If you’ve been keeping score at home, then you should know by now that playing the House, M.D. games is about as fun as being hospitalised. Fortunately, the suffering can finally end now that the fifth and final installment in the series has arrived. If you’ve played any of the previous games and enjoyed them, then stop reading now and purchase this game. If you haven’t, then please, read on.
You guessed it, House, M.D. - Episode 5: Under the Big Top involves a bizarre medical mystery that can only be solved by the not-so-endearing Dr. Gregory House. As revealed through a series of mini-games and scenes of dialogue, Under the Big Top tells the story of a circus worker who unexpectedly collapses and is then mauled by a horse. If that doesn’t seem like much of a medical mystery to you, that’s because it’s not. Whereas all of the previous episodes dealt with actually medical mysteries that were difficult to solve and required Dr. House’s expertise, this one is just about a guy who gets attacked by an animal. So there you have it: the story is already drab and lifeless, just like the rest of them.
One of the biggest ailments that this whole series suffered from is that all of the mini-games that comprise the entirety of gameplay are the same from episode to episode, and none of them are challenging or even that fun to play. Ranging from activities such as drawing blood or collecting different cells and placing them in separate petri dishes, most of the mini-games are dull and repetitive and involve little more than tapping and sliding your stylus on your DSi’s touch screen. By some miracle, Under the Big Top features many new and different mini-games that haven’t been seen in the previous episodes; rather than being stuck with the same mini-games from previous episodes, this final chapter actually has original content in it. They’re still not the most challenging mini-games in the world, and a lot of them do carry over from previous episodes, but at least there is enough new content to be noticeably different and slightly more fun.
Not surprisingly, Under the Big Top can be played to completion in less than two hours, making the 800 Point price tag inappropriate. Due to the fact that the story and mini-games don’t change with each play through, and there’s nothing at all to unlock, there’s no reason that anyone would want to replay this game. Again, it’s a short game with no replay value, making it not nearly worth its weight in Nintendo Points.
Once again, the most redeeming factor is the game’s visual presentation. With what appear to be hand-drawn images of the game’s characters and environments, the whole thing is definitely not a strain on the eyes. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the ears, with a soundtrack that consists of the same song that was in the previous episodes. That’s not to say that the music itself is bad, and it does fit the mood of the game quite well, but it’s the only tune you’ll hear the entire time you play, and the repetition can get pretty irritating.
Whether you choose to believe it or not, House, M.D. - Episode 5: Under the Big Top is better than the previous episodes in the series. It may not be by much, but the new mini-games do make it a little bit better. It’s still over-priced, too short, and the story isn’t all that engaging, but at least the new gameplay makes this episode slightly different from the rest. If you enjoyed the previous episodes of House, M.D. then you’ll definitely want to play this one as well. Everyone else, you know the drill: stand back for your own safety.