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Game #2079
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Theme Hospital    View all Top Dogs in this genre
Strategy   Business

Rating: 8.69 (2633 votes)

Theme Hospital box cover

Theme Hospital screenshot
Theme Hospital is a highly original game that unfortunately sports too many monotonous levels and too easy gameplay to sustain long-term play value. As the name suggests, it puts you in charge of a hospital, and your job is to cure a given number of patients before going broke, or being overtaken by armies of angry, sick people. In each level, you'll build a new hospital from scratch to meet more challenging goals than the last. The game's highlight is definitely the diseases, which, similar to the sins in LucasArts' Afterlife, are imaginative and all very funny. Ailments range from the mundane, such as baldness (ouch), bloaty heads (?), and bone fractures, to the more exotic such as exposure to radiation, invisibility, and slack tongue. Most diseases require their own treatment/operating rooms, so you must observe the clients' patterns and plan the hospital layout carefully to ensure that every patient can get to the reception area, then the diagnosis area, then to the appropriate treatment room in as straight a line as possible. Similar to Theme Park, as you expand your hospital you can purchase the adjacent plots. Watching the patients roam the hospital from room to room is very enjoyable – especially since you can zoom in on each patient (like all Bullfrog games) to learn their name and condition.

Unfortunately, Theme Hospital is simply too easy for all but the most inexperienced gamers. It is very hard to lose a level, unless you overspend ridiculously, and even then you can usually recover, with time. You can win easily by agreeing to all pay raise requests to keep the best staff, and doing research regularly. One of the few things that *can* make you lose a level is the epidemic, which occur on later levels. It requires you to frantically scan your hospital for patients with contagious markers on them, vaccinating them, and curing them before the health inspector arrives. lest you take a financial hit and a reputation loss. There are also emergency situations, similar to the special deliveries in Railroad Tycoon: if you choose to accept one, you get a helicopter full of sick patients who must all be treated in a time limit for a cash bonus. These events, and also earthquakes, do add some adrenaline rush to an otherwise staid game, but gameplay is overall very repetitive, and easy. After the first seven levels or so, you'll have seen all you can in the game, and from then on it's just a matter of using the same strategy over and over. A "random hospital" option similar to SimCity would have made the game much better. As it stands, Theme Hospital is still highly recommended for its quirky, original gameplay, but don't expect this to replace Civilization's permanent slot on your hard drive. Two thumbs up!

Special shout-outs to Ian's fanpage that's chock-full of information and strategies, and has been up for twenty years already as of writing this. Link below.

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Unknown
Developer: Bullfrog
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Year: 1997
Software Copyright: Bullfrog
Theme: Humorous
System Requirements: DOS
Where to get it:
Related Links: Ian's Theme Hospital Clinic, Tomislav Filipcic's Fan Site (archived)
If you like this game, try: Theme Park, SimHealth, Biing!

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