APP OF THE DAY: Tiny Tower review (Android)
We feel that the success of mobile gaming revolves around simplicity of concept and innovation, rather than out and out visuals and blockbuster action. We've seen a number of such titles on Android, but it's always nice when one crosses over from the iPhone to land on your 'droid.
Today we're looking at one of the great successes on the iPhone, which has made such a leap, bringing another addictive game to your Android handset.
- Android Market
Let's face it, gaming has had some huge successes with simulations where you have to manage people and resources. For us this all started with Sim City and that's a good point of reference for Tiny Tower, not only because of the vintage graphics.
Tiny Tower sees you building, populating and running a tower. It works so well on a smartphone because of the simple linear nature of building a tower - a practical approach to avoiding constant moving around a map.
You start the game in tutorial mode, which guides you through getting started. Basically you have to build floors in your tower and then assign them to a category of use. In this way you'll end up building residential floors, retail floors, entertainment floors and so on.
Of course none of this works without people. Building residential floors provides space for people to live, whilst creating other types of floor provides those people, or Bitizens as they are known, with jobs.
As with all these sim games, some Bitizens will be better suited to some jobs than others and matching the right person to the job is one of the keys to making people happy and productive.
There are various management tasks, which basically revolve around maintaining stock for your stores, be that books for the bookshop or pictures for the Photo Studio. Stocking your stores is your avenue to income, which then drives the possibility to build your tower further.
Floors get more expensive as you go up and this puts a natural constraint on the pace at which the game can progress. Stocking the various stores also takes time (real time values are given). Some items are fast and cheap, some take much longer but you get more money for selling them.
But the bigger your tower gets, the more floors you have to manage, so you'll find yourself moving from floor to floor updating things or examining your staffing needs. With each Bitizen having various skills, you can match them to the jobs available in the tower. In some cases that means you might turn into a human resources manager, moving people to different jobs.
You'll also find that some Bitizens have no redeeming qualities and no real skills. In this case you can evict them from your tower and wait for a better quality of person to move it. Put your equality qualms to one side, it's time to play dictator.
You also have a stream of Bitizens, VIPs and special requests cropping up, which adds variety, with opportunities to increase sales from a shop or speed up construction.
Sitting behind the micro economy are two types of currency. The first is straight coins, which you use to buy things, from floors to stock, the second is Bux, which are used for special jobs, like speeding up building or manufacture.
Tiny Tower hasn't been on Android long, so we haven't made it to the sorts of heady heights that some iPhone players will have done, but you can access the achievements in the menu which gives you an idea of just how crazy Tiny Tower will get.
The thing that's really addictive about Tiny Tower is that you'll step away from it and when you dive back in you'll find you have cash, jobs to do and things to sort out. It becomes a constant companion, needy of attention, always there waiting for you to come back and sort things out.
It might be early days, but we're already hooked.