Patient Readmitted: Theme Hospital Now On GoG

By Andrew Smee on April 12th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

I actually remembered the fax code 24328 without looking it up. You better believe I'm damn proud.

For some reason I was sure this was already in the venerable GoG library, but evidently not: Bullfrog’s timeless hospital management sim Theme Hospital is now available to be played on your modern machines. I can see how my evening is going to run now: Water those plants! Turn up the radiators! Hire more nurses! Buy more chairs! Oh, no, Earthquake! Fix the Slack Tongue machine! Build more windows! Shoot all the rats! Overprice the Kit Kat drinks machine! 24328 Shift+C! Completed level objectives, Shift-Y, Shift-Y!

Fair warning: if you click this link, you’ll have no choice but to buy it.

You know, I’ve always kind of wanted to build a Theme Hospital above a Dungeon Keeper realm and watch them fight it out. Both the Keeper and the Hospital Administrator (is cheating!) had similar abilities, especially what with being able to pick up your hirelings to speed things up.

Right, so. Theme Hospital is one of those games everyone over a certain age remembers fondly. It enjoyed huge success, and went on to be the king of the budget PC games rack for years and years. It was a real family thing for me: It was the only game outside of Civilization 2 my lifelong NHS-employed Dad would play, and I spent countless afternoons after school resizing rooms and gambling on patient treatment odds with my sister, who was even more obsessed with it than I was.

Because Theme Hospital was a fantastic game. Slickly put-together, it had a hook everyone could understand: running your own hospital for fame and profit. Bullfrog showcased their humour at every turn, from the disgustingly named diseases described on fax readouts to the pitch-perfect bored whine of the Hospital tannoy announcer paging a Doctor, to the Inflation Room.

Making your way around that boardgame map, encountering and overcoming greater and greater obstacles and epidemics until your Hospitals were built on earthquake fault lines in the middle of epidemics, armies of patients flown in by helicopter to wait outside the inevitably understaffed Psychiatrist’s Office while the only highly-trained member of staff who doesn’t enjoy fart-surfing sits on his arse in the Staff Room, taking up a whole couch to himself. Trying to beat rival companies HAL, Deep Thought and Multivac to the highest patient cure rate and wealthiest coffers through an unending exercise in space management and efficiency planning was a hugely satisfying experience.

The sound of Bullfrog games coloured my childhood, as I’m sure they did for many of you who read this very website. The strength of vision in their games brought me back time and time again. Alright, that’s enough of this – I’m going to go buy and install it and shoot every rat I see. Those cleanliness awards don’t win themselves, you know.

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81 Comments »

  1. DiTH says:

    Damn i thought this was a Kickstarter and my teeth almost dropped.!!

    Also there is an open source project somewhere out there named corsix-th if i recall correctly.

    For anyone wondering it runs perfectly on W7 64

  2. Caenorhabditis says:

    This is definitely one of the Games That Made Me.

    • kiaysds444 says:

      http://tiny.pl/hp58h A zombie outbreak would be the sort of thing that would be in it if it was remade today.

    • starclaws says:

      Patients are asked not to die in the corridors!~

      Yup this game!!! I have played through it sooo many times. Such a great fun look at a tycoon. Then the Bullfrog guys sold out. They were one of the fastest growing gaming companies of the 90s and produced some of the most iconic games of all time. Startopia from Murky foot too but they died fast. We just don’t get these fun little games anymore. It’s cookie cutter games now. I’d love to see Startopia 2, or Theme Hospital 2. We get to see Sim City’s newest creation but it isn’t looking that spectacular yet.

    • j3w3l says:

      yep
      it was this, Constructor and Red Alert for me

  3. Inigo says:

    You know, I’ve always kind of wanted to build a Theme Hospital above a Dungeon Keeper realm and watch them fight it out.

    Now I want to hear Richard Ridings read out hospital announcements.

  4. Dozer says:

    Shonky radiator placement in that first screenshot surely?

  5. sinister agent says:

    Odd. My sister loved this, too – it’s one of few games she really got into. She was much better at it than me, too. The bastard.

    Good to see it again – my copy was left behind during a move a few years ago, and I’ve been waiting for it to appear on gog. The last of the great management games. I really wish that genre would come back.

    • jonfitt says:

      Let’s see how the Subversion-birthed Prison Architect turns out. I get similar vibes from the previews.

  6. Tulse says:

    Insta-buy. This is one I added to GOG’s wishlist a while ago. A lot of good memories playing the inferior version on PlayStation of all things (I had a deprived adolescence).

  7. LazyGit says:

    I still have my original disc. My girlfriend and I regularly play it, either the CorsixTH opensource version or the original. CorsixTH looks great and works well but not all the content is there whereas the original version has all the original content (obviously) but is a bit buggy and at a low resolution.

    In my dreams I could have a mix of the two. If this GoG version has stabilised the original and is otherwise flawless then I might be buying it again.

    Interesting fact, this game has been on sale in GAME stores forever.

  8. Was Neurotic says:

    Bought! Thanks for the tip!

