2D platformers star all sorts of creatures yet very few feature bears like me so grab a juicy salmon and let's jump to it.
As a bear gamer, I often feel underrepresented considering almost every video game that I play stars a human. There are odd games featuring bears that pop up every now and then yet few of them truly reflect the reality that bears live within. For example, Super Rude Bear Resurrection depicts bears as ill-mannered which we are generally not and Astro Bears Party features a cast of goofy cartoonish bears which makes us look oafish. Meanwhile, Bears Can't Drift!? literally has a stereotype in its title. I have news for you; we can drift and we're darn good at it, too! Have you ever seen Polar race in Crash Team Racing? Anyway, the first game I ever played that is even remotely representative of my species was Epic Dumpster Bear and I'm happy to say that there's finally a sequel and it's a ton of fun.
Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins continues the story of the original yet this time around, our hero has some cool new moves. As a result of crashing back to Earth after his epic adventure in space, the bear can now double-jump, punch, and boost in mid-air. On top of this, you'll find some cool hats that allow you to throw explosive curling rocks and bombs. These abilities help with platforming, taking out enemies, and solving puzzles and the amount of variety within the campaign is simply awesome. Plus, there are loads of gimmicks such as grind rails, springs, and switches that may move or materialize platforms.
The story of Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins involves trying to take down an evil corporation which is like the first game but this time, you'll slowly realise that the corporation has been experimenting on different animals in order to create a food supply and feed their ever-growing greed. It's true that the bear is essentially on a quest for revenge but it's not unwarranted and all of the gritty violence that unfolds feels entirely justified unlike in a certain other game. Overall, it's a truly inspiring and emotional tale of overcoming adversity and it's free of stereotypical revenge plot tropes. In fact, I hope to see more bears represented in such heroic ways.
Another area in which Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins triumphs is in its replay value. First of all, the main campaign which features just over 40 stages is rather short and can easily be completed within 1 or 2 gaming sessions. However, you can play through each stage again in order to collect all 3 hard-to-reach red coins, try and hit the bullseye at the end, beat your record time, and gather more coins that you can then redeem either for extra hearts whenever you're in a pickle or to unlock bonus stages. There are also secret exits which act similarly to the ones in Super Mario World as they unlock new levels, too. How cool is that?
Of course, Epic Dumpster Bear 2 has its downsides as well. For starters, the entire game is composed of existing game assets which is fairly funny yet it also feels sloppy at times. I assume that the developer made this decision so they could focus on the gripping and complex narrative and if that's the case, it's easily excusable. Finally, there is a boss fight at the end of each world but many of them are like "whatever, dude". I mean... you know? You know what I mean. I don't have to explain myself any more than that.
While the end credits rolled, I felt hopeful, inspired, and downright delighted. I can't wait to play through it again. With that being said; there's no denying that what Epic Dumpster Bear 2 accomplishes with its visuals, mood, and gameplay is nothing short of meh.
- + It's fantastic that bears are given a platform, especially in a platformer
- + Emotional story of overcoming adversity
- + Fun varied gameplay and lots of replay value
- - Humorously yet sloppily slapped together with existing game assets
- - Rather short campaign
- - Boss fights are like "whatever, dude"