21
May
ic_launcher

Theme Hospital was a hit when it came out on the PC in 1997. Fans of the game are free to begin celebrating now that the game has been ported to Android as a free app by a one man UK developer called Armed Pineapple. The developer is working from the CorsixTH free software project, but it looks like someone has taken the code he's released and has started selling it on Google Play. Something smells fishy.

cth-002 cth-001 IMG_0435

The game is a simulation where players have to craft a virtual hospital that will attract patients with all manner of hilarious conditions and complaints. Theme Hospital earned a place in many a gamer's heart with its dry wit and sarcastic dark sense of humor. The original game is, as you may expect, closed source. But the love many gamers feel for Theme Hospital has led to a number of projects seeking to resurrect it. Using some of the original game assets, CorsixTH was developed and uses the MIT License.

The MIT License is a free software license, so the developer that took the code from Armed Pineapple was technically free to do so. The MIT License allows code to be used in proprietary works as long as the new work also carries the MIT License. This might be the sticking point, as the Google Play version from "barleystudio" has no language about the license that I can see. They also have no link to a website in the Play Store description. Finally, it looks like this version includes the copyrighted original game assets, which are definitely illegal to distribute.

Aside from the licensing concerns, there are some troubling permissions listed on the Play Store version (which sells for $1.49). It asks for the ability to read sensitive log data and read phone state/identity. Neither of these permissions are included in the free and open version maintained by Armed Pineapple. Below, the Play Store version is on the left, and the free Armed Pineapple app is on the right.

permissions Screenshot_2012-05-21-15-14-33

On his blog, Alan from Armed Pineapple says the version in the Play Store is based on his code, but is wary of any changes that could have been made. He suggests staying away from this version, and instead grabbing the free APK from his site. I'm inclined to agree for multiple reasons. You'll need to find a copy of the game assets (or demo assets) to play the game, but that shouldn't be too tough.

[Armed Pineapple]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • DanVass

    Where can I find this so called "game assets "?

    • RyanWhitwam

      If you just Google around for the demo version of the game, you should find the files you need.

      • Adrian

        IS there a version for Windows 8 apps? i really would want to see dungeon keeper get alive as well<3<3

    • Sumatori-kun

      Buy it:

      http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/theme_hospital

      These are one of the few games EA actually deserves money for.

  • Justdroppingby

    Hi Ryan.
    Just to let you know - The original developer is called Alan not Adam! It's awesome that you posted this though :)

    • RyanWhitwam

      Noted, and changed. Thanks, good sir.

  • http://twitter.com/themainstrm Mike

    I see the original post that was here promoting the Play Store link has been removed but no apologies for pointing people to possible malware.

  • Jeff B

    I never played Theme Hospital but I loved Theme Park back in the day on the PSX.

  • GigiAUT

    Thanks for pointing this out, I was about to go buy the paid version :S

  • DannyBiker

    I bought but immediately uninstalled when I came across the dev's website...

  • Len

    Life is complete when Atari's RCT hits android.

    • http://twitter.com/shriiiiimp Jonathan Richard

      AGREED

  • Nicolas Martinez

    The app has been removed from the Play Store

  • Gurpreet Sahota-Basra

    i have downloaded this but cannot seem to scroll around the screen when playing

  • Bruce

    How the hell do I turn the objects around?

  • maryann

    I own the original pc cd and it wont play in my new computer, HP Pavillion windows 7, does anyone know what I need to make the old cd work?