It’s amazing, but true – Trash Panic has the same maddeningly addictive qualities as Tetris. The concept is simple, there’s a bin on screen and objects are dropped or ‘smashed’ from above into it. The junk piles up and you need to keep smashing bikes into TVs and chairs into boats in order to crumple it down and so leave space above for more trash. When all the rubbish is compacted, you win the round. It’s a game of survival against a conveyor belt of the world’s worst junk.
The simplicity soon unravels as you play further into the game and the simple office trash like cups, pens and computers is replaced by skyscrapers, airships and oil tanks, all the way up to mountains, tankers and spaceships. The rules remain though: some items are more easily compacted than others, some have hidden weak spots and others need to have something smashed into them rather than the reverse.
Some items can be burnt, too. Paper and wood-based junk goes up nicely, as does oil – which floats on the surface of water poured from toilets. Oil refineries and tankers explode when heated, taking more junk with them than simply burning. The skill to burning is to close the lid on your bin, which makes the flames burn more fiercely, but starves the fire of vital oxygen. An onscreen meter shows you when to whip off the bin’s lid and feed the flames. Learning how and when to use fire is crucial – you must master it.
Likewise, water plays a crucial role. Some items won’t burn, but they can be dissolved when used with Eco Balls – small purple spheres that eat trash when soaked. Linking a wet Eco Ball with a dry one further up the bin enables you to pour water into parts of the bin closed off by a random trash pile. You even can shake the Sixaxis to juggle junk into new positions.
As you play, you’ll need to weigh up which items best smash each other up, which can be burned and what can be dissolved. Items that could bounce and fly out of the bin need to be placed somewhere rather than smashed, and bonus items like old bombs and gas tanks can explode when heated, clearing the bin in one single massive blast. There are special items called Mohiaina, too. These have to be placed gently into the bottom of the bin so the character Gomy can collect them. Saving Mohiaina earns you Eco Balls or handy items, while smashing these results in hard-to-crush junk falling from the sky.
Boss fights enter the game on the higher difficulty settings – junk that can only be smashed in certain ways – and this makes things even trickier. There are a few ways to play too, with a survival mode (where junk emerges continuously from the belts) and a Mission mode. Best is a fun two-player versus mode. There’s a YouTube recorder too, which enables you to record up to 20 minutes of footage and upload it for your mates to gawp at. It’s not often a PSN game earns such high marks. This is a perfect puzzle game that deserves a place in your collection. Essential.
Jun 10, 2009