Tiny Tower, big dreams
(Note: This is an updated review of the new 1.5 version)
While many other games I review are tossed aside to make room for the next title, Tiny Tower by NimbleBit has been a game that I've kept coming back to time and time again.
The game is set in a tower block that features both apartments and shops and the idea is to encourage residents (or bitizens as they are known) in, then find them suitable jobs where they can be happy.
While it sounds simple enough on paper, putting this in to practice is like juggling eggs with one hand tied behind your back. Paying for stock, ensuring items don't run out and working out for the gap in the market to ensure you place the right type of business next all need to be done while you act as a glorified bellboy, shuttling people up and down lifts.
While the description of the game might not sound very thrilling, NimbleBit have done everything to ensure that every decision is memorable and the Pixel art graphics go a long way to help this cause. Every resident of your tower is unique and they all have different needs. Some are artistic, some like the service industry and others are mixed. Putting them in their ideal job makes them happy.
Happy Bitizens in the perfect jobs are labelled Dream Jobbers. These level up quicker and will gain you Tower Bux, the cash that lets you instantly restock or build levels without waiting. The mix of finding the right job and ensuring you build enough residential floors will have you turning in your sleep, not to mention the every day ebb and flow of business that is so crucial to Tiny Tower's world.
Every so often a VIP will appear in the lift, helping with one aspect or another. Sometimes it will be a construction worker, able to speed up the building of a new floor. Another time it will be someone who can speed up the restocking of items on the floor of your choice. Luck often comes in to their usefulness.
Spicing things up further, deliveries and messages are flagged up. These require the player to find a certain Bitizen. Once you've built up a few hundred floors this can be a tough task. Even when every character in the game is unique, locating the right Bitizen can be a challenge.
The new update (version 1.5) adds another fundamental change to the game; Missions. Mostly. missions involve stocking and selling certain objects. It pushes the player towards obtaining more floors so they can own the business that will create the stock. Moreover, the feature of gifting has been added in order for players to gift their friends items that they might not be able to stock themselves. This opens up the mission challenges for social gaming and finding friends (using Game Center) is essential to complete many of the missions unless you happen to have a few thousand floors already at your disposal.
Missions are a simple idea beautifully crafted, which reflects the game as a whole. The same effect can be seen directly from the graphics NimbleBit have lovingly created. On first glance the blocky pixel graphics hold little in the way of detail. But look closer and the world comes alive. Burger bars have signs for drinks and meals and a little security camera in the corner, residential areas have roaring fires or are decorated with books and files on neat little shelves.
The menu system hides further detail. Clicking on the BitBook icon will give you a Facebook style exchange between the Bitizens, gaining an insight in to their thoughts and fears. It's yet another small feature that adds so much to the game without being a game mechanic itself. Stat fans will love the Stats option, checking the balance between their various industries and sales per minute.
Icons to gain more money from exchanging Tower Bux and upgrade the elevator (again, using Tower Bux) increase your options. It's certainly tempting to go for broke, but you can bet that you'll be needing a few Bux just as you run out.
While Tiny Tower is a free game, the in-app purchases help fund the project. Far from being obtrusive, they aid the speedy building of towers and restocking buy allowing players to buy more Tower Bux. The game can be played perfectly well without spending a penny, though.
Tiny Towers is a microsystem in your pocket. It will take over your waking life as you worry about restocking items and whether your tower needs another foodstall or a car showroom, it may even have you waking in the middle of the night. But it does all this in such a cute way that you'll forgive it every time.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 10
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