REVIEW: Trauma Center – Second Opinion (2006)

A Videogame for the Nintendo Wii, a remake of a Nintendo DS Game

Not too long ago, my son wanted to play a “doctor game” of some sort, which led to him attempting to play the purposefully hard to control Surgeon Simulator, which is a game I don’t particularly like or want to play. Since he is just seven years old, I knew that it would likely be me playing the game instead of him and needed a diversion. After searching around to no avail, I remembered that I owned an entire series of games in this very genre on the Nintendo Wii that I had not played for a while – Atlus’s Trauma Center series. Originally a Nintendo DS game, Trauma Center – Second Opinion got a new lease on life on the one-time juggernaut of gaming, the Nintendo Wii and eventually spawned three sequels, one of which was on the DS as well. While an unlikely game for a young child to enjoy, this experiment has been a big hit and has led to us playing the game together on most weekends for about a month now.

“The follow-up to Trauma Center – Under the Knife, this is the first surgical video game for the Nintendo Wii. Sure, we’ve all imagined what it would be like to become a doctor. Years of medical school, residency, and clinic duty eventually pay off in a rewarding position saving people’s lives. Or, you could skip all that and just put in a few hours after dinner. The critically acclaimed medical drama simulation is making a house call on your Wii! Dr. Derek Stiles is back, but he’s not the only surgeon on call a new player joins the team, bringing along everything the doctor ordered: difficulty modes, new surgical implements like the defibrillator, and an exciting never-before-seen conclusion. So what are you waiting for? If one dose of Trauma Center wasn’t enough, it’s time you got a Second Opinion!”

At its core, Trauma Center is a dramatized doctor simulation game. The gameplay progresses with chapters alternating story driven segments that progress the narrative and operations that test the players skills. Operations are handled almost like a puzzle in every instance, with some sequences being exactly that, including off-the-wall things like using surgeon tools to diffuse a bomb or juggling a flashlight while doing a surgery in the dark. The game stays fairly grounded at first, but introduces a science fiction-based viral outbreak into the mix at the end of the first act of the game, a foe that the player will contend with for the remainder of the story. All operation missions are timed, and awards can be given for those that perform carefully or faster (these are your standard S, A, B, C, D etc. rankings). In later levels the timing system seemed unfair at times, but at no point did I feel like anything was “impossible”.

I won’t lie and say that every mission is fun, some of them are incredibly frustrating and almost made me “rage quit.” The biggest offenders are some of the more puzzle-based strains of GUILT, the seemingly sentient nanomachine-based viral epidemic introduced into the world of Trauma Center via a shadowy terrorist group. One in particular involved removing these triangular-shaped crystals from various tissues in such a way as to not allow it to multiply, usually resulting in the thing multiplying rapidly for no reason. With a little help from online sources, we were able to complete these missions, but they come at you from out of nowhere.

One of the biggest downfalls of this game are the controls, as the Wii-mote and Nunchuck controller are not really ideal for something like this, making the player feel like a doctor with the most jittery of hands at times. The game was a LOT smoother on the Nintendo DS, as the precision one has with a small screen san stylus really cannot be topped. With patience and practice, one can overcome these obstacles and have fun with the game despite these issues, as we did.

The game has decent graphics for the time, but keep in mind that this nearly twenty year old game is not going to look perfect on a big HD TV running through an HDMI adapter like I was doing. It’s passable, and very playable despite the age. Since this game has no online components or DLC to worry about, one can still get the full experience that everyone had back in 2006 without dealing with features that are no longer there, such as online play. This is, for better or worse, a single player adventure game that has no real need for any of that, so any inclusion would have been strange.

There is a lot of game here for anyone wanting to try this out. The game contains seven main chapters and a parallel chapter that is played out of order that leads into the final stretch. these all contain around fifteen segments with half of which being operation levels. When we finally finished it, we were well over twelve hours, but I suspect a completionist could rack up way more playtime. I really don’t have any interest in getting all S-ranks or similar, so we stopped at the normal playtime.

For those that may have played the original Nintendo DS version of this, the Wii version actually has a lot more levels and story than the previous game – the aforementioned “Z Missions”, which are the parallel story, and an entirely new final chapter that fleshes out the ending of the original game are included. I’m not sure if it’s a definite “must buy” for those that have played the first one, but the extra content does change the game a bit. This version is also far superior i terms of graphics and sound, something understandable considering the modest power increase to the Wii console.

Overall, dipping back into my Wii library has been fun, and we may do some more of these games in the future. I actually own all three of the Wii ones, but I have never played two or three, so anything past this point would be new to me. This is game is still quite playable, even fifteen years on, and is fully intact without the need for additional content now rendered unobtainable due to the shutdown of Nintendo’s Wii servers years ago. The controls are somewhat the biggest flaw in the game, but are fairly intuitive despite this. Trauma Center – Second Opinion is a classic that should be revisited by Sega at some point, as I’m sure a Nintendo Switch sequel would be well-received. Stay tuned for more, as my son has fallen in love with this series, and I’m sure we will play more.

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