Theme Hospital

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Theme Hospital
Theme Hospital.front cover.jpg
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 199802February 1998
NA 1998033131 March 1998
JP 1998061818 June 1998
PAL 31 January 2008 (PSN)
JP 28 October 2009 (PSN)
NA 31 August 2010 (PSN)
Genre(s) Business simulation
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Theme Hospital is a business simulation game developed by Bullfrog Productions and published by Electronic Arts in 1997, in which the player designs and operates a hospital. Like most of Bullfrog's games, Theme Hospital is permeated by an eccentric sense of humour. The game is the thematic successor to Theme Park, a game also produced by Bullfrog. 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]

The last official patch from EA for the game (Beta 5 patch) 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.[citation needed]

Other versions[edit]

Various attempts have been made to develop an open source game engine based on the original Theme Hospital data files in the version. Through the means of reverse engineering, Alexander Gitter researched the structure of file formats used by Theme Hospital and documented them in his Theme Hospital Format Specification.[1] The purpose of this site was to accumulate all information needed to eventually create an open source clone of Theme Hospital.

On 2 September 2008 a new open source project OpenTH[2] began a fresh attempt at cloning the game based on the Theme Hospital format specifications.[1] OpenTH is written in C++ and Lua and released under the GNU GPL. As of October 2011 the project is dead, as the OpenTH blog is no longer being refreshed and the OpenTH forum is down.

Launched on 24 July 2009, the project named CorsixTH is an open source attempt to make a modern clone of Theme Hospital forked from OpenTH. It is coded in C++ and Lua, and is licensed under the MIT License. The first official release was Playable Beta 1 on December 24, 2009. The current stable version, 0.50, was released on August 30, 2015.[3] It is necessary to have the original content of the game, because CorsixTH is only an engine recreation, but limited functionality is also available by using the content files from the freely available demo. The projects developers are additionally working on creating their own graphics to replace the ones from Theme Hospital with freely distributable ones.[4]

The Android port of Theme Hospital was released, using code directly from the CorsixTH project, by developer Allan Woolley from Armed Pineapple, who built a free version of the CorsixTH code for Android and distributed it for free on his website.[5] It requires the original game files. In December 2012, Woolley released the CorsixTH port to the Play Store.[6]

There is a PlayStation port of Theme Hospital, developed by the team who also ported Bullfrog's Magic Carpet. The port is very faithful to the original, but runs at a lower resolution, lacks background music, changes the size requirement for some buildings, and has minor presentation tweaks, including a game-play based introduction video. The PlayStation version was released as a download on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable in the EU on January 31, 2008 and in North America on August 31, 2010.[citation needed]

The Windows port of Theme Hospital was actually a Win32 version of the DOS version, but all display, mouse, keyboard and sound output and input was performed using DirectX. Because of this, it still had a Low Resolution mode, despite the fact that it could only simulate it. Also, some DOS applications were still installed with it (including MIDIFORM.EXE for converting midi files, and the companion batch file).[citation needed]

The OS X port is a DOSBox port running on a similar virtual environment which allows Mac users to play the popular game without needing to install a Windows Virtual Machine.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b [1], Alexander Gitter's format specification
  2. ^, OpenTH - open source Theme Hospital clone
  3. ^ CorsixTX releases
  4. ^ CorsixTH Graphics
  5. ^ "Running Theme Hospital on Android with CorsixTH". Armed Pineapple. Retrieved 26 May 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ CorsixTH. Retrieved 6 February 2015.

External links[edit]