  9. Lemming says:

    How does it run? I managed to get the old version working on my Windows 7 machine recently and it went a bit too fast, tbh.

    Any higher resolutions available?

    • TechnicalBen says:

      If it is too fast you can change the dosbox settings (AFAIK even GOG games just run in a dos box emulator).
      I don’t think it ever got better resolution graphics except maybe on a console port… wait, back then? The console port would have had lower graphics. :(

  10. Jajusha says:

    Is this Win 7 compatible? Last time i tried, it was either too fast or the mouse was all bugged out.

    • jonfitt says:

      The GOG page says yes for 32 and 64-bit Win 7.
      I want to say that Win7 support is a requirement for a game to be listed. But I’m not positive.

      • jonfitt says:

        Oh no, that’s not true at all. Games must just support XP. I heard in an interview 2+ years ago that they were aiming to make their minimum windows version Vista, but I guess they haven’t done that.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          That’s only relevant for old Windows games. DOS games should run on DOSBox regardless of platform, and that’s the version of Theme Hospital which GOG is selling.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Just tried my old copy (which was rudely displaced into a spare DVD case and left to gather dust) and, aside from shadows and the FMV being a bit corrupted, it seems to work fine on my 64-bit Win 7 machine.

  11. Man Raised by Puffins says:

    So… Much… Vomit… (and in the game).

  12. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    When are they going to get Startopia, dammit!? I can’t find my disc and it’s not in any digital distributors’ catalogues!

    Oh, and this looks cool, too.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      You reminded me I still have mine… I’m gonna check it’s still there. Then hug it. Then listen to the narrator over and over…

    • RegisteredUser says:

      The torrents have it.

      There are also additional missions / stuff from the devs that were released post-h.. mortem.

  13. Dingsey says:

    “Patients are asked not to die in the corridors”

    So much nostalgia!

  14. squareking says:

    Might have to get this. I played Dungeon Keeper religiously as a kid and went on to Populous: The Beginning and a few others, but I passed this up because I didn’t care for the setting. This was before I understood that the little Bullfrog logo meant the team put time, effort and humor into most of their games.

  15. wonderpookie says:

    Can you increase the resolution???

  16. The First Door says:

    But… but… I was going to be all productive this evening… I honestly was…

    This was by far one of my favourite games when I was younger, even if I was terrible at it. For example, I only found out through the Corsix-TH project about how radiators worked. It’s no wonder all my patients were always moaning about the temperature!

  17. Sweedums says:

    hospital administrator is cheating!
    hospital administrator is cheating!
    hospital administrator is cheating!
    hospital administrator is cheating!

    this is the only game i remember calling me out when i decided to use cheats. Such fond memories, might just have to buy it again, though im sure i have it around somewhere…

  18. Tom Walker says:

    Well, I had considered this one of the great, underrated games of my youth, but it seems every else loves it too.

    Rude not to for four quid, innit?

  19. Carra says:

    I replayed this game a year or two ago, it’s still a lot of fun.

  20. Diziet Sma says:

    I recommend if you buy this that you also download:

    http://code.google.com/p/corsix-th/

    and give the data files from the game a whirl through in that engine.

    (Coming from someone who has the original big box + CD visible to him right now, having found it in the attic a few weeks back and done exactly this)

  21. GiantRaven says:

    Hooray! Hopefully this means the Theme Park games will be available soon as well. I spent much less time playing those in my youth so I’d like to try them out again.

  22. GlobalFrequency says:

    I think I’m gonna have to see the psychiatrist about my NotGonnaGetAnyWorkDoneThisWeekend syndrome that suddenly flared up again.

  23. PodX140 says:

    Oh man, that link. That accursed music! MUST NOT BUY!!!!

    I’ll cave sooner or later I’m sure :/

    Fantastic game, really holds up even 10? more? years later.

    • The Magic says:

      It’s around 16 years ago, surely…. lemme check… March 31st 1997

      How time flies.

  24. Ysellian says:

    Man I loved this game as a child! Would I still love it today? Oh well can’t hurt to try :)

  25. wab1981 says:

    What was the name of that space station management game from around the same era, anyone remember?

    • wab1981 says:

      Yes! that was it, loved that game,(off to dig through the attic to find it)

    • Belsameth says:

      Startopia!
      Must.
      Play.
      Again.

      The hippy aliens were amazing!!

      That being said, thanks GoG, for stealing *all* my free time. Just as I was slowing down my DF addiction…

  26. aleric99 says:

    Cow-tipping confirmed? ANSWER ME!!!

    • Brun says:

      BRB, going to start a Kickstarter for Cow-Tipping Simulator 2012.

  27. Hordriss says:

    This has made my week – bought (despite having at least two copies on CD somewhere). Now I just need the original Theme Park to go with it.

  28. Crimsoneer says:

    This game is the overlord of bargain game racks everywhere.

  29. wodin says:

    A zombie outbreak would be the sort of thing that would be in it if it was remade today.

  30. jimbonbon says:

    Between this and Dungeon Keeper I lost a significant portion of my life. On a slightly off topic point, did anyone manage to get Dungeon Keeper working properly on Windows 7 64bit?

