Price: Free, with in-app purchases
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
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NimbleBit returns to the freemium farming/building genre with Tiny Towers. This pixel-art-style game involves building a tower, floor by floor, and filling it with "bitizens" to fill the apartments that players build, and to work its shops. Bitizens work at various shops in the tower, and help to stock shops with more items, to help get coins, which can be spent on buying more stock for shops, and building new floors in the tower. Bitizens will wander into the tower's elevator as well, and it is up to the player to take them up to their desired floor, getting a bonus of coins and occasionally Towerbux, the game's second currency. These are used to speed up wait times, buy paint for redecorating floors, or even just be traded for coins. Occasionally, VIPs will come along, who will grant bonuses to restocking and construction times.
What NimbleBit does really well with Tiny Towers is to make the game fair with its in-app purchase currency. See, unlike some companies' games, the Towerbux, which can be purchased with real money, are handed out in-game randomly with the completion of tasks. These tasks occur at a rate that makes sure that Towerbux are often in players' hands, but not enough to where the thought of spending money to pay for more Towerbux won't cross the mind at some point. After all, why wait for a new floor to be built? The element of delivering bitizens to different floors also rewards players for actually keeping the app open and interacting with it, instead of just leaving to wait for units to restock. The push notifications work perfectly for when players leave the app and want to be notified of when their supplies are ready. The pixel art style of the game is wonderful, and the various bitizens of Tiny Tower exude a certain charm all their own.
The game does do some things different from other freemium-type games that involve resource management and building, but at the core it is the same type of game. The question hit me at one point as to why I was continuing to play this game, and what my goal in playing it was. Why do I want a bigger tower? Why do I want to keep pursuing this game's goal? The game didn't get boring while playing it, but I did have to ask myself what my goal was in continuing to play. This is a problem that affects a lot of this genre, and the fact that it is more interactive and features great pixel art will keep me hooked; not to mention, I really want to build a bigger tower than 148Apps' founder and benevolent overlord, Jeff Scott. Someday, Jeff...someday. But this kind of meta-gaming element is the strongest attraction to the game, rather than any kind of concrete goal.
NimbleBit seems to have a better hold on how to make the freemium genre more fair and interactive than other farming and building games. The game has a great charm to it, with plenty of humor to boot. Fans of 'farming' games will definitely want to check this out.