GOG is currently running a 60% off sale on its EA stock. There’s a lot of good gaming on offer, Wing Commander and Populous stand out, but the highlight has got to be Theme Hospital, selling for a mere $2.39 (£1.50 to you and I). If you’ve never played it before this is why you should.
Developed by Bullfrog, the EA studio headed up by Peter Molyneux before Lionhead, Theme Hospital was crippilingly difficult (though fair) management sim wrapped up in a darkly funny hospital setting.
There’s probably a German simulation gamesomewhere that has a monopoly on the accurate replication of hospital management, right down to using officially licensed medical equipment brands and drugs. Theme Hospital is not that game. Patients come in to your hospital to be treated for bloaty head, a condition that causes the heads to swell with air to twice or three times their normal size. The remedy? Ushering them into a doctor’s office and popping it with a pin. Then take them to the reinflation room and have a trained specialist blow the patient’s head back up to normal proportions with a bike pump.
Bullfrog nailed the tone of Theme Hospital:I’ve reinflated hundreds, possibly thousands of heads in Theme Hospital and it’s still funny to watch.
The humour isn’t a cheap gag though, something to distract from the game’s flaws, Theme Hospital is a complex and deep sim. You’ll always be struggling to maintain your hospital on your tiny budget, cutting back on staff and rushing to get paying patients through the system so that you can afford that X-ray machine. If you lose site of the bigger picture, the mission objectives, for too long and your hospital will keel over – either running out of money or simply not able to treat the illnesses the patients are arriving with.
For £1.50 Theme Hospital is absolutely worth giving a go.