The people at Adult Swim aren’t right in the head. Sure, their nighttime lineup for Cartoon Network is pretty sweet, but the games they make for the iOS platform are just nutty. Should I be surprised to discover that Amateur Surgeon 2 makes me feel a bit uncomfortable?
Yes, it’s a lot of fun to play, and sure, it’s quick and fast paced. But at what cost? Will you come out of the game having lost a little bit of your decency and maybe even your sanity? Join me as I see how deep down the rabbit hole we can go.
The Down and Dirty
It’s 51 years after the events of the original Amateur Surgeon, and Alan Probe — the “hero” of the game — has been put out to pasture. No one trusts him to perform any procedures anymore, despite his brilliance. But now, a stranger cloaked by the shadows has need of his services. Will Probe get to work on patients again?
Of course he will, that’s the whole point of the game. But the thing about Probe is that while he is the best he is at what he does, what he does isn’t sanctioned by any medical board we’ve ever heard of.
How does this thing work? You’re presented with a patient on a table — usually a junkie, hobo or other person of malcontent, who needs work done. You have to cut open each wound, suck any excess blood from the body, remove or repair any offending objects, then close up the opening using a needle, thread, lighter and scar reducing fluid. We should probably mention at this point that this game isn’t really meant for kids, but you probably already guessed that.
To control each instrument, you first select the tool of choice from the options that flank the screen, then use your finger to draw the appropriate path. For the pizza cutter — the method used for opening up bodies — you draw your finger down a yellow dotted line. To close up the same wound later, you’ll first stitch the line up by drawing a zig-zag pattern across the cut, then running the lighter across the wound and finishing it up by putting down the scar reducing medicine across the freshly cauterized marks.
Speed & Agility
If all this seems pretty straightforward, that’s because it is. The beginning levels take you through each of the steps, and it’s all pretty self explanatory. The problems hit when you notice the timer — after all, every body that’s on the table could become a corpse if left exposed to the elements for too long. You have to keep their vitals up while performing surgery as well as complete the event within a designated timeframe. Otherwise, it’s off to the morgue with your customer.
To keep things going when their heart rate gets dicey, you have a few different options. You can pump them with the medicine using a syringe, or jolt them back to life with a car battery. The syringe you can use quite frequently; just select the option and draw the path for the plunger to travel, delivering the medicine in the process. The car battery jolts people to life, or kills bugs that might be living inside the body (no seriously, and there’s a squid, too). If you do knock people dead accidentally, quickly jolt them alive again or start shopping for body bags.
Upgrades and IAP
After each successfully completed level, you’re able to upgrade one of your devices. Each one can have three upgrades total, then they’re maxed out. It seems like the pacing of that process works pretty well, because I was maxing out my last tool just before the end of the game.
Beware: there are in-app purchases to contend with as well. If you want extra components that make the process faster and easier, you can do so by spending diamonds. You earn diamonds with each game, but you can buy more using IAPs. It costs $0.99 for 2,000 diamonds, and goes up to $19.99 for 60,000. I played through the entire game without having to purchase additional diamonds, so I don’t think buying anything is necessary. Sure, you could, but why?
iPad vs. iPhone
This is a universal app, so if you buy a copy for your iPad, it’s on your iPhone as well, no charge. Thing is, I found this game to be substantially better on the iPad, mainly because of the amount of extra real estate afforded to you. It’s easier to draw your paths, and just a bit more fun — at least it was from my perspective.
The only real difference is when you come across levels that require you to shoot in the dark. There’s one point where you use the gyroscope to direct the light you’re working with, and that’s really difficult to do with the iPad. I found myself sitting in a chair, pivoting one corner of the iPad against my thigh while rotating the screen with my left hand. It was a bit of a pain to do, and that part was much easier on the iPhone.
Demented games can be a bit fun, and that’s where Amateur Surgeon 2 comes in. Sure, the IAP thing is a bit of a bummer, particularly since the original version didn’t have the same problem. But since you don’t really need to make those purchases, it’s not that necessary anyways.
Should you buy it? Sure, if you’re over 18 and have a bit of a twisted sense of humor. Amateur Surgeon 2 is definitely a fun game, you just have to be a little bit out of sorts in the noggin to really enjoy it. OK, maybe not totally out of sorts — but it helps.