MAKUHARI--Think Tetris, but with garbage. That's the simplest description of Gomibako, a PlayStation Network puzzle game we found in the Sony booth here on the show floor of the 2008 Tokyo Game Show. It's a bit early for proclamations--we're only halfway through day one of TGS--but we can safely say that Gomibako is one of our favorite games of the show so far.
The goal of the game--if our understanding of it is correct--is to pile as much garbage as you possibly can into a huge junkyard crate without making it overflow. Various items (such as mattresses, teddy bears, bicycles, huge plastic slides, fire extinguishers, statues, and flaming swords) drop from a garbage carrier overhead, and you have some control over where and how they are placed. For instance, you can twist an item by pressing the circle button.
The key to the gameplay, it seems, is the physics of the objects themselves. Because you want to pile as much trash in the bin as possible, your best bet is to break the items, thus creating room for more junk. To do so, you can simply drop the item by pressing the up button on the directional pad. This will cause the object to drop and often shatter at the bottom of the container. It doesn't work all the time--teddy bears, for example, are awfully hard to shatter, and bigger items don't break easily, though they often bend under the weight of garbage that piles on top of them.
As the garbage piles up, you have a few weapons at your disposal. The aforementioned flaming sword, for example, will heat up and eventually set aflame any nearby garbage; if it burns enough to disintegrate, there will be a lot of room for you to pile more junk in. On the flip side, some objects--such as toilets, will splash water onto the floor of your junk container. As the water builds up, it will prevent that bottom layer from burning up. Add to that a strange little alien dude who roams back and forth near the ground, picking out certain items from your garbage pile he likes and removing them, and you've got a strange and wonderful recipe for fun.
We got only a single run-through in Gomibako, but the highlight was the "boss" fight--a huge car that we somehow had to find room for in our rapidly increasing pile of crap. Once we dropped it in, garbage overflow spilled over the top of our bin, endangering the lives of the pedestrians below. You get only three strikes of overflow before it's game over, and it wasn't long before we struck out once and for all.
There's no way this will be our last try against that infernal rusted jalopy--we look forward to getting some spare time here in Tokyo to try Gomibako again. There's no word on a release date for the game yet, and our brief demo didn't give us much of an idea of what other modes the game might have. Nonetheless, we're impressed and hope it's heading stateside soon.