Trash Panic

Common Sense Media says

Green-minded game delivers good puzzles and lots of action.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game rewards players for the safe and efficient disposal of trash through compaction, immolation, and biodegradation. Unsafe disposal results in toxic gases being released into the atmosphere, which increases a player's carbon footprint and negatively impacts their final grade. 

Violence & scariness

Players can drop lit matches into the trash bins to set the garbage afire. One of the trash items is dynamite, which can cause an explosion if it touches the fire. Explosions sometimes have an impact on buildings surrounding the trash bins, but no people are injured.

Not applicable
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:June 4, 2009
ESRB rating:E for (PlayStation 3)

This review of Trash Panic was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 1 and 1 year old Written bykyle jd July 2, 2009


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