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Nintendo DS Review: Emergency Room: Real Life Rescues

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Emergency Room: Real Life Rescues for Nintendo DS is another entry into the medical sim game genre. In this game, you are a rookie EMT, answering emergency calls. You start in training, then work your way up to more and more complex cases.

Upon answering a call, the victim or witness rattles off the symptoms, then you set to work. A typical call may initiate because someone passed out, had an asthma attack, or needs treatment for burns. You generally start by listening to heart and lung function and checking blood pressure. Other treatments and tools in your kit include breathing apparati, electrical monitors, paddles, braces, bandages, medicine, even scissors to remove the patients' clothing. When you have done all that you can to stabilize a patient, the ambulance button lights up and you send the patient on his way. The cases seem to be medically accurate, using authentic terminology and following a logical protocol.

I enjoy these kind of medical sim games, but I feel this one missed the mark. For starters, there are an awful lot of buttons and options to choose from in treating patients: three different menus with nearly a dozen options for each. Granted, not all the options are lit up all the time, but it still takes some searching to find what you're looking for. Additionally, for each case you are not given much direction. You are briefed on the symptoms and are left to figure out the entire course of treatment. The best you get by way of guidance is "good job" or "you're losing him," not exactly constructive criticism.

Even after playing, I am still not clear on the scoring system. I think that it is based on a combination of speed, doing the proper treatments in the proper order without performing extraneous procedures. The real problem is that not only do you have no direction, your "supervisor" doesn't tell you what you did right or wrong at the end of the simulation or how you can improve. There isn't even a timer on the screen. At the end of each case you are asked to diagnose your patient's condition by selecting from one of two or three options. There is no description of these conditions, and the game never tells you if your diagnosis is right or not.

From a technical standpoint, the game controls left a lot to be desired. All the tools are stylus-operated, but they are temperamental. If you don't tap in precisely the right area, nothing happens. Cutting off clothing is especially troublesome, as you must cut precisely along the dotted line or you will have to start over at the beginning. Between the cases there is some half-assed attempt at a Grey's Anatomy-style romance plot, but it fails to really pan out.

I think the biggest disappointment with this game is that, since you are an EMT and not a surgeon, there is no cutting and no digging around in a person's chest cavity. And let's face it: that is the best part of medical sim games. You can only perform virtual CPR so many times before it is tiresome, and it turns out, the number of times before it becomes tiresome is very, very small.


 Emergency Room: Real Life Rescues is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for alcohol reference, blood, and mild violence.

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