counter and from there to the quick treatment centre or whichever other department they need to go to. Patients have to be moved around. The only autonomous movements they will make are to enter the hospital and to leave it if you're not looking after them. To give orders to the nurse you'll simply tap the stylus on the object you want to interact with. Orders can be queued up and this is something which is essential as the missions become more complicated.
Initially this lack of control is disturbing but you soon cotton on to the fact that you're not meant to have a great deal of control in the game. Patients won't wait around forever. Each of them has a health indicator (a heart icon above their head) that will begin to empty if you keep them waiting so you have to deal with them as quickly as you can. They will eventually leave however if the health indicator empties. Occasionally you won't be able to treat them but thankfully you do have the option of putting them in ambulance (and later on in a helicopter) to send them elsewhere for treatment. Whilst you're not punished for this, missions are time limited and it can prove costly offloading patients you really could have done with curing.
As the game progress, it all becomes very hectic and you'll even have hospitals that have multiple floors. Thankfully there are some things you can do to ease the strain somewhat. For a cost, you can adjust three management parameters in between the missions. Raising Salaries increases the efficiency of the medical staff, increasing the Pharmacy rating increases the speed of the pharmacist and finally, increasing the Maintenance rating will reduce the chance of your medical equipment malfunctioning.
For the most part I found Hysteria Hospital to be a fairly enjoyable game and it doesn't have some of the problems that the Wii version has. It is guilty of being very repetitive however and despite the fact that as the game progresses you work in bigger hospitals with multiple floors and have to deal with impatient pensioners, it still feels like you're doing the same things throughout the game. The replay value of the game is pretty much non-existent as the Endless mode doesn't really do anything to keep you coming back for more.
Visually, Hysteria Hospital looks decent. The developers opted for a basic, cartoon style and it works well and suits the tone of the game although it could have looked a little better. There seems to be only a few different character graphics so you'll see the same patients coming in time after time during a mission and that's a little disappointing. Some of the animations are humorous however and this helps, to a certain extent, to compensate for the lack of graphical quality in the game. The game makes decent use of the two screens with the action taking place on the uncluttered touch screen and the top screen being reserved for the HUD.
Hysteria Hospital is mostly fine for deaf gamers. The game's few cutscenes are text only and you can read the text at your own pace as you have to tap the touch screen to progress the dialogue. Tutorial messages are shown in text. Objectives are shown in text prior to the start of a mission. Missions are time limited and the timer is displayed on the top right corner of the top screen. The amount of money you have earned and the amount of patients you've helped to cure is also displayed on the top screen. The game makes good use of icons to convey information. You'll see icons appear above a patient's head to indicate where they need to go and you'll also see a heart meter above a patients head which will empty as they wait for treatment.
Whilst the DS version of Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward is mostly the same game as the Wii version, it doesn't have some of the problems of that version and as a result is the better version of the two. There are no control issues and the game constantly makes you aware of what your goals are and should you fail a mission, you'll know exactly why you've failed it because the summary gives you all of the details. The game is still guilty of being highly repetitive and having very little replay value but it's a game that's quite enjoyable when played in short bursts and thanks to the brevity of the missions, this is something the game is suited to.