Developer: InfiniGames Inc
Price: FREE
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

There’s no way around it; Mole Kingdom could easily be thought of as an upside-down Tiny Tower. That is, it could at first glance. Possible even within the first few minutes of play. However, it soon becomes apparent that it doesn’t have much in common with the little pixelated highrise management sim at all. Save the vertical nature of progression and the emphasis on putting a room of some sort on each “floor,” of course. But while it does indeed offer up a different experience, said experience isn’t exactly mind-blowing. Or even all that fun.

Starting with a single throne room will soon expand their kingdom by building domiciles, bringing in moles to live in them, and creating farms and the like for these subjects to work in. Completing a job (farming crops, etc) earns cash and experience. The cash is needed to build more rooms, start more jobs and entice new moles, while experience unlocks new structures and earns gems (think freemium cash). Tapping on the throne room will display the current objective, such as harvesting three blackberries, and completing these special projects will net considerably more experience than simple tasks.

Mole Kingdom offers a decent amount of options for players looking to personalize their tower burrow. A number of themes are available, and each individual mole can be leveled up to boost their performance. Room construction is also left to the player’s discretion. Assuming they’re of a high enough level they can choose to build whatever they like, be it a fruit farm, a lab, or something altogether different. It’s an interesting hybrid of freemium themes, but it all kind of grinds to a halt rather quickly.

What Mole Kingdom doesn’t quite get is the pacing. Progress is incredibly slow to start, and there’s practically nothing to do aside from ogle the tiny subterranean mammals (they don’t do much) and listen to the ambient chirping of the birds (how do they hear them underground?). So what’s a player to do? Either sit there staring at the screen for several minutes, or start playing something else. After checking back in a while later and starting a new set of tasks, it’s back to options A or B. And the process keeps going. The biggest cause of this cycle of boredom that I can pick out is the rather sad rate at which money is earned. Saving up a mere 500 coins to build a fruit farm requires a lot of in-and-out task management, and it’s not all that compelling to begin with.

Mole Kingdom has some interesting ideas, but the implementation needs lots of work. Perhaps letting players do more than one task per floor would speed things along? Or maybe housing two (or even three!!) moles per apartment? Regardless, it’s okay but there are much more interesting (and entertaining) options out there.

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