“Hey I know what’ll make a fun game – managing a hospital!” Is how I imagine the idea of Theme Hospital was pitched back when Bullfrog were still making games. It still confuses me as to what inspired the leap from theme parks and candy floss to hospitals and vomit, yet what they produced is one of the most endearing and humorous Sim games to date so I guess I can’t argue.
Theme Hospital does not have the free play option that Roller Coaster Tycoon has, the game has set levels each presenting a new set of challenges including, visits from local politicians, major accidents at the local jam factory and outbreaks of the infamous “Bloaty Head Syndrome” to name but a few.
The gameplay itself is solid, build a hospital capable of both diagnosing and treating patients, hire staff, including doctors, nurses, janitors etc, and meet the financial criteria needed to be offered a job at a better hospital all the while avoiding ending up on the yearly published Hall of Shame!
The game could not get it’s tongue any further into its cheek. Patients suffer a variety of comical ailments such as the squits (caused by eating old pizza found under the cooker) Slack Tongue Syndrome and my personal favourite – Gut Rot, caused by “Mrs. O’Malley’s Good Time Whisky Cough Mixture”
Once you get past the comedy the game itself can be brutally unforgiving, and you’ll find yourself making slow progress through the latter stages but when you do it’s strangely satisfying to know you cured all the bloaty heads in Frimpton-on-Sea.