Theme Hospital

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Theme Hospital
Theme Hospital.front cover.jpg
North American MS-DOS cover art
Developer(s) Bullfrog Productions (PC)
Krisalis Software (PS)
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Composer(s) Tony Cox
Russell Shaw
Platform(s) MS-DOS, PlayStation
Release date(s) MS-DOS
  • NA: 31 March 1997
  • EU: 4 February 1998
  • EU: February 1998
  • NA: 31 March 1998
  • JP: 18 June 1998
Genre(s) Business simulation
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Theme Hospital is a business simulation game developed by Bullfrog Productions published by Electronic Arts in 1997, in which the player designs and operates a hospital. The game is the thematic successor to Theme Park, a game also produced by Bullfrog. Like most of Bullfrog's games, Theme Hospital is permeated by an eccentric sense of humour. The game was a massive commercial success, selling over 4 million copies worldwide.


The game's campaign sees the player moving from one hospital to another, where within each the player is required to build an environment which will attract patients with comical complaints, illnesses, emergencies, and diseases, and then treat them while tending to their needs. The game has a somewhat dark sense of humour, which is similar to that of Theme Park in many ways (such as in terms of deaths). While the player has no direct control over the patients who wander the hospital, they do however have some influence over whether to evict them from the hospital (whether they are close to death or being a nuisance) or determining what to do with them when given a choice by the hospital's staff; the player can pick up any staff member in the building and move them to a different area (whether to reassign some to another room, send them to get rest), and also fire them if they argue about pay or are no longer required. The player may also force patients into taking a chance at a possible cure for their suspected disease, at the risk of killing the patient (this is useful, for example, if a patient is about to die but has already completed enough diagnostics requirements to identify the kind of disease the patient is suffering from) and rearrange the queue of each of the rooms in the hospital (useful for moving dying patients to the front of the queue so they can receive treatment first, or move those forward who need to be diagnosed more).[citation needed]

Each level consists of an empty hospital to plan and design with various rooms and facilities (which are added to by research and later levels), with set goals in the fields of financial attainment, hospital reputation, patients cured, percent of patients cured, and hospital value. Holding negative funds or allowing sufficient patients to die will bring about losing requirements. When the goals have been met the player has the option to move on to a new, more elaborate hospital with tougher winning conditions and more diseases present, or stick with their current one until they are ready to move; the final level of the game has everything available, and if completed, finishes the campaign.[citation needed]

During development, the game was to feature real diseases that would be researched and cured, but before release, the game developers chose to change this around and instead replaced them with fictional comedy afflictions; some things like surgery, x-ray, cardiography and psychiatry still remain as connection to real methods of diagnosis and treatment.[citation needed]

The game revolves around the player designing a hospital from scratch, where they must set out building up rooms (or facilities) in a hospital, and hiring doctors, nurses, handymen and receptionists to operate it. Rooms are built by placing down a blueprint, assigning the location of doors and windows, and then placing down furniture (each room has needed items, but can have more added to it); the bigger the room, the more windows it has, and the more equipped it is, the happier the staff member will be in it. In addition to rooms, the player may also set up items in the open corridor spaces provided.[citation needed]


Theme Hospital was developed by Bullfrog Productions for DOS and published by Electronic Arts in 1997.[1]


The first Windows port of Theme Hospital used DirectX for all the display, mouse, keyboard, and sound output, though it retained a Low Resolution mode and some DOS applications were used including MIDIFORM.EXE for converting midi files, and the companion batch file.[citation needed]

End of support[edit]

The last official patch for the game (Beta 5 patch / v1.1) enables a network game option for the PC version of the game. The game supports 3 different networking methods; Serial Cable, Modem, and IPX/SPX network gaming. The last official patch was version 1.01 and this allows multiplayer over DirectPlay IPX as well as serial, modem and IPX.[clarification needed][citation needed]

Community support[edit]

With Bullfrog's closure in 2001, Theme Hospital reached its end-of-life, having become increasingly problematic to run on newer hardware and operating systems. Using the game's data files, there is an ongoing effort to develop a game engine recreation for modern platforms. Through means of reverse engineering, Alexander Gitter researched the file format structure used by Theme Hospital and documented them under the Theme Hospital Format Specification, intended to accumulate all the information needed for an open-source clone.[2]

