Chances are over the last five years you’ve probably at one time or another crossed paths with Surgeon Simulator – a silly, unrealistic and over the top interpretation of the medical profession. Whether it’s through trying out the original PC release back in 2013, the PS4 and smart device versions that followed or simply watching the hundreds upon hundreds of streams and videos on YouTube, the game has reached a rather large audience. Now it’s the Nintendo Switch’s turn with Surgeon Simulator CPR.
As the name suggests you take on the role of a surgeon, entrusted with performing a number of procedures – everything from brain surgery to a heart transplant – on the operating table or even amidst a frenzied ambulance drive. Played entirely from a first-person perspective you’ll control each hand picking up tools and generally causing havoc with the patients. This is by no means a game to be taken seriously. Instead, the focus is on being a silly, entertaining experience.
The game is fairly lenient with the destruction you tend to cause on your patients’ bodies. Within minutes I was cracking ribs, yanking out organs and generally being a bad surgeon only seeing a few time penalties in the process. Equally lax is the procedure for replacing organs. In fact, there’s a very careless feel to how the game treats anything you do which given the complexities of its controls (more on that in a moment) makes sense. Jabbed a guy with the needle? Never mind he’ll be fine. Accidentally dropped a pencil inside the patient’s open chest? Amusing and totally acceptable.
Surgeon Simulator CPR is a very fiddly game whichever control scheme you opt for. Sliding the Joy-Con off from the device and making use of their motion features is easily the better option but still one far from perfect. Managing the movement of your arms and using buttons to raise and lower them or manipulate your fingers is no easy task especially given their temperamental nature. Using a Pro Controller or playing in handheld mode doesn’t fare much better, their reliance on the control sticks making things feel even more awkward.
Then again, you could argue that’s where a large amount of Surgeon Simulator’s appeal lies. A big part of the fun the game offers is through sloppily attempting to perform surgeries as you fight the controls. In fact, the tasks you’re set aren’t too tough on paper, it’s really the loose and imprecise controls that elevate that difficulty. This is fine if you’re just after some quick and easy laughs especially as you watch others try to make sense of what’s happening on screen, however it isn’t too long before that enjoyment turns to frustrating. Sure you’ll gradually get a little better, but even with the unattached Joy-Con you’ll find yourself fighting against the controls more often than you’d like.
New to the Nintendo Switch version (besides the ‘CPR’ in its title) is the addition of co-operative play. As you can probably imagine having two players controlling an arm each only serves to make operations even more difficult to complete as the pair of you try to work together as a unit. Your mileage may vary with this option. Those already a fan of sometimes-nightmarish handling will likely embrace the ridiculousness of sharing arms with another player. On the other hand, if you’ve already grown exhausted of the game’s relatively short surgery list then you probably won’t find much to love here.
The visuals are just cartoony enough that the horrible things you find yourself doing don’t appear too gross. Cracking a rib or pulling out a lung may sound nasty but in the realms of the game, it’s more slapstick in its visualization. At no point was the presentation blowing me away, the music in particular while effective at creating a tense and stressful environment soon wears out its welcome, the song selection limited and samey.
Surgeon Simulator CPR is a very silly game whether it’s the cartoony vibe it gives off, the wacky situations you’re thrown into or just trying to deal with the loose controls. It’s a mildly funny exercise and something to be enjoyed viewing how others interact with it, however in turns of longevity and depth you’ll find the pair lacking especially as the initial novelty starts to wear off.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Bossa Studios