North American box art
|Genre(s)||Simulation, visual novel|
Trauma Team[a] is a video game developed and published by Atlus for the Wii in 2010. It is the fifth entry and current final entry in the Trauma Center series. The narrative of Trauma Team follows six protagonists who operate in different sectors of the medical profession, and their united conflict with a virulent infection dubbed "Rosalia". The gameplay combines medical simulation with visual novel-style storytelling. Different storylines focus on simplified versions of surgery, emergency medicine, endoscopy, diagnosis, orthopedics and forensic medicine.
Beginning preproduction in late 2007 following the completion of Trauma Center: New Blood, the development team's aim was for Trauma Team to be both a "conglomeration" of the series and something different. The wish for variety after multiple games with similar gameplay resulted in the different medical professions, which each required a dedicated designer. The story was influenced by the 2009 flu pandemic. A pilot episode for a live-action series of the same name was produced, but the series was not taken up and the pilot received no official release. Reception of Trauma Team was generally positive, but it met with low sales.
Trauma Team is a video game that combines simulation gameplay with storytelling employing a non-interactive visual novel style using motion comic segments with full voice acting. The campaign is split between six medical-themed disciplines; surgery, emergency medicine, endoscopy, diagnosis, orthopedics and forensic medicine. Each of the six main characters have episodic storylines that interweave to form a larger narrative, with a seventh chapter involving all the characters once all six storylines are completed. Across each profession, players control the action with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
Surgery and emergency medicine follow the gameplay pattern of earlier Trauma Center titles, with characters working under pressure to save patients. In the surgery segments, players operate on patients using a variety of tools, including scalpel, antibiotic gel and sutures. Players must perform a number of tasks to complete the operation while keeping their vital signs stable. During the emergency medicine segments, the player must treat a number of patients with a basic set of tools while each patient loses health. The types of injuries include surface burns, wounds and broken limbs that must be reset. Tools include cotton pads, splits and scissors to cut clothing and expose wounds.
Endoscopy and orthopaedics are also invasive surgical professions, but have different gameplay to surgery and emergency medicine. Endoscopy has players guiding the endoscope through a patient's internal organs and carry out operations on small injuries such as ulcers. Players navigate using the Remote functions to mimic the motion of an endoscope, while the Nunchuck is used to steer, move the camera, and select and control tools. The player navigates areas and searches using the radar for problems, with the gameplay focus being precise small-scale surgery after locking onto a problem area. Orthopaedics, which almost exclusively uses the Remote, has players performing scripted operations on bones, with operations including bone reconstruction and replacement. Tools are provided depending on the operation, with successful use creating a score chain which continues until a mistake is made. Rather than patient vitals, the player has five hearts represented on-screen, depleting when a mistake is made.
Compared to the other professions, diagnosis and forensics play very differently, being based around dialogue-based investigation and deduction with gameplay elements similar to point-and-click games. Diagnosis has players asking patients questions and examining them for symptoms. Between these sections, the player looks over the described victims and medical reports which include X-rays and CT scans to deduce what the patient is suffering from. Forensics sees players investigating crimes; going between the crime scene and the lead character's offices where the body and evidence is collected ranging from clues on the corpse to witness testimony. The player gathers clues represented as cards, with different cards combining to create either new clues or solid evidence, and question-answer segments which can produce further clue cards and evidence.
Two difficulties are available from the start, "Intern" and "Resident", with a harder difficulty dubbed "Specialist" available after the game's completion. Depending on their performance during each chapter, players are ranked and higher ranks unlock new content. The "XS" ranking is only achievable on the post-game "Specialist" difficulty. In addition to single-player, a second player can join in for local cooperative multiplayer during surgery-based levels; players can either take turns with actions, or work together in real-time.
Setting and characters
Trauma Team is set in the same fictional universe as the other Trauma Center titles, although there is little to no narrative connection. The exact location is Resurgam First Care, a fictional hospital in the United States where many of the protagonists work.