On 2 September 2008, an open-source project titled OpenTH began a fresh attempt at cloning the game based on these specifications. It was written in C++ and Lua, released under the GNU GPL.[citation needed] In February 2013, OpenTH developers addressed the state of the project,[3] as another named CorsixTH forked from OpenTH that launched on 24 July 2009 under the MIT License.[4] The first release was titled Playable Beta 1 and became available on 24 December 2009.[5] The latest stable version, 0.60, was released on 30 May 2016.[6] As a game engine recreation, and like OpenTH, the executable is coded in C++ and uses Lua for parsing the game.[7][better source needed] The project is designed using the components of the original game,[8] however limited functionality is also available with the shareware demo.[9] The project's developers are additionally working on creating their own graphics to replace the original ones with freely distributables, in the same vein as OpenTTD.[10]

The open nature of CorsixTH led to an Android port releasing in 2012.[11] In December that year, the port was released to the Google Play Store.[12]

PlayStation port[edit]

The PlayStation port of Theme Hospital was developed by Krisalis Software, who also ported Bullfrog's Magic Carpet to console.[citation needed] While the port retains much of the original style, it runs at a lower resolution, lacks background music, changes the size requirement for some buildings, and has minor presentation tweaks such as a gameplay-based introduction video.[citation needed] The PlayStation version was released as a download on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable from PlayStation Store in Europe on 31 January 2008 and in North America on 31 August 2010.[13] As of September 2014, this version is no longer available for purchase in Europe.


In 2012, Theme Hospital was re-released on digital distribution service[14] In January 2015, Origin distributed Theme Hospital free for a limited time through their "On the House" program.[15] It was distributed a second time through the "On the House" program in September 2015, as a temporary replacement to Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 due to an excessive number of requests for the latter.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Theme Hospital for PC". GameFAQs. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "theme-hospital-spec". GitHub. Retrieved 12 May 2016. Sepcification [sic] of the data formats used in the game Theme Hospital 
  3. ^ lego3 (1 February 2013). "Looking for CorsixTH?". OpenTH Development Blog. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2016. This is the blog for the now dead project OpenTH which tried to recreate the classic Bullfrog game Theme Hospital. 
  4. ^ Toby (16 March 2016). "Frequently Asked Questions". GitHub. Why is the project called CorsixTH?. Retrieved 13 May 2016. The obvious name of OpenTH was already taken by an existing project. All of the initial code [...] was written by someone going by the alias Corsix, and so by shortening Corsix's Theme Hospital, the name CorsixTH was obtained. 
  5. ^ Linge, Edvin (4 January 2014). "About Beta1". GitHub. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  6. ^ TheCycoONE (30 May 2016). "CorsixTH 0.60". GitHub. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "CorsixTH". GitHub. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  8. ^ Toby (16 March 2016). "Frequently Asked Questions". GitHub. Why is a copy of the original game required?. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  9. ^ Toby (8 September 2015). "Getting Started". GitHub. The short version. Retrieved 13 May 2016. If you don't have Theme Hospital already you can buy it at or download the demo here. 
  10. ^ "CorsixTH Graphics". GitHub. CorsixTH. Retrieved 12 May 2016. This project aims to replace the original graphics from Theme Hospital that are currently used in CorsixTH. 
  11. ^ Woolley, Alan (22 February 2012). "Running Theme Hospital on Android with CorsixTH". Armed Pineapple. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  12. ^ Woolley, Alan. "CorsixTH". Google Play Store. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  13. ^ "Theme Hospital Release Information for PlayStation". GameFAQs. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  14. ^ Oshry, Dave (16 April 2012). "Theme Hospital in HD is Glorious! Here's How To Get It Working". Gameranx. Complex. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  15. ^ Phillips, Tom (21 January 2015). "Theme Hospital is free to download on Origin". Eurogamer. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  16. ^ Phillips, Carl (17 September 2015). "Theme Hospital is once again On The House, Red Alert 2 to return "very shortly"". Dealspwn. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 

External links[edit]