Review by Metaright

"A fun freemium game that isn't 'pay to win'"

Tiny Tower is developed by Nimblebit, the same people who created the smash-hit Pocket Frogs. They specialize in “freemium” games- game that cost nothing to download but have options to purchase items that help you in-game. Nimblebit, thankfully, has a reputation for using this layout to the good of the players. The term “pay to win” is used to describe freemium games that are nearly unwinnable unless you buy the special items.

And now, for the review.

In Tiny Tower, you are put in charge of a fresh new tower complex. You start with just a lobby, but by going through the game's short tutorial, you are given an apartment floor, which houses the little people in the game, called Bitizens. While the tutorial is enough to get you started, it doesn't fill you in on some of the most basic things in the game- at the start, you'll be left wondering what everything means and how the game works.

The most important part of any game is the gameplay. Tiny Tower centers around waiting- waiting for new floors to be built, waiting for items that your Bitizens buy to restock, and waiting for said items to be sold for money, which I'll get to later. At first, when you only have a small number of floors, the game doesn't offer much to do besides using the tower's elevator to take Bitizens to a certain floor. Once you start having more floors and the game picks up speed, however, Tiny Tower shines.

Nevertheless, if waiting for things to happen to initiate more waiting doesn't sound appealing, you have to bear with me- it sounds worse than watching paint dry, but it really is a fun game.

While waiting, there are little features such as Bitbook (addressed below) to keep your attention, and the ability to ferry up Bitizens in your elevator, earning coins or Tower Bux (addressed below). Lifting Bitizens with the elevator is often not enough to keep attention, and, as intended, there's often the desire to close the game to let it run in the background while you wait for the important things to happen.

There are two currencies in the game. Gold coins (usually referred to as just “money”) that purchase new floors, restock items, etc., and Tower Bux. Tower Bux can be bought with real money and speed up game functions; you can instantly restock or build a floor, instantly summon a new Bitizen to one of your apartments, trade them for coins, or even buy a faster elevator to bring Bitizens to their floors faster.

As said, the balance of Tiny Tower doesn't require you purchase Tower Bux, as plenty can be gotten in-game through various methods and quite easily. There are, however, a great many uses for Tower Bux, so you will probably be tempted to purchase some, available in dollar, five dollar, and thirty dollar bundles. That said, Tiny Tower is not a game that will be finished in a day, week, month, or at all. Having no clear finishing point, there is no definitive goal of the game, so Tiny Tower relies on your personal goals to move forward. Do you want to get as many floors as possible? Do you want to make as much money as possible? Tiny Tower leaves it to you, so if you don't like open, play-forever games, then Tiny Tower might not be for you.

The “difficulty” curve in Tiny Tower turn into a drag for some players; as you get more floors, buying more become more expensive, potentially taking quite a long time to become available without purchasing Tower Bux.

Tiny Tower holds a surprising amount of strategy under its cute appearance; where you place your floors, how many Bitizens you house, and how you stock your floors can all make a fun challenge to do effectively, while being simple and easy enough for everybody to do.

Graphically, Tiny Tower does well. Individual Bitizens have their own little costumes and clothing combinations (changeable through Tower Bux), and seeing them walk around your tower is quite rewarding once your Bitizens are numerous. The tiny apartments and shops are amazing in how much detail they hold, and are quite pretty. That said, the graphics won't “wow” you, and Tiny Tower might be a no-go if you don't appreciate pixel-centric graphics.

The music in Tiny Tower is quite pleasant to the ear, humorously consisting of elevator music, which fits the theme of the game quite nicely. However, the music might begin to bore you after a time, as the music is not too long and loops constantly, which shouldn't detract from the game at all.

As for individual sounds, each floor type (apartment, restaurant, etc.) has its own little sound effect, such as bells and cash registers. These sounds, unlike the music, quickly become an aggravation, as they are all high-pitched and you will potentially be hearing them quite often.

Unfortunately, at time of writing there is no option to turn the sounds/music off independently, so they are currently a package-deal.

Along with the main gameplay of Tiny Tower, the game has neat little features to spice up those slow moments. There are statistics, which show the demand for what kind of floor there is, how many of each floor type you have, and a constantly updating number that indicates your sales per minute. The statistics are disappointing, but only because they leave you wanting more like them.

Other small features include Gamecenter achievements, a comparison of your tower to your Gamecenter friends', a “bank” that lets you exchange Bux for coins, and a fan-favorite feature, Bitbook; you can peek into the Bitizen equivalent of Facebook and see what they're thinking, about their friends, the tower, or life in general. Bitbook is very funny at times, but quickly, the fact that there are a limited number of entries shows; you find Bitizens repeating other Bitizens, which detracts greatly fro the experience. Luckily, Nimblebit has said that adding more Bitbook entries is coming in a later update.

For all the good that Tiny Tower offers, there is inevitably some bad; occasionally, VIPs will enter your tower. VIPs are special Bitizens that help you out greatly, by doing things like reducing construction/restocking time, instantly selling you out of an item (and giving you the gain), and temporarily attracting tons of customers. Unfortunately, once you begin taking a VIP to the floor you want them to use, you cannot do anything else in the main game, so if you want to check your current stock or begin constructing a new floor, you have to do that first. Otherwise, the VIP will be wasted or used on something undesirable, which feels frustrating; if you aren't ready to use them but don't want to waste them, taking Bitizens up using the elevator comes to a standstill, and you need to wait a potentially long while to use them.

Overall, I would suggest giving Tiny Tower a try. While many would consider it more of a distraction than an actual game, at times the game may such hours out of you. That said, don't expect this game to keep your attention for hours all the time, and if you don't like it, then it's at no cost to you.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/14/11

Game Release: Tiny Tower (US, 06/23/11)

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