Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins (PlayStation 4)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Audio
  • Visuals
  • Entertainment

Also available on Windows

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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/20/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

This is the game I’ve dreamt of since I first played Epic Dumpster Bear on my Wii U years ago.  I spent sleepless nights wondering what became of Dumpster Bear after he destroyed the evil corporation’s space station and put a halt to their nefarious plans.  Finally, at long last, I have an answer…but will this answer my questions, or will it just raise more?  -cue ominous music-

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Let me be upfront right here at the beginning; I know Epic Dumpster Bear is not a masterpiece of platforming perfection.  It’s an indie game made in Unity.  It does, however, have something that a lot of bigger budget 2D platformers lack – soul.  This game just oozes personality and style.  It’s message is a serious one – a warning about the dangers that unchecked and unrestrained capitalism poses to the environment and wildlife – but that message is delivered in a way that’s both humorous and interesting.  Not necessarily interesting in a compelling narrative with deep characters and philosophical undertones but rather interesting in that the writing is so clever that you can’t help but be curious what the next bit of text dialogue is.

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Visually, it’s identical to the first game.  Even the icon is the same except for the addition of fire behind the dumpster and the number 2 with the subtitle.  The obviously low budget aesthetic is part of its charm, though, and I don’t mean that ironically.  It really does just ooze charm.  You can tell that this was a dude’s passion project, and that’s one of the most endearing things about the game for me.  The sound design is pretty much like the visuals – virtually identical to the first game.  The enemies and level traps add a bit to the first game, but you’ll still see fire jets and barrel gators return.  God, I missed the barrel gators.  So stupid but so awesome.  You do get two cool new mechanics; a forward attack and some special hats.  In the first game, you could only attack by landing on enemies a la Super Mario Bros.  In this game, you get an attack kind of like Mario’s Tanooki suit tail.  Depending on the level, you may also get one of two hats.  One hat lets you throw curling stone bombs that slide across the ground until they explode, and the other hat lets you throw more traditional looking bombs that explode on impact.  You have to be on a level that gives you these hats, but they add a super cool element both to enemy destruction as well as obstacle destruction.

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The controls are mostly pretty good.  Dumpster Bear’s movement feels super slick almost as if he’s sliding on ice whenever he moves, but it didn’t take me long to get used to that.  Jumping feels good, and aside from a few instances of spotty hit detection, the attacking feels solid and responsive.  If this were a $10 or $15 game, I’d be complaining more about the controls, but between the game’s charm and its low price point, it’s really a solid package here.  The controls aren’t bad by any means; there’s just a little bit of a learning curve to get used to the rather slick movement.

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Epic Dumpster Bear 2 may not be a Sonic Mania or a New Super Mario Bros, but for its price, it’s a solid game, and it’s probably my favorite indie platformer simply for how charismatic the game is.  It’s normally $5 – a completely reasonable price in my opinion – but for PlayStation Plus subscribers, you can get it and the first game for just under $5.  I’m not sure if that’s a regular PS+ deal or a limited time sale, but that’s what I paid, and it’s MORE than worth that price of admission.  If you’re good at platformers, it’ll probably only take you a couple of hours to get through the game.  If you’re not so good at platformers (like me), it may take a few more hours, but even then, I played through the game from start to finish in an afternoon.  Whether you’re playing on PS4 or Windows, I absolutely recommend both the first Epic Dumpster Bear (psssst…play it on Wii U) and Epic Dumpster Bear 2.  I’m hoping for an eventual Switch release (fingers crossed).

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