Don’t worry – Trash TV isn’t a game about I’m A Celebrity, Big Brother and Jeremy Kyle. Instead it’s a rather more literal tale about a gun-toting CRT television set looking to find its lost remote control and escape the gloomy trash recycling factory where it was discarded. Coming from English indie developer Lawrie+Co, essentially a one-man development team, this old-school platformer promised puzzles, platforms and guns.
In screenshots Trash TV looks a little like hardcore platformer Super Meat Boy with it’s small, square hero and zippy controls. However where Super Meat Boy required split-second timing and exceptional reflexes, Trash TV is at its heart a puzzle game with some basic platforming tests and in this respect its a great success. The puzzles are just the right side of challenging and the gameplay is compelling enough that I ended up playing all the way through in a single session.
Even the various weapons that you pick up don’t make the game deviate from the puzzle template as the guns are generally used to destroy crates or activate switches, there’s very few occasions where you’ll have actual antagonists to shoot at. Even the rocket launcher and C4 weapons you receive are generally used to propel yourself around the screen in further attempts to solve rather than blow up your problems.
Much like the trusty old TV at the heart of the game there’s nothing too flashy about the pixelly graphics but they’re pleasing enough and match the gameplay pretty well. Similarly the audio is pretty minimalist with some basic sound effects and a quiet but ambient soundtrack. There is a lack of variety in the environments as you progress through the game though, where aside from the odd sections lit by red, molten steel you’ll find yourself navigating through dark corridors and conveyor belts.
Where the graphics do shine though are in the small touches that show the thought and care that has gone into the game. The game window takes place in a 4:3 resolution with curved corners (from before we had flat screen TVs), bursts of static accompany your progression from one screen to the next and the menu screen is essentially a Ceefax page. There’s also a more modern tribute to Portal included too as the respawning blocks you can pick up, which are usually dead TVs or washing machines, occasionally take the forms of Companion Cubes.
However it is disappointing that less care has been taken in other aspects of Trash TV’s development. Upon completing the game there were still two empty weapon slots in my inventory, and switching weapons themselves always felt a bit too fiddly – luckily most stages only require the use of the most recent weapon you’ve collected but there were a couple of stages where it was necessary to switch quickly which rarely went well.
More troubling however is the lack of cooperative multiplayer hinted at by the artwork which shows two TVs together. The fact the developer showcased a working prototype of the split-screen co-op mode over a year ago shows it was been worked on, but there’s still no further sign of it. And that leads onto another problem – the short length of the game. I barreled through in three hours, which included me getting stuck a few times and getting lost several times in the final stage. It may almost be a one-man development team and hence an impressive achievement to create a working and fun game, but given the time in production it’s surprising more stages couldn’t have been created.
I’ve criticised games in the past for being too short so it’s only fair I level the same claim against Trash TV, and it does take the shine off what is otherwise a very satisfying mix of puzzles and platforming. However overall it’s a very enjoyable experience and coming in at a very reasonable price and therefore easy to recommend.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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