For the most part, the controls have a great feel to them and could make a believer out of you if you're still on the fence about the Wii Remote. Surprisingly, one of the tougher parts of the operation occurs when you make that initial incision with the scalpel. On the DS, it was easy enough to draw a straight line, but on the Wii, it can be difficult to keep a steady hand and make a clean cut. This certainly isn't unrealistic, but it seems disproportionately challenging given that you'll go on to remove tumors and worse using simpler maneuvers. The Wii Remote feels responsive as you work away, and some of the tools are simulated particularly well. The best example of this occurs when you pick something up with the forceps: You have to press and hold buttons A and B on the remote using your thumb and index finger, much like you would to squeeze the tongs on the real thing.
Trauma Center: Second Opinion also features some new and redesigned tools that require you to do more than just point at spots on the screen. If a patient's heart rate stops, it's time to bust out the defibrillator, which you'll need to push down onto the patient's chest by moving your arm toward the screen. One of the new operations also has you mending a nasty compound fracture by moving and rotating pieces of bone so that they fit into place. The times when you have to work in three-dimensional space will be quite unlike anything you've ever played before, assuming this is one of the first games you play for the Wii. You'll need to get used to these parts, but the effort is worth it.
You'd probably expect a surgical operation to be hard work, and sure enough, Trauma Center: Second Opinion isn't easy. However, its level of difficulty seems better balanced than the very challenging DS original, especially because you now have several difficulty modes to choose from for each operation. You earn a rank that is based on the speed and precision with which you operate, and even at the easiest setting, it can be tough to earn above a C ranking, let alone successfully complete some of the later operations. Also, the story-driven nature of the game means that you're going to run into some unexpected events as you operate. This makes for some tense and exciting surgeries, at the expense of forcing you to go through some trial and error until you figure out what you need to watch out for and what you need to do. But even when you know exactly what's going to happen during a given scene, it's still challenging just to get the job done in time. You typically have five minutes for each surgery, and your progress is saved after each mission, so this is a good game to play in relatively brief stretches. At the same time, the controls don't require any wild motions, so you shouldn't feel worn out after playing for longer stretches.
The control differences and other changes are enough to make this remake of a Nintendo DS game seem new again.
Trauma Center: Second Opinion is divided into a series of scenarios within a series of chapters, with some occasional side-story sequences added to the mix. There are dozens of individual operations in all, so even though each one is short, this is still a reasonably lengthy game that makes you feel as though you've been through an awful lot since your humble beginnings. The action-puzzle nature of the gameplay and the ability to easily go back and replay any scenario at different difficulty settings invite some replay value, as well. Some sort of multiplayer component would have been a welcome addition to the game, but you still get some good value for your money here, especially if you've never played Trauma Center for the DS before.
This is about as unorthodox of a launch title for a new game system as they come, but then again, the Wii is pretty unorthodox too. So maybe it shouldn't come as any surprise that the game and the console make a great match. Trauma Center: Second Opinion isn't going to wow anybody with its presentation, yet it's got so much inventive gameplay and takes such a spirited approach to its subject matter that it still stands out from the crowd.