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LifeSigns: Surgical Unit

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LifeSigns: Surgical Unit

LifeSigns: Surgical Unit
(PAL) LifeSigns: Hospital Affairs
256px
Developer(s) Spike
Publisher(s)
Platform(s) Nintendo DS
Release date(s)
  • JP October 20, 2005[1]
  • NA November 6, 2007
  • EU July 25, 2008
Genre(s) Adventure game
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution 64MB + 64KB EEPROM

LifeSigns: Surgical Unit (研修医 天堂独太2~命の天秤~ Kenshūi Tendō Dokuta 2: Inochi no Tenbin?, lit. "Resident Doctor Tendo 2: The Scales of Life"), released in Europe as LifeSigns: Hospital Affairs, is an adventure game for the Nintendo DS set in a hospital. LifeSigns is the followup to Kenshuui Tendō Dokuta, a game released at the end of 2004; that game has yet to be released outside of Japan, although the localized LifeSigns still makes reference to it.

The game is commented as being "like Phoenix Wright crossed with Trauma Center",[2] unlike Trauma Center, this game also placed emphasis on the daily life of the characters rather than surgeries.[3]

LifeSigns received mixed reviews from critics. Some reviews had praised the game for the realistic hospital setting and large amounts of character interaction, while others had criticized the game for "a heavy dose of conversations", unbalanced gameplay, and the feel of the game being "less like a game."[4] Metacritic.com, based on 17 reviews of the game, holds an average critical score of 61 out of 100.

Characters

Seimei Medical University Hospital

Dokuta Tendo (Age 25, Male) A second-year intern at the prestigious Seimei Medical University Hospital. He is studying Emergency medicine. He can be a little naive but he is very talented. He devoted his life to helping people after seeing his mother die of cancer. In the first game, he misdiagnosed a patient, which nearly ruined his career. His surname is derived from the English word "doctor", transliterated with katakana.

Sachi Hoshi(Age 22, Female) A nurse who has been working at the hospital 1 year before Tendo. She seems to be careless at times, but nonetheless, she is a talented and devoted nurse. She seems to have a crush on Tendo. She is one of the girls Tendo can date later in the game.

Suzu Asou (Age 36, Female)

An extremely gifted surgeon, Asou is Tendo's supervisor and mentor. She recently got over her alcoholism after a disastrous break-up with Prof. Sawai (first game). She is the head of the 3rd Surgery Department, which specializes in heart diseases. Tendo seems to have a crush on her. She wears a bell choker around her neck.

Kyousuke Sawai (Age 52, Male)

A world authority in the field of immunology, and head of the 1st Surgical Department of Seimei Medical University Hospital. A cold and callous man who only seems to be interested in results. In the first game, it was revealed that he was Tendo's biological father and arranged his transfer to the Seimei. He is involved in the cancer treatment research and recently developed a miracle drug that might cure cancer called SPX (Sawai Power Plex). He also dated Suzu Asou for a short time which ended disastrously a few years ago. He is operated by Tendo in the final chapter, after a ballpoint pen pierced his heart in a car accident.

Yuma Aoshima (Age 24, Female)

The newest intern in the Seimei, Aoshima is an ambitious and stubborn girl who seems to enjoying eating more than anything else in the world. Because of her inexperience, she makes many mistakes at the beginning of her career in Seimei. She is one of the girls Tendo can date in the final chapter.

Ai Ueto (Age 26, Female)

A pediatrician who started her internship a year before Tendo. She was Hikaru's doctor when she was treated in Seimei. She recently switched to glasses after deciding her shades were giving her a cold appearance. According to Florence, it is rumoured that she has a new boyfriend.

Keiichi Kashiwagi (Age 47, Male)

A fat, balding doctor specializing in internal medicine.

Florence Makiko Sakurada (Age 60, Female)

Chief Nurse of Seimei. She loves gossiping and seems to know whatever is going on in the hospital. Her nickname "Florence" is obviously a reference to famous nurse Florence Nightingale.

