I first played Theme Hospital many years ago, and it has been my favorite DOS game to date. Now, since I like the game, let’s rip it apart!
Theme Hospital is made by Bullfrog. This is another classic game, along with Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper (both made by the same developer). However, Bullfrog was bought out by EA, and now the whole division has been murdered.
Here is a random fact: the game saves. So, you won’t have to start over every time you play (take notes Super Mario Bros)! There is a multiplayer option, but only in newer revisions of the game (notably the GOG version, but I think there was a disk version with multiplayer).
You start with the hospital closed, you then have time to build it up so you can start murdering innocent lives by giving them the wrong medicine!
One problem I’ve noticed is that the biggest challenge is not the one they intended. The challenge is running out of room, not curing patients. There is no challenge with creating the rooms, however, as it gives you the rooms as you need them (or you can research all of the rooms when necessary). There are many rooms, cosmetic items and other extras to create.
You need to hire staff (obviously). Some have special abilities like being a psychiatrist. The level of the person dictates how fast they walk, how good they are at their job, and how much they slack off on the job. There are doctors, nurses, receptionists and handymen you can hire.
The game includes a few tools to help you with your hospital experience. There is a staff management screen, a map screen, a casebook, research, stats, charts and your hospital policy.
The graphics look really nice. It is pixel art, yet it still retains a unique charm. There is a mode for low-res graphics, but you can just ignore that (unless you run the game on a potato, then you can’t). Sadly, the game looks worse as time goes on due to the resolution being low.
The music is pretty good. It fits the game, but it doesn’t get in your way. It’s nowhere near the quality of Mario, Sonic, Megaman and other major franchises (excluding Bubsy), but it’s not bad. Just not too memorable.
Should you get this game? If you enjoy other Bullfrog simulators, I would recommend it. It is very unique – this may be a good thing, but may also be the source of many problems.
I am aware that there is a fan project called CorsixTH that improves the game in almost every aspect. This is the definitive way to play Theme Hospital, so I would recommend playing this version over the original. You can play the game at a lovely 1080p, and makes it look much more polished.