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Packaging Man (PC) artwork

Packaging Man (PC) review


"All superheroes should hire image consultants. Most go awry with too-tight costumes or fluorescent colors. Packaging Man needs a little help in that area – a boring green shirt and hat will really only work for a plumber – but the real problem is his name. Dogwood Alliance designed this game as a platform to educate about deforestation in the southeastern United States. "



All superheroes should hire image consultants. Most go awry with too-tight costumes or fluorescent colors. Packaging Man needs a little help in that area – a boring green shirt and hat will really only work for a plumber – but the real problem is his name. Dogwood Alliance designed this game as a platform to educate about deforestation in the southeastern United States.

"Southern forests, the jewel of the American landscape, are being destroyed to bring you fried chicken, burgers and fries, and super-sized convenience in a glut of wrappers, boxes and cups."

That's the message they want to scream to the masses. But the moniker Packaging Man makes our hero sound very pro-container, like he runs around boxing up everything in sight. Or that he's the ultimate lobbyist for the destructive paper industry.

If Packaging Man was indeed against recycling before he was for it, he now enthusiastically reuses valuable resources, like other people's intellectual property. This game rips off the venerable arcade classic Pac-Man, right down to the sound effects. The disembodied head of Packaging Man floats through the familiar maze, gobbling up pellets (carbon credits?) to advance to the next stage. The super pellets that make him momentarily invincible resemble makeshift recycling logos. And every once in while, a small woodland creature appears and requires rescue from the heart of the wilderness. Hey, that's better than saving a bouncing piece of fruit.

Chasing down our public citizen are the specters of corporate greed: Blinky, Pinky, Inkey, and Clyde. That's right, the corrupt crew don't even try to hide their identities; they've become “respectable” executives dressed in suits, ties, and $520 loafers. It's copyright-infringing cool. Like their real-life counterparts at numerous paper companies, these ghouls are adept at looking out for their own interests and running roughshod over hard-working Americans. You're only alloted three lives, plus one likely extra. It'll take a little bit of effort to see the game through to the finish, even though PM's head rolls faster than any enemy.

Of course, the game is short. The three stages should take about five minutes to complete. When the goal is to deliver such an important message, well, it's prudent to make it relatively simple to hear the whole thing. If I had any impressionable children in my custody, it's one I'd want them to receive. When Peter Q. Rabbit talks about our overpackaged culture at the end of the first level, they're the ones that will cry. When Screwy Squirrel laments about the five million acres of forest obliterated every year for stupid boxes, their jaws will drop farthest. When Mr. Turtle invites us to send ultimatums to major offenders like McDonald's, Taco Bell, and KFC, their little hearts will fill with the most hope. Everyone else, read the press release, let your voice be heard, and make the effort to recycle.

Rating: 5/10

woodhouse's avatar
Community review by woodhouse (August 06, 2008)

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