Two Point Hospital flies a flag for business sims and Brit humour
Do you remember how to treat Bloaty Head?
The Internet was chock full of hype yesterday at the somewhat unexpected announcement of Two Point Hospital, a game set for arrival on PC later this year. While some of the more credulous denizens of the web thought that Sega were planning a 2nd Dreamcast when they were being more cryptic about it, it turns out that they were hyping up a Hospital sim -- one by Two Point Studios, a team that's built up by two of the leading forces behind the original Theme Hospital, Mark Webley and Gary Carr. The legendary Bullfrog may have ceased operations almost 20 years ago, but the industry is still full of its alumni creating impactful work.
Two Point Hospital comes at a time when closed business simulators are really becoming a serious thing again -- a genre that was big in the '90s, now everyone wants to get ahead in their own lil' business sandbox. You can look at games such as Game Dev Tycoon or Cook, Serve, Delicious as being important to this in how they incorporate managament sections into their gameplay, but the return of the serious sandbox side and being able to take a big area and design it to your own, often somewhat madcap specifications might just have a lot to do with the return of dinosaurs. The major success of Jurassic World and its return as a major franchise has already inspired several dinosaur park builders, including an officially licensed one that's probably amongst the most hyped titles of 2018 -- it makes sense that others would follow suit. Something about seeing a man-built dino park in crisis makes people think they can do better.
Another important aspect of both this new game and the original Theme Hospital is, of course, the humour -- a satire of private healthcare and the way that the UK government handles its health system that bubbles under the surface but is still very much relevant today. The original Theme Hospital was released in a time of crisis and lack of funding for our much-envied (by Americans) socialised health care system, and if anything things are even worse in 2018 -- so one can imagine that there will be even more bite to the satirical elements of the game than there were previously. The excellent trailer shows that the dark humour, wacky illnesses and classic isometric style have certainly not gone away, which is a pretty good sign for the final product.
Theme Hospital is still a game that's very much loved -- while it doesn't tend to get as much flowery text written about it as the likes of Populous and Syndicate, it is one of the most popular games that Bullfrog ever released, selling millions of copies across the world. The highly positive reaction to the announcement and trailer shows a ton of goodwill and interest in the product, and it's hard not to get behind them providing that the game doesn't fall into a sorrowful heap of microtransactions and what have you. Between this and the heavy rumours of a new Fable game on the horizon, it hasn't been a bad week for games by ex-Bullfrog and Lionhead folk -- the Molyneux sphere is still alive and well, and still able to produce a ton of love.