The storyline follows six protagonists working at Resurgam. "CR-SO1" is an amnesiac prisoner convicted of bioterrorism; due to his surgery skills, he begins working at Resurgam to take years off his sentence. Maria Torres is a bombastic paramedic whose perfectionism has isolated her from her colleagues. Gabriel Cunningham is a brilliant diagnostician whose troubled personal life leads him towards a pessimistic view of humanity. Hank Freebird is an idealistic former soldier who changed careers after growing sick of violence, becoming Resurgam's resident orthopaedic surgeon. Tomoe Tachibana is an endoscopic surgeon from a wealthy background, who rebelled against her family and moved to America to work for Resurgam. Naomi Kimishima returns from Trauma Center: Second Opinion; following Second Opinion, she was infected with a fatal disease, which left her with nothing in life but her work as a coroner at the Cumberland Institute of Forensic Medicine, but also granted her the ability to hear a dead person's last words.
The story opens with six interweaving plotlines involving the game's six main characters. CR-SO1 is called from prison to perform a risky heart operation, done using the authority of Cunningham to save a key politician, and due to its success CS-SO1's deal is struck. Naomi's storyline has her investigating multiple cases, alongside her growing relationship with a young girl named Alyssa. During her final case involving a serial bomber, Alyssa is almost killed by a bomb meant for Naomi which kills her family. CR-SO1 escapes from his observers to save Alyssa, forfeiting his deal. After being cornered, the bomber blows herself up, and Naomi decides to adopt the orphaned Alyssa. During all this, Maria must confront her difficulty working with others and visions of Rosalia, a girl from her childhood; Tomoe successfully defying the restrictive heritage of her clan and saving her father from a life-threatening condition; Hank juggling his dual life as doctor and masked vigilante, in addition to helping a woman who attempted suicide to rediscover her love of life; and Cunningham struggling with the difficulties of his work and his son's emerging Wermer's syndrome.
During each story, the characters confront cases of black bruises on patients' bodies. With Naomi, the bruises are found on the bodies of people who displayed erratic or insane behavior. The name "Rosalia" also arises in connection with multiple cases, with the bomber saying it prior to her suicide. In the seventh chapter, there is a mass outbreak of the disease causing the black bruises, eventually diagnosed as a virulent strain of viral hemorrhagic fever. Resurgam is flooded with patients, and a quarantine is established by the US Army. Cunngingham, called in to diagnose a patient suffering from the fever, narrowly escapes the army with a skeleton that carries the live infection in its bones. The bones are revealed to be the remains of Albert Sartre, a medical professor and CR-S01's adoptive father, who was responsible for the crime CR-S01 was imprisoned for and disappeared shortly afterwards. With his memory returning, CR-SO1 escapes captivity and goes with Maria to uncover more information, coming across a photograph of his adopted sister Rosalia Rossellini, later revealed to be the virus's natural host. The virus—dubbed "Rosalia"—could have been a cure-all due to its ability to destroy other harmful organisms, but was too virulent and attacked any infected organism. If left untreated, the virus will wipe out the USA within a week.
As all the characters come together at Resurgam, they deduce Rosalia's location in Mexico and Naomi flies down there with Maria. They find Rosalia's corpse, now turned into adipocere, in a field of Asclepias flowers near her house. Naomi uncovers that Sartre attempted to create a panacea from the virus, but was infected himself and killed her in an unbalanced attempt to stop it spreading. Rosalia's blood seeped into the surrounding Asclepias and turned them blue, with the monarch butterflies feeding on them becoming the virus's vector due to shedding their scales during their migration. While Rosalia's blood is unusable, an antiserum is developed using the blue Asclepias. They return to Resurgam and the doctors begin bringing the epidemic under control. Naomi then collapses; she is infected with the virus, which has merged with her own condition to form a mutant strain dubbed "Twisted Rosalia". CR-SO1 successfully destroys the Twisted Rosalia, which in turn eradicates Naomi's condition.
