Microsurgeon (video game)
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Intellivision cover art
TI-99/4A, IBM PCjr
Microsurgeon is a maze-like video game published by Imagic in 1982 for the Mattel Intellivision game console. The game was ported to the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A computer and the IBM PCjr. Microsurgeon was re-released as part of the Intellivision Rocks collection.
A tanker carrying hazardous material was damaged during an accident, causing the hazardous gas inside to escape. Those who breathed in the fumes began to suffer immune disorders: Tar deposits suddenly fester on lungs, tumors grow at an alarming rate, and even bacterial infections become potentially lethal. The only way to cure them is through microsurgery. The player, who is a part of a team of expert microsurgeons and technicians at Xenon Medical Center, attempts to save victims of the toxic gas by operating on them using a Robot Probe.
Microsurgeon is one of the first published video games related to health or health education. The player must guide a tiny medical device, the Robot Probe, throughout a patient's body to treat the ailments affecting various organs, such as bacterial infections, brain tumors, cholesterol blockages in arteries, and tapeworms.
At the start of the game, the player is presented with the patient's status chart, which shows information on each individual organ as well as an overall condition, ranging from "Good" to "Terminal." The Robot Probe is equipped with three different treatments: ultrasonic rays, antibiotics, and aspirin. The treatment to be used depends on the ailment; for example, bacteria only respond to antibiotics, while viruses can only be temporarily disabled with aspirin. If the Robot Probe moves outside of the patient's blood vessels or lymphatic system, phagocytes (roaming white blood cells) will attack it and start to drain its power. Moving the Robot Probe and dispensing treatments also use up power.
The ultimate goal is to bring the patient's overall status up to "Good" and exit the patient's body through the eye, ear, nose, or mouth before the power runs out. The game ends when the power reaches zero, the player pilots the Robot Probe out of the body, or the overall status reaches "Terminal." The player's score is reported only at the end of the game, and is determined by several factors such as the overall difficulty of the surgery and the patient's final status.
Danny Goodman of Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games tested Microsurgeon at the summer 1982 Consumer Electronics Show. He wrote "From preliminary play, this cartridge looks like a 'must' for Intellivision owners for both graphics and unique game theme". It was noted as "among the most innovative computer/game software for 1982-1983" at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It tied for "Most Original Game" of the year in Electronic Fun with Computers & Games magazine, December 1983. The game appeared on the cover of IEEE Spectrum, December 1982, and on The Anniversary's Designing a Nervous Breakdown album cover.
Microsurgeon was among 240 video games selected to be included in "The Art of Video Games" exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in 2012.
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