Well, this goes some way towards explaining why waits are so long in hospitals. If Hysteria Hospital is anything to go by, they're all managed by single nurses who must oversee the payroll and facilities departments in between stripping soiled bed sheets and picking up prescriptions. Spare a thought for these masters of mundane multitasking before you complain about the speed of service next time you get a case of Wii elbow or a DS cartridge lodged in your eye. Years of university, medical training and debt for this?
Hysteria Hospital is not, despite appearances, anything close to a certain Bullfrog hospital simulator. It's a game reliant on time and resource management; think of it as something like Diner Dash or Cake Mania, only with buckets of paracetamol. Your job is to treat as many patients as possible within a time limit, all the while meeting monetary targets so that your put-upon nurse can work their way through something resembling a medical career. Patients will queue up in your reception area, from where they must be dragged to a doctor for diagnosis. Once analysed, they can be moved to the appropriate treatment area/s - which one is indicated by a thought bubble over the ill person's head - and the nurse must be directed to collect prescriptions to activate the next stage of treatment. Finally, once the person is skipping home without a care in the world, your nurse must clean out whatever mess the ex-patient has left in their bed so that it's ready for the next potential MRSA victim.
It starts off extremely easygoing - treatments involve patients having to sit in bed with some drugs before departing. However, things soon ramp up as multiple patients appear at once, the procedures complicate and everything goes to pot. The ill don't have the level of patience that your saintly nurse apparently does, as if their life meter trickles down they shout abuse at you and go elsewhere, and so you must constantly juggle your priorities to avoid losing custom - though you can pack people you're sure you won't be able to treat in time into a handy ambulance without incurring penalty. Your hospital increases in storeys over time, so you have to click between up to three different floors and navigate patients around; luckily the pharmacy remains the same everywhere, possibly thanks to the same technology that allows later treatment areas to look and act like things that could have fallen off the back of a Starship Enterprise. Oh, and on top of everything else the nurse has to mend broken machines with tools (also dispensed from the pharmacy), purchase equipment and adjust budgets for staff wages, maintenance and the pharmacy (the higher the pay, the faster and more reliable the services are). Time to get to the Job Centre, methinks.
If increasing gradually in difficulty isn't for you, you can hop right into the endless mode instead, which is purely a high score challenge to see how long you can keep going. This comes in three flavours: easy is a single floor affair, medium has two floors and hard has everything the game can throw at you. It's a pretty good way to see everything that the game has to offer right out of the box if you can't be bothered going through the hours of normal play.
While it can be a challenging little timewaster - particularly when extra floors are added - Hysteria Hospital does have its shortfalls. Firstly, though it is pitched as a budget title, you can find cheaper online games with a similar level of content. Secondly, though it's a little addictive, it gets repetitive treating the same diseases over and over again, and the basic gameplay mechanic remains the same throughout - drag patient, drop patient, click area so nurse collects something, click equipment so nurse delivers something. Thirdly, and most damningly, the touch screen control isn't as accurate as it should be; there are occasions where you'll be trying to direct the nurse to the bed only for them to traipse over to a machine positioned in front of it instead, or there'll be difficulty in clicking on a patient to move them to the next area, both of which lead to vital seconds being lost. It's not frequent enough to ruin the game, but the risk is always there. Still, as a whole it's better than a bout of swine flu, and if you do end up afflicted by the media's latest overhyped plaything you'll have more than enough hours laid up at home, gobbling Tamiflu, to justify giving a couple of them away to Hysteria Hospital.
There's only one basic gameplay mechanic, but it is strangely addictive.
Some cute little animations, but there's nothing in there to challenge DS.
Forgettable music and repetitive voice samples.
There are cheaper alternatives as online games, but there is quite a lot of game in here even if it is all basically the same thing.
I'd like to think that Hysteria Hospital's creation was all a ploy to highlight the troubles of overworked nurses everywhere, but that's probably not the case. Instead, it's a pretty decent, and mildly addictive, game that could have been much better - losing the repetition would have been a good start.