Hospitals are boring and dull. They're all the same; there is nothing interesting about them, and everything inside is white and quiet. The people at Bullfrog, however, seriously disagree with this. A hospital is a crazy place to their way of thinking, and the amount of creativity they have shown in designing their own view of hospital care is tremendous.
Your task is to run your hospital in best way you can. Concerns to look after are reputation, percentage of cured patients, bank balance, value of your hospital and number of cured patients. There is no sand-box mode, just 12 missions to beat. It looks like a small obstacle, right? Wrong! The first 6 missions are a walk in the park, but the next 6 are hell -- and I mean hell! Every mission has its demands, and when you fulfill them you move on to the next, tougher, mission. This game is hard, so you should arm yourself with patience if you want to beat it fair & square.
Every mission starts with an empty hospital, and the first thing you need is a Reception Desk (which requires a receptionist, of course) and a GP Office (which requires a doctor). Next, you must build various diagnosis rooms (like Cardiogram, X-Ray, or Scanner), treatment rooms, and clinics (Fracture Clinic, Inflation Room, Pharmacy, Psychiatric Room, Ward, etc.) that require nurses or doctors. The hospital under your guidance must be a clean place (and when patients are throwing garbage around, and occasionally throw up their lunch, its not an easy task), so you should hire handymen. They can also maintain equipment and water plants around your hospital. All the personnel grow tired after a while, and need to rest in a Staff Room. Some doctors are not that good, so you need to improve them in the Training Room. Patients like to feel warm (place radiators around the hospital) and don't like to be thirsty (drinks machines are needed) while waiting to be cured. Also, they are in need of a toilet now and then. A Research Department is very important, because your doctors must find out about new diseases and how (or maybe "with what lunatic machines") to treat them. In time you’ll need to buy more land and space for expanding the hospital.
Doctors, as the most important members of your staff, have various levels of ability (low, medium, high), seniority (junior, doctor, consultant), and skills (surgeon, psychiatrist, researcher). These factors will determine how quickly they will carry out their tasks and which tasks they can carry out; for example, only surgeons can operate on patients, and only consultants can teach low level doctors in the Training Room. Handymen and nurses have only one skill level. If someone on your staff becomes unhappy, they will ask for a pay increase, and if you decline they will leave the hospital.
Various events can occur, such as earthquakes that damage your equipment, emergencies -- when group of patients with the same disease come via helicopter to your hospital with immediate demand for care -- and epidemics (most annoying in the opinion of yours truly) when your hospital is flooded by patients with some spreading disease. And if the health inspector catches you with an epidemic on your hands, your reputation and bank balance will go down. At the end of each year, you can get certain bonuses (e.g. $10 000 for not killing any patients) or penalties (e.g. a reputation drop due to a dirty hospital).
And now, the best thing about this game: Diseases, an area where Bullfrog’s eccentric sense of humour comes to its peak. Here are some examples to give you a better picture...
Cause - Sniffing cheese and drinking unpurified rainwater.
Symptoms - Very uncomfortable for the sufferer.
Cure - The swollen head is popped, then reinflated to the correct PSI using a clever machine.
Cause - Being bitten by radioactive (and invisible) ants.
Symptoms - Patients suffer no discomfort. Indeed, many use the condition to play practical jokes on their families.
Cure - A colourful liquid drunk in the Pharmacy soon restores the patient to full observability.
Cause - The spirit of the King entering the patient's mind and taking over.
Symptoms - Donning of colourful suede footwear and eating cheeseburgers.
Cure - A Psychiatrist tells the patient how ridiculous he or she looks.
Cause - Eating pizza found under the cooker.
Symptoms - Ugh. Surely you can guess.
Cure - A glutinous mix of stringy pharmaceutical chemicals solidify the patients innards.
Cause - Chronic overdiscussion of soap operas.
Symptoms - Tongue swells to five times its original length.
Cure - The tongue is placed in the Slicer Machine, and removed quickly, efficiently, and painfully.
...I think that does it.
The graphics are cartoonish and very nice. The craziness is upped to even greater levels by appealing to the eye with some unique illustrations. When you see a man who looks like Big Foot come into your hospital and complain about Hairyitis, it’s quite hilarious.
The sound bank is ok, and the music is fine; though you may want to decrease the volume because it can be loud sometimes.
Old games are like wine, they are getting better over time. As newer games are just getting worse and worse -- duller and shorter without having any value -- gems like Theme Hospital remind us that games used to be hard & challenging, with a good idea and concept, and most important of all... they were fun!