One of the great joys of Nintendo’s current hardware has been the way it seems to have set developers free to explore genres and subject matters they have previously ignored. Usually, it seems like game developers live on a steady diet of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Chuck Norris films, churning out endless variations on the same ‘man on a mission/heroic quest/science tampering with unknown forces’ themes. This leaves a whole range of genres such as melodrama, police procedurals, period drama, political satire and the good old fashioned thriller almost completely unexplored. The DS has done a good job of changing that, taking on legal drama (Phoenix Wright), the gritty detective thriller (Hotel Dusk) and, in Atlus’s Trauma Centre: Under the Knife, the medical drama. These are games that people who don’t normally like games tend to like, partly because – unlike most other games – they actually take on themes and subjects that they already know and love.
Now the Wii is following in its older, smaller brother’s footsteps with an updated version of the aforementioned Trauma Centre. For those of you who haven’t come across it, it’s a sort of streamlined surgical sim where a succession of patients are wheeled in for your attention, and you use a variety of real and fanciful surgical tools to mend their various lacerations, dig out their tumours and remove a variety of foreign bodies from their organs. While all this goes on, comic-book cut-scenes in the excellent Phoenix Wright tradition fill you in on developments and keep you on top of the unfolding central plot.
On the DS, this all happened using the stylus, with the bottom screen used for operating and the top screen filled by an assistant who gave regular prompts on the procedure at hand. The Wii, however, has given the game some much-needed room to breathe. The Wii remote now does the actual work on your TV screen, while you select tools using the analogue stick on the attached Nunchuk controller. Meanwhile, your glamorous assistant turns up in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to prompt your next move or update you on potentially hazardous developments.