Going underground with Glu Games' new tower game.
If you'd told us yesterday that today we'd be recommending a tower-building game to take the place of Tiny Tower we'd have suggested you have a lie down. Madness, we'd be thinking: Tiny Tower was barely a game, and far more of a way to extract your hard-earned money. We were burned horribly the first time around, and we won't be burned again.
Developer Glu Games has taken a slightly different approach to their new title Lil' Kingdoms though. Instead of staring blankly at the screen, waiting for your next instruction and wondering what on earth the point of playing the game is, Lil Kingdoms makes things considerably more interactive.
The princess who sits atop your magnificent castle will occasionally give you collection quests , requiring you to plunge into the depths of the castle in order to collect a nice new water-feature in one example. There's generosity in the supply of wizards who come knocking at your door in order to travel to a shop floor and provide an instant restock. Burly dwarves will occasionally show up to inquire whether they might travel to one of your levels under construction in order to finish the job off for you. Be our guest!
Tapping on the thought bubbles that occasionally appear above your workers and residents rewards you with both a genuinely amusing quip about the castle, as well as a nice chunk of change to put towards your next construction project. Rarely, these conversations might even reward you with one of the blue gems that are used to speed up the stocking of shops, as well as the construction of new areas.
Graphically it's considerably more advanced than Tiny Towers, and while that game may have drawn a large amount of its charm from its pixel art presentation, we can't deny that the beautiful 3D environments and characters in Lil' Kingdom bring some much needed life to the tower-building genre. It's far easier to get involved with these characters when they're rendered a little larger, and a lot more endearing.
There are of course fundamental similarities between the two games. The objectives are identical and the core mechanics are very familiar: find the right residents, get them in their most desired job, and maintain a steady balance between entertainment venues, accommodation, bakeries and so on. You can also take the short-cut to enhancing your kingdom by dipping into the real world currency shop where all the gold and gems you could possibly want are waiting to be snatched up.
And yet he we are. It's Friday, and against all odds we're recommending that you download another tower game that will absorb all of your free time, as well as stare gleefully at your wallet. And yet so far we've managed to restrain ourselves and gain a huge amount of entertainment from the free download alone. If you think you can be strong enough to resist the pull of the purchase, we think you'll have just as much fun as we did with Lil' Kingdom.
What's Hot: Beautiful graphics, engaging characters and a welcome breath of fresh air for the tower-building genre.
What's Not: Gameplay-wise it's basically Tiny Tower, but it's also much less demanding on your wallet.