Review: Trash Panic (PS3)June 18th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
With puzzle games being a dime a dozen on XBLA and PSN, it’s up to the developers to bring something new to the table if they wish to stand out above the rest. Sony’s Japanese studios tend to come up with some of the more interesting downloadable games on PSN, like echochrome and The Last Guy, so it’s no surprise that the latest PSN game from Sony Japan is not your everyday normal puzzle game. Trash Panic takes its green, eco-friendly message to heart with a puzzle game about disposing trash in the most efficient manner to keep your garbage from falling out of the trash bin in order to succeed.
If you really want to break Trash Panic down to its purest form, it’s basically like Tetris if the lines you create don’t just disappear but pile up with the rest of the debris in the trash can. At the start of each round, you’re trying to break each item that comes up on the conveyer belt to the right of the trash bin by its own self or by using other objects in the bin, which is the crux of the gameplay. Later levels up the scale from a small trash can next to a desk to a dumpster in an office to larger trash receptacles where much larger objects must be broken down or destroyed. The second stage on is where the introduction of fire or decomposition come in to play to help make more room in your trash bin for other items, which is essential to master if you wish to beat the main mode. At the end of a round, you’re rated on things like carbon footprint and other relevant stats as you see an Ego and Eco box fill up to represent if you’re being eco-friendly or not before being given a letter grade, which doesn’t really rely on whether either box is filled or not.
Though it’s a simple concept, Trash Panic is definitely not an easy game. The main mode takes you through the five stages where you must last until the end without dropping more than two items out of your bin, which is usually easier said than done. You can get a good rhythm going with using one item to break the previous item and so on and so forth or being presented a larger item that can let you break up a bunch of the items coming up easily, but there are definitely bottlenecks that you need to be able to handle well to be able to succeed. It would have been nice to have the ability to break up items into finer pieces since even though you break up the large weights in the first stage, their half pieces still take up a lot of space with no way to minimize that any further. There is the ability to shake the controller if you want to try to sift smaller pieces down to the bottom of the trash can to get some room, but it’ll only help so much.
Besides just the main mode, Trash Panic offers a few other modes or ways of playing the game. As you beat stages in the main mode, you unlock the ability to play those stages individually with the ability to play them in endless mode or try another difficulty as training for the main mode. There is also a mission mode that has a specific goal that you must accomplish, like hitting a giant bell 108 times, that are definitely not easy but are nice changes of pace from playing these stages normally. The versus mode lets you play against a friend where doing well lets you dump trash from your bin into their bin in order to see who will be the first person to drop an item out of their bin. These are decent variations on the same theme, but it’s the main mode that you’ll be playing for the sake of earning what may be the hardest trophy list for any PS3 or PSN game.
Being a puzzle game, Trash Panic doesn’t have the best visual presentation ever, but it does look nice for what it’s trying to show. There are some occasionally weird physics quirks where items shift around unexpectedly or react to being hit a bit awkwardly, but things work the way they should most of the time. There are some neat visual treats for the backgrounds when you shake the controller, like books falling off of a bookshelf in the first stage that gives the impression that you’re shaking the world itself just to shake this small trash can.
The music is a bit weird in the sense that none of it really fits what is going on, which kind of makes the lack of the custom soundtrack option or any audio options at all a bit of a disappointment. The major annoyance are the stupid Gomy creatures that patrol the trash bins and collect the special items that you’re supposed to get to them at the bottom of the bin, which have this extremely annoying chuckle they emit when you fail that brings about a hope that you could kill them with the items that fall from the bin so you don’t have to be subjected to their mocking laughter ever again.
Trash Panic is an oddly endearing game that may not be a game you will beat or master anytime soon, but the feeling that you’re on the grasp of beating any of these stages makes it a bit of an addictive game. The major reason to get this game is that it’s only $4.99, so it’s nicely priced for a puzzle game that just puts a good twist on what is essentially a block-dropping puzzle game.