Preproduction of Trauma Team began in 2007, following the completion of Trauma Center: New Blood. The concept was to create a gameplay experience unlike anything in the Trauma Center series. After much discussion, the team opted to combine a wide variety of medical practises into a single game. While director Daisuke Kanada himself described the concept as "pretty farfetched", the team felt they were the ones best suited to successfully turning the concept into a game. While initially planned as a sequel to the other Trauma Center titles, it was decided to change the title from the beginning of development, and by its completion the title had changed substantially from previous entries so that Kanada compared it more to an original title. The new Japanese titled "Hospital" referenced the scope of the game's medical procedures. Kanada defined the game as a "conglomeration" of the series up to that point.
The decision to include so many medical professions was influenced by perceived fatigue with players experiencing only surgery in previous entries. Each gameplay style had a different planner and programmer due to the radically different gameplay designs, with Kanada supervising them all. Each of the concepts were designed around the functions of the Wii. The first two decided upon were surgery and forensic medicine, described by Kanada as being as opposite ends of the medical spectrum. After that, the team included endoscopy, diagnosis, orthopaedics and first response to detail both different stages and styles of medical care previously untouched by the series. The forensics segments were included partly at the request of Atlus USA and partly due to popularity in North America of forensic crime dramas. When creating the game systems and considering the Wii controls, the designer team looked at earlier Trauma Center games and decided what had to stay and what they needed to change. The latter included the often-strict victory conditions and lack of clarity about loss conditions.
Surgery was refined from earlier Wii entries, in addition to its difficulty being lowered and general playability being improved. The emergency medicine discipline was tricky to design so it was compelling, with multiple elements being suggested based on the team's love of drama series which showed such scenes; a successful inclusion from these inspiration was chest compression. Endoscopy was suggested to the team by a real doctor who had played New Blood and asked whether the feature could be included. It was the only part of the game that was in full 3D. Orthopaedics was difficult to define at first, but after Kanada said he wanted something to contrast against the other surgery-based gameplay modes, its tone and easier difficulty was finalised. The diagnosis segments required a large amount of research to create a compelling gameplay experience. All the CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound clips were real; they were provided by staff members. Forensic medicine was inspired by the team's liking of crime dramas, with its style of investigation rather than an autopsy being asked for by Atlus USA. The card fusion elements were directly inspired by the Demon Fusion of Atlus's Megami Tensei series.
Due to greater focus on action, programmer Takaaki Ikeda used programming modified from the script engine of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. The adventure-style gameplay of Cunnginham and Kimishima's chapters were the most difficult to Takaaki Ikeda's inexperience with the genre. The game originally took up too much disc space and had overly long load times. This was due to each individual asset of the game using a separate programming file, a common issue in development magnified by the sheer number of files. The file number was double that of New Blood, and they all be put in without modification, the game would have needed two discs to play. Tataaki Ikeda remembered the efforts to fit the game onto a single disc as one of the most difficult parts of the programming stages. These issues were compounded by Kanada's insistence that the game run as 60 frames per second.
Scenario and art design
The scenario was written by Teppei Kobayashi, who was working on the scenario of Etrian Odyssey II. He was friends with a doctor and said they might be able to help with the design, but the team already had a medical consultant. later Kanada approached him and asked him to write "a tear-jerking story with [six] doctors as the main characters". A recurring difficulty with the scenario was the number of technical terms he had to employ, with a cited example being his ignorance about the similar-sounding terms apoptosis and necrosis. At the same time, he had to make the story and medicine comprehensible to as wide an audience as possible. He also had to be careful with how he portrayed the conflict, as the characters' "fight" could potentially be interpreted negatively when coupled with their role in saving lives. During 2009 when the game was in the middle of development, the 2009 flu pandemic occurred and dominated the news. In response to this, Kobayashi wrote the story to emphasise how people live their lives in a world that could have such terrible life-threatening events in it. To prevent the narrative becoming dull, the team kept the number of characters that appeared in scenarios as low as possible.