  31. Gothnak says:

    It’s strange talking about this game… I also had an awesome time playing it, but when i look at the credits i realise my boss and boss’s boss were lead artist and lead programmer on it.. :p…

  32. terry says:

    Bloaty underpants epidemic!

  33. Moraven says:

    Evil Genius gave the Theme Hospital vibe, but not quite as great. Will gladly play this again.

    • Dominic White says:

      Startopia is a classic, and was developed by a lot of the Theme Hospital team. Track it down – the humor is on par with (if not sharper than) Theme Hospital, too.

  34. codename_bloodfist says:

    I still don’t get why anybody would buy games on Gog. Do you people just have too much money? None of it will go to the original devs and, to be frank, the very necessity of these ports is questionable. I recently dug out my copy of Thief. Needless to say, it crashed right away. I entered the problem into Google search and the very first hit explained that I simply needed to set the CPU affinity to one of the processors. Voila, $10 saved and can now be spent on something that I don’t already own.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Some of these games I don’t own and, tedious ethics of piracy discussion on a gaming forum aside, it’s worth five bob of my time to have a download right there that’ll have the full, CD version of the game with the manual and no nasty little surprises left by hackers on steroids.

      I’d take the argument up with people who re-buy games on Steam if I were you, although you’ll probably get the answer “it’s worth five bob of my time to never have to find the CD ever again”.

      • Bhazor says:

        $6 for a safe, legal disk free version of Sacrifice including a downloadable soundtrack? Bargain.

        Like NathanH said the vast majority of games I’ve bought I’ve never previously owned.

        Besides not all the companies are defunct like Kalypso and DoubleFine for example.

        • nasKo says:

          Theme Hospital does not have a Soundtrack on GOG (yet?). It’s also not the multilingual version of the game.
          Plus, it has been available for free (as abandonware) for a long time now. GOG just takes the DosBox-Setup away from you.

    • NathanH says:

      My GOG collection:

      2 games I owned already but couldn’t get working
      1 game I own already but have no idea where it is
      1 game I own already but one of the CDs has turned to goo
      1 game I own already but was part of a bundle of games I did not own already
      1 game I own already but was free anyway
      1 Thief Gold when I only own Thief
      37 games that I did not previously own

    • dethtoll says:

      man i want to put you and khemm in a room and see what happens

  35. Fiwer says:

    I’ve bought so many games on GOG and truth be told few of the ones I’ve played previously live up to my memory, and few of the ones I’ve never played live up to my expectations. This is definitely one of the exceptions, I would gladly pay $40 for a modern version of this game. It wouldn’t need any gameplay changes at all, just updated graphics and UI.

  36. Monkeh says:

    I’m so buying this, got to love Theme Hospital!

  37. Fincher says:

    More games need to incorporate ambulance siren’s into their theme tunes. DO DOO DA DO DO DOO DOO (NEE NAW NEE NAW)

  38. Dextro says:

    I can’t be the only person to have just realized that all three of the competitors in the game are named after famous AI in books:
    * HAL in 2001
    * Deep Thought in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    * Multivac in several of Isaac Asimovs stories

    My mind was just blown by this realization.

    • El_Emmental says:

      I just realized this thanks to your post, it all makes sense now =o

  39. ukpanik says:

    Weeeee bought. A weekend of nostalgia.

  40. Triangulon says:

    Bought. Cannot wait until this evening!

  41. Crius says:

    GOD THANKS.

    And do not forget, always: “Fuck You, crappy Hospital Tycoon”

  42. Mac says:

    I remember being unable to play this on my Pentium 1 as it ran like a crack addict on speed … basically, the game ran as fast as your clock speed, so if you had a Pentium 1 rather than a 486 it was insane.

  43. Brynden says:

    i think i played this game 3049232 times
    with dosbox :)
    and back in the day

  44. nasKo says:

    I loved this game. It’s not worth the 6 bucks on GOG, though, simply because the game is available for free on the internet (legally). Just do a google search and you’ll find it, quickly.
    Taking the work of setting up DosBox for me is not worth 6 bucks.

    Still awesome game and a good addition to their portfolio.

    • Llewyn says:

      It can be downloaded easily, but not legally as far as I can tell.

      • nasKo says:

        Huh, you’re right. I have been fooled. A german site released it stating it is abandonware. Another site (softpedia…ew) is even offering it as freeware when it isn’t.

        I pirated a game and did not even know. I feel bad.

  45. sexyresults says:

    I put radiators everywhere, make sure they have good coverage. And everyone freezes. /ragequit

  46. DeanLearner says:

    Listen to you all, mugs! Have you forgotten about the quite blatant in game advertising?

    How many of you have a kitkat in hand right now? Thought so.

  47. ttcfcl says:

    Remember to shoot a lot of rats (click them) and you get a bonus level at the end of the stage. Or you can press 7287 on the fax machine. Oh also if anyone care, theres a facebook game clone of it called Simply Hospital. It was fun till it only let you do a certain number of actions a day.