Thursday, February 17, 2011

Theme Hospital

John Marine | 2/17/2011 06:40:00 PM |
(UPDATED: June 16, 2012)

Theme Hospital from EA's Bullfrog division was a simulation PC game where you built and maintained your own hospital. You had to build your hospital while taking on three rival hospitals. This wasn't just any so-so hospital. Oh, no- you have a hospital with many weird ailments. How would you like to be diagnosed with ailments like these: Bloaty Head, Slack Tongue, Uncommon Cold, Heaped Piles, Invisibility, and things like that? You have to hire a dedicated staff of doctors, nurses, handymen, and a receptionist. You have many different facilities to diagnose patients and cure them. You have different obstacles to encounter as well as attending to various emergencies. Theme Hospital will drive you crazy with its unique simulation action. Therefore, I'm here to blog about this classic game.


JUN 16 2015 - one single edit to embedded material

--- Theme Hospital at a Glance ---

Theme Hospital
^ from: - Theme Hospital cover. Welcome to the insane world of healthcare!

Released by Bullfrog (a division of Electronic Arts in the United Kingdom, now known as Electronic Arts UK) in 1998, Theme Hospital is a lighthearted and funny game where the name of the game is healthcare. Theme Hospital has twelve levels including various bonus stages. Your goal with the hospitals in the game is to accomplish five different objectives while also attending to various challenges in each scenario. You have a certain salary for which to build your hospital with. In addition, you are battling against three other rival hospitals who are trying to accomplish the same goals that you are trying to accomplish for your hospital. Various challenges await you in Theme Hospital. Among the many challenges is dealing with various ailments, having VIPs visit your hospital, handling crisis situations, and more. Can you handle the pressure?

Here is a brief look at what you will be facing...

The Staff.

Without a well-appointed staff, your hospital just collects dust and goes nowhere fast. Here are the kinds of staff you can employ to your hospital.

• You have Doctors dedicated to diagnosing patients and curing ailments. They are the only members of your staff that have individual seniority and qualification ranks. The game starts to warn you when your hospital has more than five doctors. You can add more doctors or let go of some of your underperforming doctors.

• Hire Nurses for rooms like Pharmacies, the Ward, and in later levels, rooms like the Fracture Clinic.

• Your Handymen are responsible for keeping the hospital maintained. They share many responsibilities, ranging from watering plants, cleaning up trash, and repairing machines. You can adjust the priorities of Handymen to have one take on certain tasks more than others. So a Handyman whose preference is set more towards watering plants will pay more attention to plants in your hospital rather than clean up garbage or repair machines. Place a Handyman over a pile of garbage or puke to have him clean it up immediately. The more Handymen you have in your hospital, the cleaner and more efficient it will be.

• Without a Receptionist, no one will come to your hospital or have any idea where to go in your hospital. Finding a Receptionist is the first hire you should make. Just be sure to have a Receptionist Desk for her to operate from. They NEVER get tired or have to go to the Staff Room. She is essentially the heart of your hospital.

So get to hiring!

The Rooms.

There are four kinds of facilities for which to furnish your hospital- Diagnosis, Treatment, Clinic, and Facilities. Pay attention to any room that has a machine. These machines will need to be maintained regularly to prevent from malfunctioning. You will need to page a Handyman to properly maintain all machines your hospital may have.

The Diagnosis rooms are vital to properly determining what illnesses your patients have. Only one Diagnosis room- the Psychiatry office- can also serve as a place of treatment. The most important of the Diagnosis rooms is the GP (General Practice) Office. This room is needed so that patients' illnesses can be brought to your attention. The patients will pay for General Practice and may go to other Diagnosis rooms to further evaluate a certain patient. The more Diagnosis facilities you set up, the better able you will be to diagnose illnesses. These Diagnosis rooms are vital in properly determining what conditions your patients have.

The Treatment facilities consist of various rooms devoted to curing illnesses. One of the most basic of the Treatment rooms is the Pharmacy. The Pharmacy requires a nurse to dispenses medicine to treat certain ailments. Some Diagnosis rooms are also available in this menu of rooms. Therefore, you don't need to make two different facilities to handle the same issue. The only exception is if you are building another of one room elsewhere in the hospital (for example, building another Pharmacy elsewhere in the hospital).

Various Clinics are available for you to cure certain illnesses that require a fancy machine. These are high-tech facilities that require some sort of device to cure patients. Your first clinic will be the Inflator room, which is used to treat patients diagnosed with a Bloaty Head. The most important thing to remember about Clinics is that the machines need to be maintained constantly. Therefore, you must hire a Handyman to regulary repair and maintain machines in Clinics. You may also request to order a new machine for that room. If a machine in a Clinic becomes overused without regular maintenance, the device may explode, and that room will pretty much be useless. It helps to have a fire extinguisher in the room with a certain device.

While the three aforementioned rooms are vital to your hospital, Facilities play an equally important role for both your hospital and your patients. It is vital to build a Staff Room so your staff can relax after putting in lots of work. Also important is building a bathroom so your patients won't soil your hospital. More Facilities will come later in the game, such as the Research Department, which can be crucial in enhancing drugs and developing new equipment.

