Trash Panic (Japan Title: Gomibako) [PS3] Review

LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING

I, the understand, do solemnly swear on pain of death by robotic rottweiler mauling, that the following review shall contain no poor rubbish based puns, including, but not limited to ‘Gomibako is (not) rubbish’ ‘Gomibako should (not) be consigned to the rubbish bin’ and ‘ Gomibako is (no) more than a collection of puzzle game mechanics recycled from other successful titles.’

Reasonjp

Gomibsako is, as you might expect, a game with a strong environmental message. To that end, it’s appropriate that it’s a PSN game, a lack of nasty plastic packaging and glossy paper manuals ensuring your real life carbon footprint is reduced just a smidge. Gomibakois friendly to the environment, then, but not to the consumer, in Japan at least. Released at an obscenely expensive 1500 Yen, Sony Japan were perhaps bemused at a lack of sales, then having the bright idea of releasing a pay per play version- wherein you have to pay 100 Yen for a measly three plays. So to the US store then, where Gomibako, under the pseudonym Trash Panic, costs 5 Dollars.

With PSP Go coming soon, a lot of attention will be placed on the price of DLC and games on demand- and in the era of high quality, low price iPhone games, this sort of price discrepancy is ridiculous. This review is, naturally, based on the reasonably priced US version of the game, as a small middle finger to SCEJ. Pull your collective finger out. And fix the video store so there’s content some people might actually be interested in. Chumps.

 Right, rant over, on with the review.Gomibakois a puzzle game, and loading the thing straight up and guiding objects as they fall into a box, you may be forgiven for thinking this is another match three type of game, only this time one that potentially cost you far too much money. The truth is more complex however. The aim of the game is to dispose of rubbish as efficiently as possible, using the triangle button to smash smaller objects into pieces, and then setting them on fire, or making use of water and decomposition agents. While the instinct may be to burn everything in sight, some mottainai rubbish mustn’t be smashed or burnt, and instead saved by little gremlin things who patrol the bottom of the screen.

You have to save mottainai (wasteful) rubbish. Quite why throwing sushi away is considered wasteful, but chucking computers and buildings in the bin isnt is a mystery.

You have to save 'mottainai' (wasteful) rubbish. Quite why throwing sushi away is considered wasteful, but chucking computers and buildings in the bin isn't is a mystery.

The puzzle genre as a whole is very often about creatively manipulating game rules that have been in place for years (take iPhone star Drop 7’s unique twist on the connect three philosophy for example) and Gomibakoleaves a good first impression- especially if you leap into versus mode righht away. As multiplayer in puzzle games should be, it’s an entertaining way to figure out the ins and outs of the game, and can be furiously competitive- objects have their own physical properties, and finding you can bounce items off mattresses from your bin into your opponents’ is a gleeful thing.

Ultimately, though, your friends will leave, and with apparently 99 percent of Japanese developers being scared of net coding, there’s no online here, leaving the single player modes. Single player ups the complexity a touch, forcing you to think about how to keep fires alive through fuel and oxygen management, and complexity is fine, but Gomibako’s drawback is that it’s too hard for its own good. Normal mode levels require you to dump an insane amount of rubbish, while mission mode typically has you repeating the same task hundreds of times before permitting you to progress. It’s at this point that the experience starts to sour somewhat, the fantastic first impressions the game gives being squandered by being ever so slightly too demanding for the player. Keep at it, and it is a rewarding, fun experience (try lighting the big gas canisters) , but you’ll still be annoyed by the odd bizarre physics glitch costing you your game.

Gomibako isn’t going to set anyone ‘s world alight, but it is an enjoyable, charming game, that’s great fun with friends round. The Japanese asking price is ridiculous, but at 5USD, it’s a decent throwaway experience. Oh shi- [glass shatters, mechanical yelping] 

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