There was a period in my life where I didn’t own a video game console. Between 1994-1999 I was strictly a PC gamer. My PC had better graphics than my console and offered games that just didn’t work with a controller like real time strategies (Red Alert, Command and Conquer) and point and click adventures.
Simulation games were another one of my favorite genres on PC. My little brother was obsessed with rollercoasters, so we ended up with games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, and Theme Park. These games were my first introduction to the simulation management genre and I got to say, I got sucked in. While my brother loved designing rollercoasters and riding them, I was more into designing the park, hiring enough people, placing enough trash cans, and trying to keep the park in the black.
Eventually, we ended up with SimCity and my enjoyment spread to that game as well, but things were a bit more complicated. Running a theme park was enjoyable and not too difficult, but a city was a massive undertaking that overwhelmed me a lot of the time.
I transitioned back to console gaming once wrestling games became popular, and I haven’t spent too much time with the simulation genre since. I’ve tried games like Cities, Red Alert, and Jurassic Park Evolution on console, but outside of Halo Wars and Jurassic Park Operation Genesis, I’ve struggled transitioning to using a controller for games like these. The games aren’t intuitive to a controller and the keyboard and mouse is vastly superior.
A couple of years ago, a new simulation game caught my attention, Two Point Hospital. Made by the creators of 1997’s Theme Hospital, Two Point Hospital is a humorous take on the hospital management genre. Fictional diseases such as light-headedness (having a light bulb on your head) or pandemic (having a pan stuck on your head) affect the residents and it’s your job to hire doctors, nurses, assistants, and janitors to run your hospital. You build rooms, manage profit and loss, decorate, expand your hospital, control prices, adjust salaries, and even catch ghosts of dead patients. The game was described as a light, relaxing take on the simulation genre that offered a challenge but wasn’t going to stress you out. And for the past few years, that game has been on my wish list waiting to be bought.
Then a couple of weeks ago, Two Point Campus came out, a sequel to Two Point Hospital where you run a college campus. The game looked great, and like Two Point Hospital garnered praise and good reviews. I was intrigued about diving into Two Point Campus, but I knew I wanted to play Hospital first. So, I decided to finally make the purchase. I spent an hour deciding between PC, PS5, and the Switch versions, and decided to buy it on the Switch so I could kick back in and bed and play.
Two Point Hospital was a great purchase. The game is colorful and full of joy. The controls work well for the controllers, although I do mix up a couple of the buttons, but it’s nothing too troubling. The music is soothing, the jokes are “dad jokes”, but it keeps things from getting too serious.
I enjoy the challenges that are consistently coming up like “impress the health inspector” or “build a level four bathroom”. There are lots of items to unlock like benches, plants, arcade machines, which means I’m constantly finding new ways to enhance the appearance, alleviate boredom, and generation some additional income.
The first couple of hospitals don’t offer much of a challenge, but by the third hospital things begin to increase in difficulty. I still haven’t encountered anything that felt overwhelming, but maybe that’s because the game is just so joyful it never feels like you are failing all that bad. I would say, the tutorial doesn’t quite cover all the nuances of the game and I’ve discovered some things that really helped me out (like assigning doctors to specific rooms) on my own, so I wonder how easy this game is for someone without any simulation experience. Then again, we didn’t have tutorials in the 90’s and the manuals were hit and miss, part of the charm of playing a new game was discovering all those little nuances.
Having spent years working in a hospital, I get a certain enjoyment out of being successful in this fictional environment. I pay my staff well and make sure their basic needs are exceeded, and it’s worked out well for me in the operations of my hospital. It makes me think maybe some real-life hospital administrators should give this game a try.
Two Point Hospital has already provided me with several hours of fun. It’s simple game that helps the time go by with providing the perfect amount of challenge for this middle-aged fat kid. I miss those weekends of my youth spending twelve- or fourteen-hours playing Command and Conquer. While I don’t have that much time to invest in gaming these days, I love that Two Point Hospital offers me that same sort of management and organizational gameplay that I loved as a kid, but in a bite sized relaxing package today. My only complaint… it can be difficult to put down.