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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a downloadable puzzle game for the PlayStation 3 and that it has a green theme. It rewards players for responsibly disposing of garbage and retaining a small virtual carbon footprint. Conversely, it punishes players (in terms of a performance grade) for simply burning all rubbish and increasing toxic emissions. There is a modicum of violence in that flaming trash can result in powerful explosions that can flatten nearby buildings. However, no people or animals ever appear to be hurt. Note that there is no tutorial and that the game's many facets can be tricky to figure out. We recommend reading the on-screen instruction manual before playing.
What's it about?
TRASH PANIC, a downloadable game available exclusively for the PlayStation 3 through the PlayStation Store, has players disposing of garbage expediantly and via environmentally friendly means when possible. Play feels vaguely like a game of Tetris, with players stacking various objects, ranging from sandwiches to playground slides, in a manner that saves as much space as possible. Once in the bin you can smash, burn, or compost the trash, depending on what it's made of and which tools you're provided. And while burning stuff is the simplest means of getting rid of large volumes of trash quickly, immolating the wrong sorts of objects releases toxic gases, which increases a player's carbon footprint and results in a lower score for that stage or mission.
Is it any good?
Though it can be difficult to figure out -- a quick interactive tutorial would have been preferable to the 20-page virtual manual provided -- once you've got a handle on how Trash Panic works there isn't much not to like about it. The rubbish stacking and disposal concept is exceedingly clever. In retrospect, it's rather shocking that game designers haven't previously tried to remove the abstraction from block stacking games by letting us pile up realistic objects governed by real-world physics.
And the green theme is nothing if not timely. This game has the potential to make players of all ages consider what happens to their trash after they dispose of it. And by rewarding us with "eco" points for disposing of garbage safely and punishing us with "ego" points for doing it in an ecologically unsound manner, the game instills in players a basic desire to ensure that our trash is properly handled. If even a tiny bit of that desire is carried into our everyday lives, then Trash Panic will have acted as a positive environmental influence -- no small feat for a video game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about environmentalism. Do you think that the game accurately depicts some of the ways in which people can dispose of their trash—safely or otherwise? Did it make you think about what happens to your garbage after you get rid of it? Could the game have been made more realistic while keeping the action fun? Did it bother you if you finished a level quickly but earned more “ego” than “eco” points for having disposed of rubbish in ways that negatively affect the environment?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.