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Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Globe and Mail Update

  • Reviewed on: Wii
  • Also available for: N/A


  • The Good: New scenarios; controls well on the Wii
  • The Bad: Same old difficulty spikes; half-hearted aesthetic upgrades
  • The Verdict: As intuitive on the Wii as Under the Knife was on the DS

While the Wiimote can more or less accurately replicate the grand gestures of bowling, baseball and boxing, I was interested to see whether Nintendo's unique motion-sensitive controller — touted as being more organic and less intimidating than traditional videogame controllers — could hold up during activities that require a little more precision.

You can't get much more precise than surgery, which is where Trauma Center: Second Opinion comes in. Second Opinion is actually an overhauled port of Trauma Center: Under the Knife, which Atlus developed for the Nintendo DS handheld.

The surgery simulation made brilliant use of the Nintendo DS's PDA-like interface, and as it turns out, Trauma Center also works rather well on the Wii.

Calling Dr. Stiles

Trauma Center is set in the chaotic, life-or-death environment of the hospital operating room, and focuses on the lives of the doctors who work there — in particular, the young up-and-coming trauma surgeon Derek Stiles.

Players might find themselves removing glass shards from a car accident victim's internal organs one minute, and burning polyps off of a rock singer's vocal chords the next. The Wii Remote stands in for numerous surgical tools, and is used to make incisions, apply bandages and healing cream, suction blood, administer needles, and remove foreign objects with forceps, among other things.

The plot ultimately ends up veering off into sci-fi territory: Stiles discovers he has a superhuman ability called the Healing Touch, and routine surgical procedures give way to ridding patients' bodies of alien-like parasites called GUILT.

Using the Wiimote

With the exception of the scalpel, which the DS stylus doubled for perfectly, the surgical tools are all generally as easy if not slightly easier to control using the Wiimote. This has to do with the fact that the DS stylus is basically a one-trick pony capable of tapping and dragging, while the Wiimote's ability to rotate, measure depth and partner with the Nunchuk attachment gives it added versatility.

For example, the forceps become a much more intuitive tool using the Wiimote because you're able to grasp objects by pinching the A and B buttons together.

The ability to "dual-wield" the Wiimote in one hand and Nunchuk in the other (with its eight-directional joystick) is an inspired combination that streamlines surgeries considerably. Instead of having to tap the corresponding graphic to select one of eight surgical tools, the player can simply flick the Nunchuk's joystick in a particular direction to choose a tool on the fly, allowing the other hand (holding the Wiimote) to stay focused on performing the procedure.

This is in contrast to the DS version, where the flow of surgery would constantly have to be interrupted as the player switched tools.

Second Opinion also expands the usability of certain tools by making use of some of the Wiimote's unique motion-sensing features. The defibrillator, for example, works by thrusting both the Nunchuck and Wii Remote forward and pressing the Z and B buttons at the correct moment to create an electronic charge.

The ability to twist the Wiimote and rotate objects is also used to great effect. One scenario calls for the surgeon to repair a fractured arm by rotating misaligned bone fragments back into place with the forceps.

Second time's a charm?

The game isn't without its problems. The difficulty still spikes cruelly in several places, and while there has been a slight overhaul of graphics and some snippets of voice acting added, Second Opinion still basically looks like a DS game.

However, on the positive side, the game incorporates a significant amount of new material. Many familiar operations have been given new twists to accommodate the new Wii-only procedures, and several entirely new scenarios have been added, including several that lead to a new game ending, as well as a kind of side-story featuring female doctor Nozomi Weaver, who also has the Healing Touch.

The sheer originality of the surgery concept, and the fact that gameplay is so uniquely suited to the Wii, is what ultimately makes Second Opinion succeed. If you missed out on this gem the first time around on the DS, you owe it to yourself to give its big brother a try.

Recommend this article? 24 votes

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