If there was an award for strangeness, this might just win. Anyone who remembers playing operation as a kid may well get an extra level of enjoyment out of this bizarre operation sim for the Nintendo DS. The DS' touch screen can apparently double for an operating table and the stylus can take on form of many medical instruments and supplies. This, if I haven't already said, is one strange game.
In the short demo on display I was presented with a patient who wasn't doing too well. Being an avid ER viewer it was clear that this guy had a problem with his arm, most likely a cut or burn of some kind. After reading the information given by the nurse it was revealed that the man had been cut by glass and had some glass fragments buried in his arm. Luckily for me, I seemed to have just the right instruments for the job.
The operation itself is now a bit of a blur, with the pressure of the situation really getting to me. I remember cleaning the wound, cutting into the skin (after marking it first), removing the glass, stopping the bleeding, stitching and dressing the wound and applying a bandage. All of these tasks were performed by selecting the tool from the menu surrounding the patient and then using the stylus. It really was very simple, but when you have a man's life in your hands (or on the end of your stylus), that is a good thing.
What was hard to tell from the demo is how much longevity a game like Under the Knife has. The operation was a lot of fun and the simple visuals were perfectly adequate, but the final game will have to offer a lot of variation for the game to remain fresh and fun throughout. One concern is the amount of text in the game; the short demo had a fair amount of text to read through before the operation took place. While this was information about the patient, it may put off some gamers who are looking for some instant action.
It's clear that Under the Knife won't be any use to aspiring doctors, but most medical students probably don't have time to be playing games anyway. If you fancy yourself as a flash doctor and don't want to be in school until your late twenties, you might want to give Under the Skin a look when it is released exclusively for the Nintendo DS later this year.
Check out our exclusive gameplay footage of the game.
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