Speaking about his portrayal of the characters, Kobayashi said that he combined the Japanese style of unusual settings with the more Western focus on characters struggles. The main challenge with the six-part scenario structure was retaining a sense of unity within the story despite changing perspectives and player freedom when choosing scenarios. CS-SO1 was created to stand out from the other surgeon characters featured in the Trauma Center series up to that point. When planning the professions of each character, Kanada picked them out so they could be believably involved in a viral outbreak. Originally Kimishima was intended to be a veterinarian. A remnant of this initial plan appears when Kimishima treats a cat during her narrative. A concept Kanada had to abandon was the lead doctor being openly gay; while appearing masculine, he would have a more feminise personality like a "strong elder sister", an archetype common in Japanese entertainment in addition to anime and manga. While Japan had little problem with such characters, both his own research and consultation with Atlus USA made Kanada feel North American gamers might be offended. There was a huge amount of dialogue, with a total of 15,000 voiced lines; this was estimated as being larger than most RPGs of the time.
The character and art design were handled by Masayuki Doi, who had worked on the series since Second Opinion. Once the six medical professions were decided upon, Kanada said there should be six unique protagonists. Each character had a different inspiration. Doi drew CS-SO1 based on the scenario team's concept for the character, designing him as a quiet loner with an arresting air. Kimishima was designed with a cold look referencing her short life expectancy, with her black clothing deliberately referencing her appearance in Second Opinion. Hank was designed to evoke classic American action heroes; inspirations for his design included sentai series such as Kamen Rider, Elvis Presley and unspecified comic book superheroes. His Native American influence was much stronger in earlier designs, but elements of it were retained due to positive staff feedback. Tomoe always had a traditional Japanese dress style, but resembled Maria more until she was redesigned later as a more traditional Japanese beauty. Cunningham was given a styliesed adult air, combining both American and British adult male fashion styles. Maria went through multiple redrafts, until Doi settled on making her an energetic archetype to balance against the calm Kimishima and innocent Tomoe. A problem with character designs was the multi-ethnic casts more common in Western stories than Japanese, in addition to aspects of ethnic and gender equality not often presented in Japanese media. The Japanese version's logo design incorporated flowers and butterflies, tying into the game's narrative.
Doi created the game's presentation alongside designer Naoya Maeda. Describing the game's art design, Doi called it a conscious move away from the color schemes of contemporaneous games, which seemed to favour a greyed or washed-out palette. The game used strong and contrasting primary colors, and alongside that decided the team opted to contrast the 2D cutscenes against 3D surgery segments. With that decided, Maeda had to craft the gameplay graphics they could communicate the operation without being "gross" or "painful". Doi attributed the success to the high number of female staff members working on the game. Kanada requested a storytelling style unseen in the series, so Maeda designed the cutscenes as motion comics, with the camera panning over static and moving 2D images to create a 3D illusion. They tested this style using a story sequence from New Blood. It was so impressive that they also applied the style to the game's interface. The internal organs underwent a redesign compared to earlier entries, which had taken a relatively realistic approach. Doi asked Maeda to use high contrast colors to highlight different organs. Due to the different professions, each mode had different organ and body designs fitting their gameplay styles and themes.
The music was primarily composed by Atsushi Kitajoh, a veteran of New Blood, and newcomer Ryota Kozuka. Further tracks were contributed by Shoji Meguro, an established Atlus composer who worked on Trauma Center: Under the Knife. Some of the music was remixed from earlier Trauma Center themes created by Kenichi Kikkawa. Due to the variety of the game's cast and the wish to avoid repetition of themes, Kitajoh divided the work between himself and Kozuka. This variety was expressed through different lead instruments, such as a guitar for surgery segments, jazz elements for the diagnosis chapters, and Japanese instruments for the endoscope sections. Including on-off cues and short jingles, the music came to over 100 tracks.
Cutscene tracks were difficult as they needed to synch with specific events. To create tracks, the composers drew inspiration from Doi's early character drafts and watched prototype cutscenes. To mirror the changing gameplay flow, the team was asked by Kanada to create different versions of one track that changed in intensity similar to classic games he played in his youth. The team's main challenge was syncing them in-game so each version would lead into one another depending on the situation. The group also handled general sound design, with one particular instance being overcoming technical problems with the stethoscope function during diagnosis chapters, which were hampered by the Wii Remote's limited sound output.
