Donald Trump may like this game, at least until it asks for money.
The flavor of the month is a curious phenomenon in the mobile gaming world, where titles can become overnight sensations for reasons that defy rational thought. The latest? Tiny Tower.
Apart from the delightful pixelart visual style, there's nothing particularly enjoyable or interesting about Nimblebit's 'freemium' effort. You build a tower, floor by floor, with the 'goal' simply to see how high you can build.
Doing so involves creating apartments and new businesses on each floor, and then employing the residents to staff said enterprises. From there, you have to try and earn money by stocking products, and habitually keep an eye on stock levels.
But it's here where the game turns into a curiously addictive little terror. Despite the fact that you spend most of your time restocking, endlessly ferrying people up in the elevator, and making sure that each 'Bitizen' is employed in their appropriate field, you can literally lose hours to the stupid game. After a while, you feel a bit like a monkey pressing a sequence of buttons for the next chocolate drop.
And yet you come back for more, and dutifully build new floors, open new businesses, continually restock each floor, and repeat the brainless process so that you can ultimately....build even more floors. There is no real payback, just a dose of Billy Idol. More more more.
Relatively quickly, your ambitions tend to literally hit a ceiling, and that's where the sneaky freemium model comes in.
Although you can theoretically keep playing for free until the end of time, by the time you're hooked, you're likely to want to invest 'Tower Bux' in speeding up the restocking and building process. If you don't, it takes several real-time hours to achieve anything worthwhile, during which time your stocks will run down if you've switched the game off to go and do something more interesting.
You could just short-cut the process and buy 100 Tower Bux for $4.99, but even that won't get you far enough into the game to make it worthwhile. If a non-crippled paid for version of the game existed, Tiny Tower would be a delightful, brain-optional timesink, but as it is, it reminds me of all the reasons I despise micro transactions and the apocalyptic horse they rode in on.
Used under license from Eurogamer.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
What's Hot: Strangely addictive, cool retro style graphics.
What's Not: No real reward for playing, you need to spend lots of money to speed things along.