I've never been much for mobile gaming. I mean, mobile phone gaming. The battery life is too valuable. I could be tweeting and instagraming instead! Now that I own an iPad though, I've been seeking ways to expand its usage outside of Netflix and tumblr.
But then I found 'Tiny Tower,’ an adorable micro game by NimbleBit, creators of 'Pocket Frogs' (one of the only games I have on my Android phone). The premise is pretty simple: players build a skyscraper and fill it with residential floors and shopping centers. The "real" goal is to make each "bitizen" (in-game characters) as happy as possible by giving them their dream job.
The player can see each bitizens dream job by checking their profiles, and the game also has a cute Facebook-esque feed, called a "bitbook," filled with the thoughts of each bitizen. This allows for a silly and unique way of knowing what kind of floor needs to be built next, and if your bitizens are satisfied or not with their jobs.
'Tiny Tower' utilizes a subtle micro-payment system that I think is very effective. Players earn coins by having residents and by selling the stock in the tower stores. The coins are used to build new floors and to continue stocking all of the stores. Players also earn 'tower bux' through a variety of means: building a new floor, receiving a tip from a bitizen using the elevator, or locating a bitizen when they receive a pizza delivery. The tower bux can be spent on speeding up the process of building a new floor, or for eliminating the time needed to stock an item in a store. Tower bux can be exchanged for in-game coins, and real money can be exchanged for tower bux. If a player is patient they'll earn all of the tower bux that they could need. However, for those not willing to wait there is the option to purchase tower bux for real money. I wish more free-to-play games would adopt this less intrusive system.
There's an excellent balance of rewards in the game, and little opportunity for a real sense of loss. Games like Farmville punish the player for not returning to their crops quickly enough. Wilted, useless ‘product’ creates a sense of actual wasted time, which should be a huge no-no for supposedly fun and recreational gaming. If I'm away from my Tower for too long, then the stores will run out of stock. Nothing wilts. Nothing disappears. Of course, I'm also not making in-game money, but that's a minor consequence that I can deal with.
The graphics are cute and refined while still being charmingly pixelated. The music is upbeat and kind of reminiscent of something one would hear in an elevator, which is appropriate considering the player is constantly moving bitizens up and down in the tower's elevator! 'Tiny Tower' has a great and simple interface that many people will quickly be familiar with: it is very similar to the modern smart phone user interface. Very clever of NimbleBit!
Some aspects of the game that I have yet to explore are Missions and Friends. Missions require having specific stores in your tower and then fulfilling orders such as one thousand cakes and five hundred suits in order to throw a giant party. Players who complete these missions will be rewarded with tower bux! As for Friends, well, I don't yet know anyone who plays 'Tiny Tower.' Does anyone out there want to be friends? :D
I give 'Tiny Tower' a whopping ten out of ten apples! The interface, music, and graphics combine into one pleasant sensory package, while the reward/loss system is very even and stable. I like having a game that I can pop into from time to time just to keep things going, or if I choose I can stick around and keep ferrying people up and down the elevator. It's available on iOS as well as Android, and it's FREE! Give it a try!