Tiny Tower: A Skyscraper in Your Pocket

For the last week, I’ve been building floors and operating an elevator for a tower that houses tiny little people. No, I haven’t taken a second job as a contractor; I’ve been playing Mobage’s cute (and addictive) game: Tiny Tower. Let me explain why, after seven days play, I’m still not bored.

What is Tiny Tower?

Tiny Tower was originally released on the iOS platform several months ago. Its addictive nature meant that it soared up the charts and stayed there for several months – in fact it’s still there today. The developers, Mobage, recently ported the game to Android. They describe it as “beta” and “possibly unstable”, but it’s still every bit as great as its iOS counterpart.

Mobage's banner for Tiny Tower

The goal in Tiny Tower is to build the biggest tower possible. It is impossible to finish the game as there is no limit to the amount of floors that you can build.  You build floors for your “Bitizens” – the cute little pixelated people that take up residence in your building. These people who are also responsible for taking advantage of the other types of floors you create, such as food courts. The aim of the game is to employ your residents in your stores and services and build up a fortune, which can then be spent on adding more floors to your tower.

Interface

Games with pixelated “retro” interfaces such as Minecraft and Game Dev Story have become very popular recently. Tiny Tower carries on this trend and does a great job with it! From the moment you start the game you are presented with the adorable pixel interface. Your towers, Bitizens and even the title screen adapt this great interface. This gives the game an immersive feel and almost eliminates the learning curve.

Your Bitizens become instantly recognisable after a week or so of playing the game because of the great design. You will notice that you begin to care deeply about where each of your Bitizens work and how their happiness meter is looking. The same applies to your floors and you’ll constantly be trying to make sure that even the coat of paint on the walls remains consistent with the rest of your tower.

The title screen and some Bitizens

Overall the interface can immediately get you hooked – and because it’s so well designed, you can jump straight into the game and begin managing your tower without having to learn any tricks.

Elements

The first element of Tiny Tower’s gameplay is gaining money. Money is gained in two ways: rent (paid in coins from your Bitizens) and sales (from your shops). Every time you re-stock your shop (which I will take an in-depth look at later in the article) your Bitizens will immediately flock to it and begin to purchase goods from it. It can take from twenty minutes to two hours for you to sell off your stock. But rather than just having the one currency in the game, the developers have implemented a second type of currency: “Tower Bux”.

Tower Bux  are used for completely different purposes than coins. Bux can be used to move residents in to the building immediately, or to completely restock a floor in a matter of seconds. In simple terms, coins are used to expand your tower and Bux is used to eliminate waiting times. A lot of people recoil in disgust when they hear the word in-game cash, but luckily Tiny Tower doesn’t make the Bux a necessity and even though you can buy it, you will still gain lots of it from completing missions.

You are told the amount of coins made every time you re-open Tiny Tower

The second element is building floors and apartments. When you gain coins these are meant to be spend on either restocking or building a new floor. New floors are great as that is how the majority of your coins can be gained from. When you build a new floor you can choose from six different floor types: Creative, Food, Recreation, Retail, Service and Residential. Five out of these are all commercial which basically means that they need to be restocked. Residential floors are apartments where your Bitizens will live.

Saving up for a new floor can take a while, but it's always worth it!

The next element of gameplay is stocking and restocking to meet the game’s goals. Every time you build a new floor you will need to hire employees. The more employees that are hired the more sophisticated stock you can buy and (in some cases) the more profit you will make. Restocking involves tapping on a floor and selecting the stock that you would like to supply.

For example, I have a floor called Game Shop. When I try and restock the floor I can chose to stock one of three categories: Used Games, Controllers and Game Systems. Each of these items costs a various amount to supply and the amount of profit you gain from each one also varies. When I chose one I want to stock I than have to wait a specific amount of time; if I was to select “Controller” I would have to wait 40 minutes to stock it, whereas if I selected Used Game I would only have to wait 20 minutes. Basically, the amount of time you have to wait for a product to restock is relative to the amount of profit you will probably make from stocking it.

My Game Store, in which I currently have consoles stocked in

The next element is employment. Every time that someone new moves in to your tower it is important that you assign them a job. You can assign them a job in any of your commercial floors, and they will automatically work there. It is important to note that your Bitizens’ happiness is determined by the job they receive. Each Bitizen has a dream job and their dream jobs can be found by selecting “Menu” and then “Bitizens.” For example, one of my Bitizens, Regina George, has a dream job of working in a Game Store. Currently I have her employed in my Sushi Shop. Because of this she is not happy, but if I assign her a new job in the Game Shop her happiness instantly increases and I may even receive some Bux.

My Bitizens' dream jobs, and Bitbook, which is where Bitizens post their thoughts.

The final element of gameplay is the elevator. When you build a new floor, be it residential or commerical, you will notice that Bitizens that do not necessarily live in your tower will come to visit. You msut transport them to their required floor using your elevator. A little red icon will flash in the corner of your screen when somebody requests to use the elevator and it is than up to you to use the arrows to get him to the right floor. You can spend your Bux on upgrading your elevator to make it faster if you wish. This becomes a necessary thing to do if your Tower becomes too big, as the basic elevator will take at least 3 minutes to get to the top of 70 floored tower!

The elevator attention icon and the upgrade screen.

Verdict

Overall Tiny Tower is an extremely addictive game for Android that wil quickly make you become addicted and enticed into the world of serving your Bitizens’ every need. It has fabulous interface and addictive gameplay, though it can lag on some older generation phones.


Summary

An excellent game with an interface so adorable you'd have to be a robot for it not to entice you!

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