Trash Tycoon is a breath of fresh, smog-free air

Instead of building a city, Trash Tycoon asks you to clean one up. The houses and streets are already there, but they’re a mess. It’s a game that attempts to teach players about the benefits of recycling, but it doesn’t really feel like an educational game. And that’s because, in spite of a few flaws and the fact that it doesn’t really do much new, Trash Tycoon is actually pretty fun.

You start the game in what looks to be a suburban neighborhood. Only it looks like one that’s been through a tornado or two. The houses are destroyed and litter is everywhere, and so naturally it’s up to you to clean everything up. As you pick up piles of trash you’ll gather items like shards of glass, plastic bottles, and scraps of paper. But instead of simply recycling them, you can upcycle the resources to earn some money.

Trash Tycoon

While most of the buildings in town are already in place, you can build a number of facilities that turn recyclable goods into something useful that you can then sell for money. Plastic can be turned into a lunchbox, for example, or some toys. Depending on what you choose to make the process will take a certain amount of time to complete, and the longer it takes the more money you’ll earn.

And that’s most of the game. You clean up areas and then use the resources you gather to create new items that can be sold for cash, which you can then use to further beautify the town. The problem is that most actions take far too much energy. Cleaning up a pile of trash or a small house can easily wipe out all of your energy, which makes it hard to accomplish much in one single session. The game alleviates this somewhat by letting you buy energy with in-game currency, but you can only buy enough to refill your meter once per day.

Trash Tycoon

On the positive side, the game looks great. The art style is clean and colorful and the character’s are packed with personality. Even in its early dilapidated state, the city still looks great, while the facilities you can purchase hum along with a steady stream of animations. Even better is the catchy, upbeat soundtrack that you’ll likely be humming even when you’re not playing.

In the grand tradition of educational games, Trash Tycoon stands out as a rarity. It has a positive message, but it doesn’t bash you over the head with it and the message doesn’t interfere with the gameplay. The energy system can be frustrating, and it would be nice if there was a little more variety to the gameplay, but Trash Tycoon is still a breath of fresh, smog-free air.