Trauma Team is the third instalment of the relatively famous franchise on the Nintendo Wii, and also the final. With this one, you’re living room becomes an entire hospital, and not just an operating theatre.
There are six characters for you to select, each of them with their own department of the hospital, with them being Surgery, First Response, Orthopedics, Endoscopics, Diagnosis and Forensics (Autopsy). Each of these stories tells a brief glimpse into the lives of these doctors, and whilst some of them aren’t really worth playing, some of them are actually downright incredible. Variety is the spice of life, I suppose…? They all handle and play differently, and as such, I figured that I might as well go over each one individually, and then reach my conclusion of this underlooked gem.
Be honest, who didn’t see this coming? Surgery makes a triumphant return, and at this point, there is honestly nothing more that I can say about it. It was perfected in previous instalments and comes here in all it’s glory with a fascinating plot and a wonderful main character, complete with a fair selection of operations. Whilst there may have been too many tumors for my liking, the missions in the surgery aspect are flat out flawless, and they’re why the Trauma franchise got so famous in the first place. With motion controls actually feeling more “flow-ish” than ever before, pointing at things on the screen and using the button with nunchuk combination to use your tools has never been more satisfying. I’m not actually going to go into that much detail on the surgery, as you can find my opinions on how wonderfully it’s been implemented in previous reviews; since almost nothing has changed here.
Coming second is First Response. This gameplay mode gives you control of Doctor Maria Torres, an outspoken individual who has an area of expertise in helping people at the scene of a crisis. Her missions are essentially a lesser version of the surgery that we all know and love, with a limited selection of tools being used. Her gimmick? Her particular field of expertise means treating more than one patient at a time. That’s right – simultaneous operations.
It sounds a little bizarre but once you get used to it…and you get used to it pretty darn quickly, you quickly flick between the patients, keeping some stable whilst you perform procedures to assist the other ones and get them ready to be transported to a hospital. That aside, the real reason why this part of gameplay works so well is actually the method in which the game decides to deliver itself. It doesn’t hesitate to put you in the middle of things and give you a mission that gets your blood pumping. With some very clever background music being used for this point in time, and the overly energetic doctor’s pretty top-notch voice acting, First Response is a successful gameplay mode. It may not be the best, but it’s the sheer fun and excitement that you get out of it that makes it worthwhile.
There’s Orthopedics and that’s not worth spending much time to talk about. The story and plot that follows here is almost somewhat of a joke, and the missions themselves are a joke, with it all relying on you doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over until you either get frustrated and quit or the game just gives up and accepts that you’ve won. Whilst it’s not as tedious as it could be, it’s just…well, annoying to play. It’s one of those “play it to clear it and get to the finale, then never replay” kinda things. It’s also ridiculously easy, as I managed to S Rank all of the missions first time around.
Next up is Endoscopy. I…well, I don’t really know what I think of this. The earlier missions are actually pretty dull, and the control scheme is pretty off, and then I have to consider the whole lol japanese cliche” scenario…it doesn’t pick up until the end, but more on that later. Ultimately like Orthopedics, I rushed through these missions as quickly as I could, so that I can go to something i’d rather play.
Out of people I know who’ve played this game, they all consider Diagnostics to be the most famous of all gameplay modes. Why? Well, it varies from satisfyingly entertaining to feeling like pulling hairs. You play as a diagnostician, Doctor Gabriel Cummingham, and have to diagnose patients symptoms. This is done through talking to them, reading their X-Rays, listening to their bodily noises through a stethoscope and simply investigating them. This, in my opinion, is where things go pretty well. Diagnosing them from talking to the patient is interesting, and when you have an idea of what’s wrong, it becomes so easy to act and know what to do. However when you don’t know what you’re doing, it becomes pretty painful.
You have to read real X-Rays and CT Scans, things which; if you search on Google, you find are actually almost real. That’s both scary and awesome, when you think about it. Some people spend entire years learning to read X-Rays to find abnormal spots, and you’re asked to point out the needle in the haystack within hours of getting into the gameplay. If you don’t know what to do or why what you’re doing isn’t working, the gameplay in this mode is so unhelpful it borders on funny; especially since I actually ended up just randomly pointing at the scans and hoping I got it right, restarting the game when I didn’t. It’s simply this element of things which renders Diagnosis a really annoying gameplay mode, and it sucks even more that the story and characters in this one are actually pretty interesting.
Rounding out the bunch; Forensics puts you in the role of Doctor Naomi Kimishima, someone who you may recognize as the second doctor in Second Opinion. In this, you play a point-and-click adventure where you end up autopsying the body, and then trying to find out just how this person’s “torch” went out. It uses the very basic principles of Point and Click adventures, whilst doing all that it can to innovate the franchise and including it’s own little flair into things. If any of you have played the Phoenix Wright games, think of this mode as an upgraded version of that. The stories are compelling and fascinating, often throwing even experts of mystery off the scent, always having some sort of plot twist about the murder or some sort of underlying hint which all leads back to the main theme of Trauma Team, but…well, man.
This gameplay mode could possibly be my favourite part of it, simply based on the flair that they show here. The second case and the fourth case in particular are exceptionally brilliant, with talented writing and an absolutely wonderful idea seeping through the seems. If that’s not enough, the main character Naomi, is a fascinating woman. She says the most unusual things at times, and actually has the ability to hear the dying words of a corpse. This comes in handy during the cases, but more often than not, adds some sort of mystique element to the story. Knowing how someone died, and then unravelling it all…it’s exciting. There may not be a big reveal for any of these cases, but it’s the delivery of them all that is the killer aspect; which ultimately creates a gameplay mode in Trauma Team that I just can’t bring myself to complain about…especially when you enjoyed it as much as I did.
That’s the gameplay. However, I do need to have a special word about the final chapter of the game, because the plot for the custom illness and the way that it goes ahead and delivers this, with pretty powerful characterization and a very interesting flair for storytelling shine through over everything else, and that’s not even to touch on how they manage to combine everyone’s stories and abilities together, whilst putting in a tale about a tragedy and an epidemic. I didn’t see half of the things I expected here; they actually went above and beyond with their storytelling and made something that really is worthy of being it’s own game. All the gameplay styles come together in the way you’d expect; you diagnose the first victims, you treat hundreds of them as they arrive, you operate on a handful of the critical ones to save them, you analyse the corpses to find out what killed them and then you track down the source of it, thanks to Little Guy being in the FBI.
When it boils down to it, Trauma Team takes the successful formula of the first two games, tones down the difficulty a little whilst still having the insane difficulty on higher rankings, and makes it into more of a story/experience than a game. It’s something that I really enjoyed going through, and something that i’d really recommend to anyone looking for an “unusual” Wii game…or one of those so called hidden gems.