House, M.D. - Episode 1: Globetrotting Review
Posted by Ron DelVillano
The doctor is out
Everyone’s favourite sharp-tongued, cane-wielding, drug-addicted TV doctor has finally arrived on DSiWare in House, M.D. – Globetrotting Episode 1. In this game it is your job to join the medical team at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital and uncover the truth behind a mysterious ailment afflicting an elderly television host. Through a series of medical procedures and patient questioning, it is up to you to prove that you’re the right doctor for the job.
The entirety of this game is made up of mini-games and extended scenes of dialogue. While there is a decent variety in the mini-games, ranging from hidden object puzzles, finding clues by questioning patients, and performing simple tasks such as maintaining a certain amount of heat on a Bunsen burner, none of them really provide any challenge. Some of these, if failed, must be immediately replayed while others, for no real reason, do not. It is never explained why some games are apparently more important than others, but either way the game practically insists that you advance through the story.
Besides the lack of fun that these mini-games provide, there is also a slight issue with the controls. Every mini-game is played using the DSi’s touch screen, but during many of the games the touch and sliding controls don’t seem to be sensitive or accurate enough. It can get pretty frustrating when you have to try a dozen times to properly place a tongue depressor in a patient’s mouth just to be told that you’re doing it all wrong.
After completing an arbitrary amount of these mini-games, you will be given a grade based on how well you’ve performed. You will receive a handful of these grades throughout the entirety of the game, and at the end of the full episode you will be given a final grade, which we assume to be an aggregated score based on your past performances. All of these grades end up being pointless, however, because there is no way to go back and look at how well you did, while the plot isn’t actually altered based on your skills, or lack thereof.
Once the story is completed you’ve pretty much seen everything that this game has to offer. There is a section hidden away in the options menu where you can read short bios on some of the main characters from the TV series, but if you’re playing this game then you probably already know a thing or two about them. Besides that, there’s literally nothing else here. There’s not even an option to replay mini-games that you’ve already played in order to get a better score. You are restricted to simply continuing with your story, which ends rather suddenly, or starting a new game.
While the campaign only takes about three hours to complete, the mini-games and situations don’t change at all with each play through. As a result, you’re unlikely to have the desire or motivation to replay this game. There are four save profiles available, so if you want to disappoint three of your friends or family members, you can invite them to create their own file.
Fans of the series won’t be appeased by the script, either, as the TV show’s well-loved charm is completely lost. One of the main contributing factors to this is that the story is told entirely in still images and blocks of text; without the acting talents of the cast to lift the writing, it’s just not the same. Rather than being witty and humorous, House’s insulting comments to his patients and employees come off as just that: insulting. The script is much less engaging, and entertaining, than those of the TV show.
Though the story scenes may not be animated, the character illustrations are surprisingly vivid and detailed. Even without the use of moving images, there is a sense of motion in the picture-book style used to tell the story. The audio, quite conversely, is a disappointment. The entire soundtrack consists of about two different atmospheric songs, one that plays in the menu and one that plays during mini-games. During the story sections of the game there is a strange lack of background noise, besides the chime that is made after each block of dialogue.
House, M.D. – Globetrotting Episode 1 feels like a stripped down game that is left with nothing but the bare minimum. It feels this way because that’s exactly what it is. Legacy Interactive have taken their original PC game and simply split it down the seams to produce five episodic instalments. Rather than adding anything interesting or new for the DSi release, Nintendo gamers are instead being charged 800 points for unfulfilling fragments of a complete game.