Now that you have a basic look at Theme Hospital, I will expand upon it. I want you to know as much as possible about Theme Hospital before you consider buying it online. So please read the next section.

--- Getting Started in Theme Hospital ---

This section will help you get started with Theme Hospital. A variety of issues to be concerned with are mentioned here. I will give you a basic overview of some of the many things you should be concerned with in Theme Hospital.

Time is of the Essence!

The most important advice I can give about this game is that time is important. Unlike in SimCity games where you can pause time, you will need to put time down to the slowest setting. The easiest way to do this is to press the "1" key on your keyboard. You can still pause the game any time you like, but you will be unable to build or manage anything while the game is paused.

Know Your Goals.

When you start a certain level, you are met with certain goals you must meet. You are given five key objectives to meet in order to win a level: Reputation, Balance, Visitors Treated, Cures themselves, and Hospital Value.

• Reputation - maintain a decent reputation so that people regard your hospital as a great one people can go to and feel happy to be treated at.
• Balance - have a certain amount of money without dipping below this value to win.
• Visitors Treated - you must treat a certain percentage of patients to win in this category.
• Cures - a certain number of patients must be cured for you to win the level.
• Hospital Value - the value of your hospital, including all the items in it, must be at a certain level for you to win the level.

There are two other important things to remember in trying to reach these goals. One aspect to remember is that you are competing against three other rival hospitals. They are trying to accomplish the same goals for their respective hospitals that you are trying to accomplish for your own. The other important thing to remember is that as there are winning criteria, there are also losing criteria. You can lose a level, for example, for getting a certain number of patients killed. Some of these losing criteria can earn you Hall of Shame nominations at the end of the year as well as missing out on certain cash and reputation-yielding bonuses. Time is unlimited, but if you manage to accomplish all of your goals while your opposition fails to deliver on their respective ends, you win!

First Things First.

Before you can open any hospital, you need a Receptionist and a Receptionist Desk. The Receptionist plays a critical role for your hospital. She handles calls and also provides important information (as well as some useless blabber at times) to you. For example, she will let you know if a doctor or nurse is needed in a certain room. In later levels, you may need to have another receptionist at another end of a hospital building or in another hospital building on the site. Also in later levels, handling the queue for which patients should be attended to quicker plays a bigger role.

You need a Doctor and a GP Office. Otherwise, who will come to your hospital to be checked out? How can illnesses be properly diagnosed? The Receptionist is the heart of your hospital, and the GP Office is the artery to treating ailments. Both are needed if you have any hope of curing any patients.

Are You Any Good?

Staff members with low qualifications are good for saving money, but they can be fussy and inefficient. Staff members with high qualifications are very efficient at their job, but they cost more to hire. You may have a tough decision to make if a staff member's qualifications are in the middle. You can hire new staff members each month. Look for their qualifications as well as any convincing phrases that describe them. You're better off hiring someone who (for example) " very dedicated and cares about the job at hand" rather than someone who is "arrogant and fussy." If you have a Training room and a Consultant to teach there, you can have your ineffective doctors have their skills enhanced. You can afford to train your weaker Doctors because only Doctors can be trained to be more efficient. Don't worry about Training until later in the game.

Check Your Doctor's Ranks and Qualifications.

One thing you shouldn't worry about right away is the rank of a doctor. Doctors come in three ranks- Junior, Doctor, and Consultant. Consultants take on a greater role later in the game when you have to build a training room to enhance the skills of your doctors.

You need to pay attention to what qualifications your doctors you have. There are three Qualification sets- Psychiatrists, Researchers, and Surgeons. You know you need a Psychiatrist for the Psychiatry room, so it makes no sense to get a non-qualified doctor to be in the Psychiatry room. Do not worry about Researchers and Surgeons until later in the game. Researchers work in the Research Department to help enhance cure products as well as develop new technology. Researchers begin to play a key role once you set up a Research facility starting in Level 2. Surgeons work in the Operating Theater to cure patients, and you need two Surgeons for the room to be of any use.

Without giving away too much data, one of the later levels in the game starts you off with three Consultants, each with three different qualifications. You will need these Consultants to train your rookie doctors.

Bigger and Better.

It is a fact that doctors and nurses feel more important when in bigger rooms and rooms filled with more items. When I make a new room, I make sure to add windows for a more natural approach (except if there is a bathroom nearby). Building rooms allow you to add more items than the required items for each room. For example, you can furnish the Psychiatry room with more than the couch, the chair, and the screen. You can furnish that room with bookcases and a skeleton to help in training your Psychiatrists. Some items that can be used elsewhere in the hospital (like plants and radiators) can be provided to rooms to help freshen things up. Adding more useful items can help improve efficiency whatever purpose that room serves. Never be afraid to spend a little more money to enhance your hospital's rooms.

Some rooms allow you to equip them with newer items. For example, you can add an arcade machine to the Staff Room in later levels.

Hire Handymen.

