I will be forever glad that I didn’t study Medicine in college


Trauma Center: Under the Knife (2006)

So the latest dope is in – bacon and other forms of processed pork are carcinogenic. Bacon (hereafter to be referred to as rashers, I’m not very comfortable with Americanisms as you surely know) seems to have now been termed a big fat health risk by what the tabloids would call “boffins”. Is this some sort of WHO backlash? Have the morbidly obese of the world – and I mean the stop-and-stare fatties, the circus sideshows – been indulging in rashers just a little bit too much? I now heavily suspect that a memo of some sort was passed to Reuters and the Associated Press: “Look guys, we’ve done a survey among 1,000  fat messes asking them what on earth they actually eat, how they manage to give themselves a gravitational pull, and bacon is showing up way too often. It’s time we killed it for good”.

Well, if my harebrained theory is even halfway true, all I can say is, thanks fatties. Thanks to all of you for almost literally taking yet more food out of our mouths. Fatshaming? I don’t care. You know, all joking and divilment aside, I’ve finally come to realise that my health may just be important, and probably it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to begin exercising quite a bit more (more than what? Nothing?) and eating just a little less bile.

Obviously my primary motivation for this is to look a lot better in clothes and to look even better naked, this particular motivation being directly influenced by, in Mills and Boone parlance, carnal desires. But a secondary motivation seemed to add itself to my consciousness last year and assumed an immediate urgency, and that was that I probably shouldn’t put myself in a position years down the line where my heart, my one and only good heart, is liable to explode in a bloody fit of glory.

What you’re telling me now, dear scientists and doctors and boffins and bookreaders and bespectacled men and geeky journalists, is that I may as well not have bothered myself with pursuing a healthy lifestyle? That bacon and the like were so potent and cancer-ridden that I sowed the seeds for my own downfall from very early on in my life, and have just been compounding the perils ever since?

Gosh, if I can’t smoke, drink, consume drugs or eat rashers, what on Earth can I do that won’t put me in a hospital bed? What if oxygen is mildly carcinogenic and the increased oxygen I take onboard from cardio exercise has effectively brought the Grim Reaper’s scythe quite a bit closer to my Gregory? Do the fatties have it right after all? Should we all just indulge ourselves as heavily as possible, because we’re going to die in horrible agony anyway?

Well, I’ve decided to run with my paranoia and draw my conclusion – no matter what I do now, I am absolutely destined to fail. Any endeavour of mine is going to be a loser. There are useful, almost magical ways of delaying my slow and painful death, but failure (typically of the vital organs) is absolutely inevitable.

Good news for wouldbe Trauma Center players, then, who ought to be aware of one thing: although the entire premise of the game is that you are an anime superhuman young surgeon who finds himself in a stunted world of corruption that probably would have made syndication if there were more guns and breasts, you aren’t going to save many people.

Oh sure, many victims come your way, and a whole story (that always seems one or two shudder-inducing steps away from turning into some wicked anime datesim) is built up to explain the mystery virus that your luckless patients are coming to you with, demanding your immediate help before they perish into the Shadow Realm. But these people are just about unsaveable. Why? It’s simple – Trauma Center is one of the most shockingly difficult and finicky games I have ever performed stylus surgery on.

I should have known really. The DS touch-screen was great fun at the time, and brought with it some wonderful innovative and fun games as well as Phantom Hourglass. But it was an early touch-screen, you know, not exactly refined, and probably not especially suited to surgery I would have thought. So when you take up your scalpel or your sutures or even your nifty laser gun, your aim probably isn’t going to be very true and you will likely end up carving a map of the London Underground into your victim – ah, your patient.

And this isn’t good at all because, while a few of the cases early in the game are straightforward car crashes and domestics and leg breaks and foreign objects in rectal cavities (maybe), the “villain” of the game comes in the form of an especially nasty virus that reproduces in the patient before your very eyes.

To catch up with this devious strain of SuperAIDS, your lothario doctor has the ability to slow down time, the so called Healing Touch. Jesus Christ had a Healing Touch as well, but he couldn’t perform miracles as often as the ones you’ll need to execute if you and Doctor Stiles are to keep your casualty list low.

Do surgeons have a casualty list? Do they compare their workplace deaths and trade stories about them at lunchtime? “Oh no, couldn’t save that geezer, no chance. Well, I had a bittova night last night didn’t I, me hands were shaking weren’t they” “You shoulda seen the one I had. 24 stone and ‘is ‘eart had blown to bits. By the time I cut through the fat and the bacon rinds and the blubber his heart had bleedin’ stopped altogether hadn’t it, gone for a burton. Me nurse was going ape ‘n’ all, silly cow”

With all of that in mind, your chances of taking out this megavirus are not so good. Every patient you have is merely seconds away from the cold embrace of death, probably a blessed release given that some of the viruses look like nasty, spiky buggers indeed. This game was released at around the same time as my hair started going grey and do you know what, call me Poirot here but I think Trauma Center may just have caused it.

Well, it was an interesting little side-series of games, while it lasted, and at least one of the games are definitely worth playing. But you’re probably not going to see very much of what happens after the first few patients are dealt with. Put it this way, did you ever think you’d be disarming a time bomb with only a surgeon’s scalpel and a nubile young nurse to help?

Or, put another way, do you really think you’d be capable of pulling off something like that? It’s little wonder that most of the medical practitioners I know lead some of the unhealthiest lifestyles imaginable. Trauma Center is pretty good fun for a time, but if their working life resembles this game in any way, then those boys and girls need their bacon.

16 February 2018

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