Somehow I never got around to writing about the launch of Two-Point Hospital last year. It’s the silly hospital administration game from some ex-developers of the beloved classic from Bullfrog, Theme Hospital. Both have similarities in their management of the hospital you build and in the silly ailments that patients are seeking remedies for.
Two-Point Studios have already added a bunch of free updates including workshop support and two paid DLC packs. One on a tropical island and the other in a colder climate.
I finally got a chance to try Two-Point Hospital during a free weekend on Steam and had quite a bit of fun with it. It is a lot like Theme Hospital, except not running in DosBox and that really helps when you’re trying to play a game without watching your monitor throw a fit attempting to reach the old resolutions.
I really liked James Swinbanks’ description of that goofy attitude:
Part of Two Point Hospital’s overwhelming charm is its sense of humor, which permeates every corner of the game, from the fantastically funny radio station–complete with fake ads and feature segments–to the pun-laden disease names like Jest Infection or 8-bitten. Someone suffering Mock Star shuffles about with the look and swagger of Freddie Mercury, requiring a session with the psychiatrist to pull them out of it. Equally funny are the contraptions used to cure some of the rarer conditions. The Extract-a-Pan treats Pandemic and is a giant magnet on the end of a tube that pulls the pan off the top of the patient’s head. The writing throughout is sharp and witty, with the descriptions of various ailments being a particular high point.
But just discovering those diseases and their often darkly funny symptoms, as well as watching your staff and patients go about their day, feels rewarding enough. Everything moves with the look and flow of a cartoon pantomime; patients will die only to come back as ghosts and haunt your hallways until a janitor can come along and suck them up with a vacuum cleaner. At one point my receptionist got up from his desk, vomited in front of patients because he was disgusted by something, then left to pour a coffee in the break room before demanding a pay raise. It nails the Theme Hospital nostalgia and is so good that even the 20th time you hear the announcer ask patients “not to die in the hallways” is hilarious.
Two-Point Hospital is kind of unique these days, the Theme Hospital type of sillyness is rare. Heck, any kind of genuinely funny games are so rare.
Unfortunately the free weekend and sale are over on Steam, and the game is back up to $35. It does support macOS and Linux as well as Windows.
The only game I know of where you can brawl, race R.C. cars competitively with teenagers, help punk rockers with their imposter syndrome, and sing karaoke, all in 1980’s Tokyo, is out on Steam for Windows. That’s just a few months after I, and no doubt many others, bought it for the PlayStation 4 while thinking “Yakuza 0 will never come to Windows.”
“…Yakuza 0 is one of the most eccentric, idiosyncratic and downright charming games around. It deftly moves between drama and humour, between story and action, between arcade action and lengthy, well written pulp dialogue about a man who is incredibly good at punching. There’s simply nothing else quite like it, and it’s well worth your time.”
Their crowd-funded sequel, Shenmue III, is still on its way, but how should someone new to the series get up-to-date with the premier picking-up-objects-and-turning-them-over-in-your-hand sim? It turns out that Sega is publishing the first two game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam for Windows.
The updated versions of the game promise a better user interface, more modern controls with the original as an option, higher resolution choices, and a subtitled Japanese audio experience if you’d prefer that over the English voice acting. There aren’t any pre-order bonuses, and no price is up yet, so it’ll be good to wait for the games to be released this year and read how the ports turned out.
It doesn’t sound like they’re changing much at all, but it’s good to see the original Shenmue games available off of the Dreamcast and the original Xbox. I’d like to take a crack at playing II, which I’ve got somewhere but never got it going on my old Xbox.
This is mostly unrelated but I’ve been watching the completely ridiculous Japanese television series Sunshine, Sento-Sake, and it is a complete trip. Unfortunately the show is only available via Amazon’s Prime Video service.
Here’s how I would describe it: A guy working as a business-to-business ad salesman is extremely mediocre at his job, but always finds a way to relax in the middle of the day at a public bath, and then gets some beer and good food. I heartily recommend it for anyone interested in seeing someone appreciate the joy of relaxing and savoring food and drink, but be prepared for lots of old butts in those Sentos.