The vocal theme "Gonna Be There" was composed by Kitajoh, with lyrics by Kobayashi and Atlus sound staff member Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, a frequent collaborator with the Atlus team on their earlier soundtracks, also sang the theme. Kitajoh requested a vocal ending theme with English lyrics, which fitted in with the project goal of doing something different. When Kitajoh saw the game in progress, he did not think a female singer would fit, instead wanting a male hard rock sound. The lyrics were written based on the game's themes.
The game was first announced under its Japanese title Hospital.: Six Doctors in a late May issue of Famitsu. At the time, Kanada said that development was 30% complete. It was announced for a North American release two days later, with a trailer being released at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Outside Japan, the game was titled "Trauma Team", more clearly showing its relation to the Trauma Center series. The game is the fifth and to-date final game in the Trauma Center series, and the third developed for the Wii. Previously scheduled for a North American release in April, the date was later pushed forward to May 18, 2010. The Japanese release, originally scheduled for May, eventually happened on June 17 of the same year. Trauma Team is one of two Trauma Center games not to be released in Europe, the other being Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 in 2008.
The game was later ported to the Wii U in 2015 through Nintendo's Virtual Console service; it released on August 19 in Japan and December 3 in North America. Trauma Team was the first third-party Wii title to be ported to the Wii U. The game was incompatible with the Wii U's Off-TV Play option, and requires the original Wii controls to play.
The English and Japanese voice tracks were produced at the same time alongside the game's production. Kanada wanted to include the English and Japanese voices in both releases, but disc space restrictions meant the idea had to be abandoned. The game's marketing created troubles inherent to the Trauma Center series as a whole, but also presented new challenges due to the wider range of medical professions represented. In Japan, the video marketing focused on the game's narrative, while in North America the focus was on the different gameplay styles. The cover art was also different; the Japanese version was very colourful, while North America used a plainer cover art similar to earlier Trauma Center titles. The team took a video-heavy marketing approach to reach the widest possible audience and demonstrate the gameplay in an effective way. Between its announcement and release, Atlus USA were able to turn comments from the developers and other staff into featurettes. Due to its greater story and character emphasis, the team had a large amount of text to translate and numerous actors to cast for the various roles. The localization was led by Yu Namba, with the script edited by Mike Meeker. The English voice work was recorded at PCB Productions, which had worked on the Trauma Center series since the first Trauma Center.
Prior to the game's release, an American live action television pilot based on the game was produced by Instavision/1212 Entertainment, Atlus and INdiGO, a joint venture between Atlus' then-parent company Index Holdings and Japanese animation studio Gonzo. The series was pitched as a grounded hour-long medical drama consisting of a 13 episode first season at a budget of $1 million an episode. The pilot was shot in Los Angeles in early 2010 and starred Brandon Quinn, Eden Riegel, Jackson Davis and Julie Mond as a group of medical students who perform illegal surgeries for patients unable to afford proper treatment. It was presented to potential investors at the 2010 MIPCOM tradeshow, but did not go to a series. In late 2016, the pilot was leaked online.
Upon its debut week in Japan, Trauma Team failed to reach the top ten best-selling titles, coming in at nineteenth place. By the end of the year, the game had sold over 16,700 units, selling through just under 60% of its stock. In their fiscal summary of the period when Trauma Team released, Index Media did not include the game among their commercially-successful titles at the time, which included Persona 3 Portable and Demon's Souls.
Trauma Team received generally favorable reception, according to review aggregator Metacritic. Steven Hopper of GameZone opined "Trauma Team is a fine addition to the franchise, offering a changing narrative and some new gameplay features to help it stand out against its predecessors. However, the changes to surgery aren't very major, and some of the elements can be tedious and repetitive." Stephen Totilo of Kotaku provided an extremely positive review, noting that he "expected Trauma Team to be a somewhat tired sequel, the fifth of a something that surely was tapped for all its best ideas by now" but ultimately concluded that the game "should be on best-Wii-games lists."
- Known in Japan as Hospital.: 6 Doctors (HOSPITAL. 6人の医師 Hosupitaru.: 6-nin no Ishi)
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