Pete Davison: You Have a Tiny Tower

Posted on July 1, 2011 by


Have you played Tiny Tower on iOS? This is one of those games that should be complete shite but actually ends up being strangely compelling.

Why should it be shite? Well, because it incorporates a ton of the features that make Facebook games particularly obnoxious — real-time waits for things to happen, monetization allowing you to “buy victory” in the game and no real strategy or depth.

Despite this, though, Tiny Tower manages to remain addictive, compelling and entertaining, even though your interaction with your little people is limited to restocking floors that have run out of arbitrary products, carrying people in your lift and occasionally playing an impromptu game of Where’s Wally when someone bursts in demanding to know where Tammy Walters is.

A big, big part of the game’s appeal is surely down to its excellent pixel-art graphics. I say “excellent”, but they’re actually pretty primitive, being deliberately lower-resolution than even the older iPhone screens. The graphics are reminiscent of the late 8-bit to early 16-bit era and have a lot of character about them. The little “bitizens” who populate your tower are all based on the same basic model, but the sheer number of hats, moustaches, crazy glasses and whatnot that they walk in wearing makes each and every one of them seem like an individual — particularly once you get some residents staying in your tower and you find out what their names are. Because then not only do you assign them to a job, but you can also spy on their Facebook… sorry, Bitbook page, filled with the sort of vapid inanity that your average Facebook user spouts on a daily basis along with occasional gameplay hints that you don’t really need. (The Mexican restaurant is closed? No shit!)

One of the more appealing things about the game that makes it less obnoxious (though probably less profitable) than anything Zynga has ever put together is the fact that the game’s premium currency of Tower Bux can be earned rather than just bought. Sure, you can pony up some real-life cash to get a wad of Tower Bux to make your life easier, but through actively playing the game and participating in its silly little Where’s Wally challenges you can get a reasonable income of them without having to pay a penny. This is a Good Thing.

Then there’s the fact that you can ogle your friends’ towers at any point, with them organised by order of size, so you can get all frustrated when the person you’ve been several floors ahead of suddenly leapfrogs you.

In short, it’s an excellent example of an iOS game. It’s simple, easy to play, friendly to both long and short play sessions and, best of all, free. So, err, buy it.

Posted in: Pete Davison