Dan and Bianca Ryckert recommended Sunshine on their new podcast, and I feel like they’re the best at explaining the fun in the show if you’re put-off by the butt warning. Check out that episode of their podcast here.
That sounds like a morning breakfast show, doesn’t it? Well, Windows Today isn’t a thing, but Puyo Puyo Tetris is out for Windows via Steam, today, it’s $20. I played a short bit and it felt just as good as it does on the Switch, which reviewed well as we discussed previously. It is very odd to have a lot of visual novel cutscenes that take forever to tell their story inbetween levels of the single-player campaign, but those are easily skipped if you’re not interested in anime characters screaming at each other about how their worlds have been ripped asunder to bring Puyo Puyo and Tetris together.
Almost everybody seems to have liked Puyo Puyo Tetris on the Switch and PlayStation 4. Sega combined the Puyo Puyo and Tetris puzzles games, but you can also just play either in a bunch of different modes. It came out early last year and it’s finally hitting Windows via Steam on February 27th.
In Arcade Mode, both solo and multiplayer, there are six particular types of battling: Versus (choosing your poison before battle: Puyos or Tetriminos), Fusion (a combination of Tetris and Puyo Puyo in the same field), Party (where cleared items obstruct your nemesis in different ways, such as speeding up time), Challenge (a challenging six different modes in a row), Big Bang (where preset Tetrimino or Puyo patterns await you, and you clear them as fast as you can), and finally, my personal favorite mode, Swap. In Swap, the player musters through two games simultaneously: a Puyo Puyo match and a Tetris match. The maps shift back and forth between the other every 25 seconds, and as your maps build, the game grows increasingly tense with each swap. One slip-up, and it could spell the end.
Not every mode in Puyo Puyo Tetris is a rousing success though. Some modes—like Fusion and Big Bang—feel tedious and not as frenetically quick-witted as the others. In Swap, I had to be agile and constantly be aware of my maps’ structures. In Fusion, the mixture of Puyos and Tetriminos operating in the same space just makes for a cluttered, frustrating experience. Big Bang, while fun for a match or two, only works on the pretense of its repetition. And once that’s been seen, it loses its fast-paced feverish joy, and becomes the most boring of all the modes.
Puyo Puyo Tetris is up on Steam for Windows with a pre-order discount of 10%, but I’d hold off until reviews are out just in case this port doesn’t turn out so hot.
If I said “Two Point Hospital” out-loud you might think I was discussing some asinine venture-funded startup designed to revolutionize the medical experience for anyone wealthy enough to afford it. Thank goodness, Sega and Two Point Studios are just making a new hospital management game using developers who have worked on Theme Hospital before. EA still owns the Theme Hospital name, so that’s why it’s called Two Point Hospital instead. It’s supposed to be out late this year, and there’s a Steam page for it.
I’ve been kind of blindsided by this one. Although I don’t enjoy many of the mechanics in even the supposedly good original Sonic games, there was something special about them at the time that has been elusive to any of the developers working on the countless Sonic games since the first few on the Genesis.
From everything I’ve heard and read, Sonic Mania, from Christian Whitehead and other third-party developers, fulfills the promise of a Sonic game in a way that Sega has been unable to fulfill. That includes the pitfalls of the original games, but without dumbass additions like guns that ruin modern Sonic games.
It’s out now on Steam for Windows as well as the Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 for $20.
There’s something curious about Shenmue III on Kickstarter: it’s only asking for $2 million. It took $47 million to build the original game. What’s the deal? As it turns out, Sony’s partnering with its development.
It’s ridiculous that this partnership to fund Shenmue III isn’t mentioned on the Kickstarter page. Of course the game doesn’t cost $2 million to make, that goal is just as much bullshit as the $500,000 goal from Bloodstained. Although the Bloodstained crowdfunding campaign was good enough to mention the external investment in their video.