Sanae Kurai (Age 28, Female)

An operation room nurse who has a gloomy and mysterious personality. Despite her initial impression, she is one of the three girls Tendo can date in the game.

Utsujiu Masui (Age 30, Male)

An eccentric anesthesiologist who is interested in Hoshi. He is married and has children but was recently kicked out of his house by his wife for some unknown reason.

Hikaru Sawai (Age 10, Female)

Prof. Sawai's daughter and Tendo's stepsister. Hikaru was diagnosed with leukemia in the first game and was being treated in the Seimei. She recovered and returned to school when Tendo donated his bone marrow to her. Despite the tension between Prof. Sawai and Tendo, he and Hikaru are quite fond of each other.

Gameplay

LifeSigns is separated into five separate chapters, dealing with the main story in an episodic format. Each chapter contains one or more of the following elements:

Exploring

The first type of gameplay is common to all Japanese adventure games. The main character, Tendo, explores an area, conversing with other people and furthering the story.

Mini-games

There are many mini-games in Lifesigns, which can in some way affect the course of the story. Most mini-games involve simple tasks, such as catching fruit that's rolling down a hill, or catching fish.

  • Persuasion - On occasion, the story will split, and can follow a different path. It is up to the player, in this mini game, to convince another person to do something. If the player is successful, then the story will continue along the good path. If not, then the episode may have a bad ending.

Diagnoses

When someone is sick or injured, the player may need to diagnose the patient and decide what is wrong with them. Diagnosis commonly involves taking a patient's pulse, listening to their breathing, and examining abrasions, bruises, and swelling.

Surgery

After diagnosing a patient, the player must perform surgery on them. During the surgery phase of the game, the player must perform a series of simple steps, one at a time, from disinfecting an area and making an incision, to the surgery itself, and finally closing the patient up. Unlike Trauma Center, the player in LifeSigns is automatically handed the tool they need at each stage. There are a total of nine different operations in LifeSigns.(Though the number of surgeries the player does depends on the path the player takes)

Reception

LifeSigns received a mixed reception. Based on 17 reviews, metacritic.com had an average critic score of 61 out of 100.[5]

Some reviewers praised the game for having a more realistic hospital setting as opposed to a more fictional one in Trauma Center. Some also praised the large amount of character interaction, which mainly came from Sanosuke of ZTGameDomain, who gave the game its biggest praise, "I'm having trouble typing this today, as my left hand is sore from playing Lifesigns so much yesterday. And when a game compels me to play to the point of arthritis, that my friends, is a good thing.".[6] However, Sanosuke also pointed out how there is "A little less trial and error in diagnosis", and how a few aspects of surgery functionality may aggravate.[7] ZTGameDomain has given LifeSigns an 8.5/10.

Some of the game's criticism had been the fact that it "feels more like an interactive storybook than an actual game."[8] GameShark.com's review states, "It’s like reading a book where you drop paragraphs into order. This is a tremendous flaw after all; this is a game, not a movie." Level (Czech Republic) had noted the unbalanced gameplay and that it "slips to boredom gibberish." Although many reviewers have noted the large amounts of conversations that goes on in between missions, as many conversations must take place before further medical progress will happen. Chris Adams of IGN stated in a closing comment about the game, "The game needed some streamlining, or at least more pressing decision-making within all these conversations, rather than mindless drag and drop."[9] Games Master UK states, "Heavy on text, low on game, which makes it less fun than "Trauma Center."[4] Nintendo World Report describes the inability to skip the long conversations as "a tedious and frustrating process." Tracy Erickson of Pocket Gamer UK remarks, "Almost all of your time is spent tapping through conversations instead of actually examining patients and performing operations. This makes for a remarkably boring game, if Lifesigns can even be called a game."[10] GameShark.com concludes, "Finally, the fact you can’t actually do anything to affect any of the game’s outcomes is somewhat ridiculous, and in the end makes it difficult to recommend."

Despite the large amount of negative reviews by video game critics, the game fared better with the public, receiving a 7.0/10 from Metacritic based on public scores.

References

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