Everyone knows the popular saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, well I believe that Epic Dumpster Bear: Dumpster Fire Redux from Log Games falls into that category. Whilst clearly not a book, the game seems to be created from generic assets which, based on screenshots, appear to look pretty low-budget and ugly. However, the good thing about games is they entertain us with more than their pretty graphics. If the gameplay holds up then anything can turn out to be a blast when you actually begin to play it. I’m happy to say that Epic Dumpster Bear is a blast to play.
This is where I became conflicted with Epic Dumpster Bear as it looks pretty bad but the game embraces that and instead delivers a solid platformer instead of a pretty one. So, come with me as I take a closer look at this title which a lot of you probably overlooked…
The story in Epic Dumpster Bear is very minimal and silly. I think the game explains it best so I’ll quote the opening below:
An Evil Corporation Destroyed his forest, forcing him to eat dumpster food to survive. Now it’s his turn to take out the trash!
**Upon completing the inital ‘revenge’ level and getting caught**
The Corporation’s deal with the government stated they had to relocate the wildlife. With his home destroyed in the name of economic growth, he was moved to unfamiliar territory. Weak from months of dumpster food, the bear vowed revenge
There you have it, the whole backstory to the game, short and sweet and straight into the action. You will basically play as a hunchback anamorphic bear as you set out on a journey of over 65 levels within seven worlds with the goal of taking revenge against the company who put you in this position. However, you won’t be fighting the corporation during your adventure, be prepared to take on cows, drones, giant bees, alligators who live in barrels and more. This game is very, very silly and it knows it is and that’s part of the charm. The impressive thing is how responsive and fun it is to play.
Okay, so I’ve praised them a few times so let’s talk about the controls – I was expecting floaty or sub-par controls if I’m being honest, but instead we are actually given pretty good control over the bear. The game gradually increases in difficulty and it gives you enough time to learn new mechanics like wall jumping and attacking the enemies before you are forced to do so in more frantic situations. The controls are so easy, anyone can pick up the game and play it with it’s ‘Marios controls’ (Square or Triangle to run and Cross or Circle to jump) – however, as you progress further into the game, you may need to start using the abilities more and more as you search for the collectables.
In regards to the difficulty, yeah, the game gets harder as you progress – with some of the bosses causing me a lot of trouble. This is elevated by the fact you only have two hearts (no, you’re not Doctor Who, you just have two hit points). This reminds me of old-school games where you would have one or two hitpoints and if you die then you must start again, and boy will you start again many times! There is no option to upgrade the number of hearts so later levels get pretty frustrating but also satisfying once you finally manage to beat them. However, if you reach the checkpoint (which is a dumpster), then you will be given a heart back. You can also pay, when you die, to come back to life but with three hearts – but it’s quite expensive.
You will spend the majority of your time performing platforming, jumping on enemies heads to kill them, straddling a pipe as you slide down it, or running around, but you also have various abilities. The first set of abilities you unlock, which can only be used if you pick up their token, are the bombs and the double jump. The bombs are simple enough – pick up a hard hat and you can throw bombs at enemies which is essential in one of the boss fights. The double jump is rather comical and surprising. You can tell something is going to be off about the double jump when you realise that in order to obtain it you must pick up a rotten fish’s head… Basically, the double jump isn’t the magical ability to jump in mid-air – an ability most modern gaming heroes possess these days – nope, the bear jumps as normal and the second jump is basically the bear being projected further into the air by the power of his farts. Yes, it uses the crude fart to jump mechanic and it’s quite funny.
Regarding the collectables, each level has coins to collect and three red coins (sound familiar?) scattered around for you to look for. Regular coins will allow you to revive from death with more health and unlock bonus missions, whereas the red coins will unlock a Salmon on each level. Another reward is if you get 100 points as then you unlock stamps. That’s right – remember the Wii U and the Miiverse and how certain games allowed you to unlock stamps in-game to use as you trolled the forums and spammed everyone with images? Well, Epic Dumpster Bear was once a Wii U only title and it’s kept the stamps in the game. They literally have no use on the PS4 as you can’t select them or use them in the messages part of the PS4, they just serve as an ‘I collected all the red coins in this level’ reward. Very strange but on the Wii U I imagine the addition of those was a great bonus.
In terms of the level design, I can’t really fault it if I’m being honest, it’s very Sonic mixed with Mario when you break it down as you don’t continuously move to the right, you will be jumping around, coming back on yourself, and going up a lot. However, it has pipes (well, barrels) and a lot of jumps like running jump, double jump, wall jump etc… The good thing is, it all works really well together if you ignore the graphics. Some of the levels seem like they have been created by someone who has modded an older game to make it 1000x harder (like modders usually do), but all levels are doable with a bit of patience and time as Epic Dumpster Bear has no timers in the main game, so there is no rush. There are also alternative paths in some levels, like in Super Mario World, where you can take them and obtain access to a secret mission on the map. However, you need to replay the level again if you wish to finish correctly and progress.
Also, another extra over the Wii U original is the inclusion of time-based rewards where you are tasked with completing the levels within a certain time. These are really tricky but each level has been planned out so carefully that it’s actually possible yo just run right through each level seamlessly which makes this a great game for speedrunners.
This brings me to the elephant in the room, the graphics. I’ve touched on them a bit in the review but they aren’t that good. As stated above, it seems like they may be generic assets being used with little alterations to their initial design (which I could be wrong about, but they seem like they are), but that doesn’t matter as the game works great. It’s just that when looking at the game a few things seem out of place – the character models seem realistic (in terms of visual style, not that a 6ft bee is realistic) but the backgrounds are slightly cartoony and void of anything but the odd dumpster. Some backgrounds even look like a desert for some reason.
Sound-wise, the music is great. I know I’ve said that a few times now but it really is. It’s all for comedic effect I gather as the game will give you over-the-top dramatic music when playing it’s short and rather funny, cutscenes and then go all chirpy and happy on the menu screen followed by super intense during gameplay. Again, I don’t know if the music is created for this game specifically or if it’s been bought for use in the game. Either way, I really enjoyed it as it gets you pumped to play the game!
Official Trailer (With epic music):
Epic Dumpster Bear: Dumpster Fire Redux is a game that I know a lot of people will overlook due to how the game looks and people judging a game with still images – however, if you do that then you’re missing out on a decent platformer. True, the game isn’t the prettiest to look at and the game can get pretty tricky and downright hard as nails with your two hearts and giant enemies, but it’s also a lot of fun to explore for collectables and kill cows by jumping on them. The game boasts a lot of content and will definitely offer you a challenge as you aim to complete it or go for the platinum.
This is certainly one that platformer game fans should get for their collection, especially those fans who like to play super hard fan-made modded games.