Handymen are the ones who work to maintain your hospital. A Handyman can specifically be set to handle certain duties more than others. You can freely set these parameters with each Handyman. You can get Handymen to clean up trash and vomit, water plants, or maintain equipment. They play a significant role in helping your hospital remain prim and proper. Grab your Handymen and put them over trash or vomit to have him clean it up immediately.

Patience With Patients.

Patients don't like waiting. Patients need things like benches and bathrooms to help from making the hospital a mess. I remember in later levels that my patients were vomiting while waiting. My Handymen were really at work.

Patience With Staff.

Some staff members become unsatisfied and want a raise. You have three options- give them a raise, increase their salary, or sack them. You actually lose some money if you let a staff member go. This can be a problem even if you've hired the best staff money can buy. Then too, you don't need to wait until staff become disgruntled to give them a raise or a salary increase.

VIPs and Emergencies.

From time to time, a VIP will want to visit your hospital. It is usually an old guy in a black suit who walks very slowly. The VIP will walk around your hospital and evaluate it. He will go around to see how it is to him. If he likes your hospital, you will earn money from him. However much you are awarded depends on how much he likes your hospital. Before any of this, you have the option to allow or decline the VIP from visiting. Your reputation could take a hit if he doesn't like your hospital. Carefully consider inviting VIPs to your hospital.

Emergencies can happen where you must attend to a certain critical incident. This will put you and your staff under incredible stress to handle a critical situation. There is a time limit for these emergencies. Make sure everything is running efficiently. You can get a big reputation boost and be handsomely rewarded for handling an emergency situation. On the other hand, you may get totally disgraced if you fail to handle the emergency properly. The patients in an emergency situation immediately go to the room in your hospital for which their ailment can be treated (have you built that room yet?).

There may be times where certain situations may arise that impact your hospital. You may face things ranging from radiators losing heating power temporarily to even earthquakes (a big problem for one later level). Earthquakes can damage your hospital's major machines. Of course, things like trash and vomit from patients will test you and your Handymen's patience. There are also epidemics that may transpire. You always need to be vigilant in all aspects of the game.

Review Your Hospital's Policies.

(ADDED: February 9, 2012)
With your hospital's policy, you can adjust a number of factors. One such factor includes how much effort your hospital can exhaust their diagnostic efforts. If your hospital knows as much as possible about what illness he/she has but isn't entirely confident a cure will work, you may have to choose between making more Diagnosis rooms, taking a chance guessing the cure, or send the patient home. A number greater than 70% or 75% is a great number to take a chance at attempting to cure the patient successfully.

Your hospital has other policies concerning how tired a staff member must be before heading to the Staff Room and if doctors are allowed to enter rooms while other doctors are away.

Keep the Prices Right.

(ADDED: February 9 2012)
You may adjust the prices for your treatment options. Patients either pay full price or a certain percentage less or greater than full price. Charging a little more can help you gain more money from a cure. Be careful if you raise the prices of certain cures or services. If you price them too high, patients will leave your hospital. While curing patients is of top priority, nobody wants to pay more than they have to in getting cured. Consider your patients' finances in mind.

Money and Year-Ending Issues.

Every month, wages will be deducted from your balance. It can be tough trying to keep a hospital financially stable while paying wages. You may need to take out a loan of up to $5,000 to stay afloat. Paying back the loan can be very tricky (and sometimes frustrating), though. Make sure you have a good deal of profit before even thinking of repaying a loan.

At the end of every year is a look at honors and dishonors. There is a Hall of Fame and a Hall of Shame depending on your score. What you were able to accomplish for that year is commemorated with plaques and trophies. Earning top honors or dishonors for something nets you bonuses. Honors yield you bonuses in money and in reputation. Dishonors give you hits in money or other items. One of the best honors to aim for is the honor for not killing any patients for that year. This bonus yields you $10,000.

You Win... Now What?

If you win your stage, you don't have to go immediately to the next level. You can stay at your current hospital and try to work towards going to a better hospital for a better salary. I usually move on to the next hospital.

Those are among the many things to be concerned with. The rest is up to you!

--- Overall Thoughts on Theme Hospital ---

Theme Hospital is one of the finest sim games other than any SimCity title. It has loads of humorous and fun content to be enjoyed for quite some time. I even found myself laughing to a lot of the humor this game provides even when I first played the demo back in 1997. I am still able to flawlessly play this game in XP (or maybe with some Compatibility Settings) playing the Windows version of this game. The complaints are only minor to me. The biggest gripe is perhaps how the game can be frustrating in the later levels.

--- Theme Hospital Preview ---

Here is a look at "Theme Hospital," courtesy of my YouTube friend, CuteFloor:

So you have my endorsement- Theme Hospital is worth playing even in this day and age. Want to buy this game? I found it on Amazon for you here:

^ "Theme Hospital" for Windows.

One BIG Recommendation...

To make the game easier and to provide more enjoyment for you, you need to install the Theme Hospital patch. It will allow you to play this game on an easier or harder difficulty, engage in online play, allow you to completely restart levels (starting from scratch), and more. You can download the demo of Theme Hospital as well as the patch for the Retail version at this link.

Thank you for reading! And also thank you for keeping this blog post popular. I hope my look at Theme Hospital has been to your liking. This game is a real classic.

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