Monday, February 19, 2007

Past-Due Review: Trauma Center: Second Opinion (Wii)

Most Nintendo fanboys who stood in line to grab a Wii on launch day probably also got their dirty mitts on a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Not me.

While everyone in front of me in line ran froth-mouthed for the pile of Zeldas, I quietly made a bee-line for the lonely stack of Trauma Centers.

Why did I bypass Zelda in favor of Atlus’ 2006 update of the old board game, Operation? Well, because I have fond memories of playing that Milton Bradley classic—even though I completely sucked at it.

I suck at Trauma Center, too, but at least there’s plenty here to distract and entertain me while I work on my suckiness. For starters, there’s an actual story to follow—you’re an up-and-coming surgeon attempting to heal the world one patient at a time (yadda yadda yadda). You get the picture, right?

Where things really pick up is when you walk through the doors of the OR. With your Wii-mote in tow, you’re called on to juggle insistent nurses, pounding sound effects and music (some of which comes through the controller) and graphic displays of all your wrongdoings.

Those of you still breast-feeding need not reach for your binky. Although the game’s 3-D visuals are slick and nicely detailed, they fit squarely within the big N’s “fit for the whole family” mantra.

You shouldn’t be picking up Trauma Center for realistic visuals anyway. Truly, the coolest about this launch offering is the way it controls. Although it uses both the Wii-mote and the nunchuck attachment, it takes but a minute to grasp which accessory controls what actions (cheat sheet: the Wii-mote does the dirty work of cutting and sewing and everything in between and you use the nunchuck to choose your tools—which include everything from antibiotic gel and a needle and thread to forceps and a defibrillator).

Those last two tools are the main reasons Trauma Center is so darn fun. To use the forceps you point at the screen and virtually “pinch” them together by pressing the Wii-mote’s A and B buttons in unison. To use the defibrillator, you push the Wii-mote and nunchuck toward the screen to literally shock the person on the screen.

Does anything about Trauma Center stick out like the splintered bones of a compound fracture? Not really, though there are a few niggling details that could have been addressed before the game was released. One is the lack of spoken dialogue. There's quite a bit of text to read through while you're operating, and it would have been nice if audio would have replaced some of it (and it would have ramped up the level of tension as well). The other: would have been nice to see some 16:9 support for those of us with widescreen TVs. Oh well.

So, you’re one of those aforementioned Nintendo fanboys—the ones who dressed up like Link on launch day and picked up every game available. Should you have added Trauma Center to your stash? Yes, I’d say that’s the right diagnosis. It isn’t as deep as Zelda, but there’s plenty here to impress and entertain for quite some time.

As for noobs, well, you can add this to your “Wish Lists,” too. This is one of the best games to help you come to grips with the Wii controllers. The fact that you can also use it to show off the abilities of your shiny new Wii is just icing on the cake.

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