Trash Panic

The first thing you have to know about this game is that it's rubbish. That's not meant in the comic sense, making a play on the game's trashy title, it's simply that the game is pants, pish poor, puddle pap. The Tetris/Lumines-style concept of arranging falling blocks is one that thrives largely because of its mathematical precision and simplicity. Games like Lumines have near-infinite replay value, thanks to insanely addictive puzzle action, made possible through clarity and strict rules. Trash Panic uses the falling blocks concept and then throws precision, logic and cleanliness out of the window to litter the street.

Things start to go wrong from the second the game loads. The menus have loud, offensive music, with slow, clunky options that do very little to suggest what the point of the game is. Eventually, it's easy enough to find the standard marathon mode, and once you've beaten levels, they become available to play seperately, but until you've played the game a little, it's not at all clear what you're supposed to be doing or why. If you resort to the help menu to make progress, you're greeted by stale, static pages that present generic waffle about how certain items degrade or burn, but nothing that really declares what your objectives should be.

Trash Panic

When you do get started, the game features a trash can, as expected, and a conveyor-belt full of rubbish to be disposed of, ranging from small items such as guitars, chairs, vases and pots, through to spectacularly large constructs as you progress. When a new object arrives, you can rotate the object as you wish, before smashing it down into your bin. The hope is that the item will smash not only itself but any items below. With items smashed up, they'll crush down more easily, leaving more space for trash. With soft squidgy items to worry about, and bouncy ones which are even worse, you can't just hurl everything into the bin. Instead, careful placement will allow players to dispose of the breakables together, while collecting the unbreakable objects neatly in one place. Breaking objects isn't the only handy tactic though, with fire and water available in later levels affecting certain types of item. Fire, in particular, can be very effective at clearing rubbish, but there is a downside. Harmful effects like fire and water can damage special items, usually rare paintings or jewellry, that players are expected to deliver gently to the bottom of the bin to be collected by bizarre creatures. Destroying a special item will result in serious punishment (huge amounts of trash dropped into your bin, blocking things up completely), adding a serious incentive.

In life, it's extremely important to consider rubbish and where it goes. Every attempt should be made to re-use and recycle before we idiotic humans tear our world apart, and if that message is what Trash Panic is trying to get across, then fine, that's good. Still, as a game, it's just not that much fun. Despite the catchy name: Havoc Physics, the game's engine seems quite uninspiring, with little in the way of spectacle to the trash breaking. In fact, the slight randomness of the breakages can be quite frustrating, with some fragile items inexplicably surviving multiple hits before smashing. The gradual disintegration of items is so waffly and haphazard that every game feels like it owes more to luck than the sort of puzzle-solving strategy required in games like Lumines.

Trash Panic

The game doesn't even look particularly impressive either, with less visual flare than competitor Lumines. It's quite a bit cheaper, but in terms of value for money, it's a long way short of Lumines. The bright colours aren't snappy enough or as stylized as they could be, drifting firmly into the empty space between the realistic visuals of games like Metal Gear and the fantasy settings of titles like Folkore. Then there's the sound, which fluctuates between annoying effects and poor music. Nothing compares with the distraction of overflowing rubbish though. In Trash Panic, your trash can is allowed to fill completely, with the game ending only if three items of rubbish hit the floor. Whenever a single object leaps from your trash container, gameplay stops and transitions (far from smoothly) to a slow-motion capture of the event, with an annoying sound effect. It's completely pointless and extremely distracting.

With that much to criticize, Trash Panic shouldn't score above 2/10, but there's still something slightly addictive about playing the game. Something about object-dropping games has always found a way to capture people, and although Trash Panic is perhaps the worst ever seen, it still captures the magic. If you can gain some satisfaction from smashing objects on the floor, and survive long enough to reach the more interesting stages, then there's definitely scope for a little fun with the game. Helping that considerably are multiplayer options which give the game an extra layer of interest. There's nothing like mutual frustration and a shared rant to overcome any rubbish gameplay mechanics.

Overall, despite multiplayer modes, trophies and some occasionally addictive puzzling, there's a lot wrong with Trash Panic, which can only slightly be forgiven with the game's relatively cheap price tag (though it still costs as much as the early, and excellent, releases of flOw and Blast Factor). If you turn the sound down and wrap your head around the game's slightly odd physics, then there's potential for a few hours fun. For gamers with a wide selection of games, Trash Panic is something that might add a new facet to the collection, but for those seeking just a couple of decent titles from the Playstation Store, Trash Panic would not be among the best candidates.

Game details

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Review summary


Lacking the precision of Lumines and clumsy to play


Annoying presentation and basic visuals


Loud, imposing music and mediocre effects


Good growth potential but a poor learning curve


Cosmic Dust

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