TRAUMA CENTER : UNDER THE KNIFE / Atlus / Nintendo DS
Want all the stress of being an emergency surgeon without the pay or the ability to pick up chicks? Pick up a copy of Trauma Center today!
Trauma Center is sort of the Phoenix Wright of the hospital ... not really the same in terms of gameplay, as this one is action-based using the stylus, but it has the same sort of "visual novel" aesthetic with an ongoing mystery-drama sort of plot. You play as an intern who has just graduated to becoming a full-fledged surgeon, and you guide him through increasingly complex surgery cases.
Most of the surgeries are timed - the patient's "vitals" level continually drops, and if you screw up it usually causes large chunks of "vitals" to be taken off. It's basically similar to real surgical procedures, but heavily simplified. You use the stylus to apply antibacterial gel, make incisions, inject stuff, suture wounds, and apply bandages among other things.
While it has a passable story, and the gameplay is both interesting and pretty well executed (though not original - there were a couple of old PC games from the late 80s-early 90s that did this same idea), Trauma Center has a huge hang-up, and that is the difficulty level. The way in which you have to move the stylus is pixel-perfect finicky in a lot of cases, causing a lot of frustration - particularly if you don't have steady hands (no coffee or Rockstar before surgery, kids).
Ultimately, I felt the game was like taking an extended, really difficult test at school that did absolutely nothing at all to further my knowledge or help my grade. Maybe that's just my slant, but I play games to unwind, have fun and relax - and all this one did was stress me out and make me want to stop playing. If you are a stress addict, or one of those headband-wearing "I gotta be NO. 1!" challenge addicts, then this one might work for you. Otherwise I would steer clear.
* Gameplay Video