Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less game).
With the passage of “Obamacare,” medical treatment has become something of a hot button issue in America. Meanwhile, here in Canada, they’re giving out free baboon-heart transplants and Flintstones chewable morphine like it’s going out of style. Timely medical intervention takes a turn for the musical in Rhythm Doctor. You are a resident surgeon at NHS Hospital, a cutting-edge facility that treats such debilitating illnesses as heart sickness and being a disgruntled samurai. Each patient you treat is represented by an EKG. A catchy chiptune plays, and your cardiological/beat-matching skills are put to the test as your patient’s blood pressure rises and falls. You’ve got to hammer the spacebar every seventh beat; screw up and your patient’s heart suffers, eventually exploding and, of course, hatching into a chicken.
The game can be punishingly difficult, requiring near-perfect timing. What’s more, as you progress through the game’s three levels (plus harder “night shift” levels and a couple of bonus tracks) you’ll face even greater challenges, including multiple patients at once and beat-skipping hearts. It all plays out with distracting psychedelic backgrounds and tricky tempos. Saving the lives of your hapless patients seems almost impossible at times, but Rhythm Doctor’s music and bizarre presentation go a long way to keep your surgical experience from getting too soul-crushing. You may want to pop some Vicodin to help with the steep difficulty curve, but if you’re willing to tough it out in the O.R., you’ll find a medical rhythm game that McDreamy himself would approve of.