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The Trash Pack (DS, 3DS)
Game Reviews

The Trash Pack (DS, 3DS)

A lackluster collection of a paltry four poorly-designed minigames, none of which show much inspiration or thoughtfulness; it’s hard to imagine even diehard Trashling fans spending much time with this one.

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Some have likened Moose Enterprise’s The Trash Pack as this generation’s answer to The Garbage Pail kids; I’ll give you that both center around cleverly named characters that look like their description, but that’s about it. It’s not really a generation thing – The Garbage Pail kids rocked the house, and helped introduce at least one of the most respected comic artists of century, Art Spiegelman (Maus). The Trash Pack is just that: another trashy, exploitive collect-o-thon franchise built around Pokémon’s core concept of “gotta have ‘em all”, no doubt shipped with a shelf life resembling their namesake.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a little crass consumerism – especially with characters aptly named like Burpy Slurpy, Cacky Cake, and Waste Worm. The Trashies are actually a mix of anthropomorphized refuse that’s been tossed by the wayside, made up by bits of discarded food, insects, appliances, and even deranged trash-starved critters. Heck, if I were wearing my short pants I’d probably be all over this series. In reality, The Trash Pack is more like Mind Candy’s equally-collectable series, Moshi Monsters Moshlings, albeit nowhere as creative or memorable. And like the Moshlings, the Track Pack videogame is also from licensed-game factory Activision.

Yet, for the price of a full game you’re stuck with just four paltry minigames to play through, again and again, until you’ve unlocked each and every one of the game’s 160+ Trashlings. Don’t expect much in the way of variety or ingenuity, either, as each of the trash-named activities feels like their namesake; discarded attempts at something better. At least the package includes a Collector’s Guide i.e. the “digital poster” that tracks how many Trashies you’ve collected while playing through – 160 from Series 1 as well as a few select ones from the upcoming Series 2.

Trash Catch has you guiding the garbage truck back and forth, collecting falling pieces of trash over and over again. Trash Attack reverses the formula somewhat, as you’ll guide one of the Trashlings back and forth, this time avoiding falling trash while snatching up aluminum cans. Trash Drop mixes things up a bit by having you pressing and holding an action button to charge your meter, releasing it at just the right moment to launch a random character into a garbage crane (?) in order to drop the trash into garbage cans. Trash Toss – by far the worst of the bunch – has you flinging trash using the bottom touchscreen to the top, hoping against hope that some of your launches find their intended garbage cans.

The goal of each game, naturally, is not only to survive but to also snag as many Mystery Boxes as possible which, once collected, unlock further Trashlings in the Collector’s Guide. And that’s really all there is to the game.

As I said above, I really dig the Trash Pack’s style – it’s a fun, if simplistic, take on the overdone collecting genre that’s peppered with just a hint of wink-wink naughtiness to make it appealing to even bigger kids like myself. It’s a shame that more detail wasn’t put into the game, as having something grotesquely fun to look at would have made the shallowness of the minigames less grating, with bippy sound effects and lackluster tunes making this whole production feel every bit the mass-marketed and bargain-bin ready release it was destined to be. While I played the standard DS version, I can’t believe the game gains anything more in the 3DS version, apart from a slightly higher price.

There’s absolutely no reason why these licensed collect-o-thon games have to be so forgettable, but that’s exactly what The Trash Pack is; a lackluster collection of a paltry four poorly-designed minigames, none of which show much inspiration or thoughtfulness. It’s hard to imagine even diehard Trashling fans spending much time with this one, given how shallow the package looks and feels. What’s worse is that you’ll actually have to pony up big bucks to play it; if this were a mobile game you’d be looking at a standard $.99 app at the most (and possibly a freemium one). It’s a shame, really, because The Trash Pack seems like a fun license that’s bursting with potential for a decent videogame adaptation in the right hands. Provided the franchise lasts that long, wait for that one and avoid this garbage.

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10/30/2012

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Activision

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About the Author: Trent McGee