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Patient Readmitted: Theme Hospital Now On GoG

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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Andrew Smee

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