Trash Panic, a new exclusive PSN title from Sony’s Japan Studio with the aim of the game to compact rubbish into a garbage can – I know it sounds crazy. As you play, your bin fills up with more and more items (from the humble pencil, through to microwaves and even space stations), so, the basic principle of Trash Panic is very similar to Tetris. At first glance, that’s all Trash Panic would seem to be, but dismiss it as a simple imitation of the legendary GameBoy game at your peril.
Instead of just maneuvering pieces of rubbish so they fit together, you have to smash the objects into each other so they take up less space. It’s all physics based so heavier objects, for example a pair of dumbbells, will squash smaller objects, like a wok, and thus depleting the amount of junk in the can. There are also loo rolls and other flammable objects that can then be set on fire by a subsequent alight match to burn objects, dynamite that can explode objects and water that will drench and sodden objects within the bin. Throw in special Mottainai items that need to be carefully placed and not smashed and it can all get a bit hectic. Using the L2 button, you can also close the lid of the bin to give yourself a break and strategise your next move, while also helping increase the level of damage done by fire for a period of time.
After the first few attempts (in which you will almost certainly fail), you soon realise that the skill is to place objects in preparation for items that will be coming next (you can see the next 4 objects that will fall into the bin in advance). Having read up to this point or seen any gameplay videos, you may think that it doesn’t sounds like much of a challenge; you are in for a surprise – it is punishingly hard. At first it looks all cutesy and easy, with its fantastically Japanese soundtrack and bright colours abound, but it’s the difficulty that will leave you in almost constant state of frustration and question your ability to play seemingly simple puzzle games.
Yet it’s a testament to the easy to pick up, extremely difficult to master, gameplay that will have you coming back for more. There is just something about it that kept me going and preventing me from throwing in towel. Not only does it have the main single player mode, aptly entitled ‘Main Mode’, but also a challenge mode in which players have to complete various waste management tasks, an Unlimited mode that just continues until the bin overflows and a Versus Mode for 2 players to battle each other. Trash Panic also supports online leader boards and YouTube uploading (a feature that I think should be used more often on PS3 games). What is the price for all this quaintly Japanese puzzling? Just £3.99 – bargain.
Make no mistake though, while there is plenty to be doing there are only six core stages used throughout the game. A bit more variety wouldn’t go amiss, but then again, it is just £3.99 and I hope more levels will be added in the future as DLC.
While I heartily recommend this game, it is certainly not for everyone. The difficulty and steep learning curve will put off people from the very start – you need a lot of patience to succeed and the tenacity to keep on going even when it seems impossible. If you are not one for repeating levels in order to succeed or get frustrated easily, then perhaps this is not the game for you – sometimes clearing a stage can be down to the luck of which objects appear at critical moments, but if you like a challenge and your games with a large portion of character, then this is definitely worth a punt.