Trauma Center: Second Opinion (Wii)

Picture the old Milton Bradley game Operation in a digital form with motion controls and you’ll have an idea what Trauma Center Second Opinion is all about.

You might be able to remember when you were younger playing that old fashioned Milton Bradley game Operation. A game that probably caused more and more young people to enter the medical professional (these days you just have to watch Scrubs or ER), Operation provided fun for the entire family with its zany & skillful shock-tastic fun.

Now that we’re all into video games, it’s high time that someone came along and made the art of medical practices into a game that anyone can play… and that’s just what Atlas have done.

Previously seen as Trauma Center on the Nintendo DS, Trauma Center Second Opinion acts as both a remake and a sequel that now takes place on the Nintendo Wii. Taking advantage of the Wii’s motion controls, you’ll find yourself in the shoes of both Dr. Derek Stiles and Dr. Nozomi Weaver. While Dr. Stiles’ campaign plays out almost identically to the original found in the Nintendo DS version, Dr. Weaver’s is a brand new entry that gives Trauma Center fans that added dose and shot of new fun they’ve been looking forward to.

For those unfamiliar with the Trauma Center concept, you play as a doctor operating on some of the weirdest conditions you’re ever likely to see. We’re talking glass through the heart, split second suturing, repairing bones in tiny fragments while the person is still on the operating table: all sorts of crazy.

Taking control of the Wiimote will have you performing actions on patients as quickly as you can like using it in a downward motion to slice into patients or performing a zig-zag in mid-air to stitch them back up again. While the DS version just had you select which tools as a doctor to use, you’ll now use the Nunchuk’s joystick in a rotational arc to work out exactly which tool you want at the time. While the Wiimote is fun and interesting, sometimes the Nunchuk can be a little irritating with regards to selecting the right direction.

Graphics have changed since the DS version and now sports a proper rotational 3D look that suits the Wii quite nicely. All those comments from people saying the Wii has crap graphics could probably be ignored when you see how Trauma Center Second Opinion looks, a game that actually uses the Wii’s hardware quite nicely.

The sound is your typical mish-mash of what normally goes on inside Japanese games. Think “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” and you’ll have what this game sounds like. Music is the bland barely exciting MIDI sounds that might exist in a cheaper video game and you only hear from the characters every so often when something is about to happen like an operation. Slashes, cuts, and other medical sounds make an appearance, but it’s obvious that Atlas have paid more attention to the fun of the game and not everything else.

What might surprise most people about Trauma Center is that it’s more or less just a puzzle game wrapped inside of a medical drama. If you could somehow force a Rubik’s Cube, Lumines, and Milton Bradley’s Operation inside of the drama ER, you’d probably have Trauma Center in a nutshell. There’s even dialog going on around you!

But the dialog is one area where Atlas have let people down. In the original DS version, it was acceptable for the game to have scripted scenes existing entirely in text with Japanese anime graphics because of the limitations of the DS cartridge. But with the Nintendo Wii being able to support a lot more, it feels wrong and just plain boring that Atlas have gone with the exact same anime & text mechanism to display the story on Second Opinion. It is good that much like on the DS original you can skip the sequences and get right down to business, but the lack of proper story sequences seems to smack the possibility of doing it right completely in the face.

Ignoring that aspect, Trauma Center proves to be one of the more fun games you’ll find out there. The newer 3D graphics for the operations and organs work a treat and while I doubt it’ll be the inspiration or practice for getting into the medical industry, it is a lot of fun that is definitely worth a look.

Developer: Atlus Co.
Publisher: Nintendo
Classification: M
Formats: Nintendo Wii
URL: Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark