Trash Panic is rubbish in the best possible way. A concept tossed out by Japan Studio when the PlayStation 3 was about as popular as a bin man in a hoarder's back room, the barmy release sees you playing Tetris with debris. It sounds simple enough, but it's harder than controlling your gag reflexes while washing in a bath filled with baked beans – and twice as fun, too.
You are a waste management specialist – or something. Various bits of tat fall from the sky, and you must crush them into smaller pieces by smashing them together in your own personal trash can. Some objects are stronger than others – scissors, dumbbells, speedboats – and so they can be used in conjunction with less robust items in order to lessen the refuse footprint in your dumpster.
The game scales up as you progress: hamburgers pave the way for houses, and it's not long before you're recycling entire planets. Additional mechanics are implemented without explanation, too: fire can be used to burn off unwanted goods at the expense of Greenpeace's approval, while water can also be combined with decomposition discs to help trash disappear in a more "natural" way.
This all leads to a scoring system where you're rated on your ecological or egotistical worth – and like the rest of the game, it doesn't really work. The problem is that it's practically impossible to succeed without blowing the odd object up, so you're never going to get a good rating. Fortunately, this doesn't prevent you from progressing, so it's not necessarily a big deal.
Still, we're convinced that no one at Japan Studio took the time to test this title, because even getting past the first level on standard settings requires a level of precision that not even a brain surgeon possesses. Dial the difficulty down and it does become much more enjoyable – even if it still feels like you're up against impossible odds.
There's a PSone-era charm to it, though, that makes it very much worthy of recommendation. In an age where hooded protagonists and sandboxes stacked with side-missions rule the roost, this is a refreshing little puzzle game with the most peculiar of premises. It's deep, too: you need to control oxygen levels in order to use fires more efficiently, and even shake the trash using the SIXAXIS.
And of course, this all lends itself to a completely unbalanced local multiplayer mode, in which you can cunningly toss litter over to the side of your opponent, and just generally lark about with the inconsistent physics in the company of a confused, soon to be former-friend. There are waste management missions as well, but we don't think that we've ever beaten any.
This is PlayStation Network detritus, then – the kind of dross that Sony was serving up with unashamed frequency in the early days of the PS3. But while it's not an especially well-made release in any way, it's also the type of title that doesn't really exist anymore – even in this age of "outlandish" indie games. The moral of this entire article: we need more downloadable junk.
Do you think that Trash Panic is a diamond in the rough, or is it just complete and utter crud? Deposit any unwanted waste in the comments section below.