Tiny Tower

Tiny Tower Review for iPhone

On: iPhone

Tiny Tower lets you build a tiny tower and manage the businesses and bitizens that inhabit it.

Review Verdict Read Review
7Out of 10
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Tiny Tower screenshot
Tiny Tower screenshot

One of the joys of iOS gaming is that the proliferation of the devices and the low financial barriers ensure that the masses can easily get on board with whatever's currently doing the rounds. Tiny Tower, a new freemium offering from NimbleBit, is one of those games, and it's so now I actually wouldn't be surprised if its fleeting memory will be forever interwoven with the spirit of summer 2011.

It doesn't take long for you to realise there is nothing especially clever or inventive about Tiny Tower, however. You're in it to build a tower, and your strategic options are virtually nonexistent - this is way more Farmville than Sim Tower.

As the ruler of a delightfully pixelated tower, you shuffle your various citizens around with the aim of plopping them into a fairly decent job until you can shuffle them into their prescribed dream role, all the while acting as a glorified bellboy and giving visitors lifts to their desired floors.

Meanwhile you're also watching your money climb upwards so you can afford to elongate your tower with new floors, which can be either a residential complex (allowing you to home more residents) or a money-generating commodity from a range of food, services, recreational activities, retail stores, or a creative industry. You don't get to choose what kind of specific outlet you build, however, so if you design your new floor to sell food you could end up with a sandwich store, ice-cream shop, or a diner.

Shops can be staffed by up to three of your citizens, with more staff giving you access to fancier goods to peddle. You're also required to manage stock, spending currency on new items to sell when your current stock is depleted.

Each action takes time to complete, however - before long building a new floor will take over 10 real-time hours, and restocking valuable items in my current tower takes approximately three to four hours.

This is where the game becomes so freakishly addictive, with you spending ridiculous chunks of your time simply clicking little icons that stack up along the bottom of the screen and watching your empire grow ever so slightly. It's so gentle and undemanding that Tiny Tower is barely more than an automatic process, but there's an odd, gurn-inducing satisfaction that is derived from the painstaking lengthy process of watching your tiny domain blossoming into a slightly bigger empire.

It's also possible to view the towers of your Game Center friends in real-time, and I've spent way more time than I should jealously perusing the confines of my colleagues, chums, and rivals. Who am I kidding: they are all rivals.

There are two ways to expedite the constant need to grow. The first is with VIP guests, who arrive randomly and lop three hours off construction or restocking, as well as attracting more customers to one of the stores you've currently got open. The other method is far more nebulous: micro-transactions.

The game's second currency, Towerbux, can be earned slowly through regular play or bought in bulk for payments 59p, £2.99, or £17.99. Towerbux can be exchanged for money, or spent to 'rush' production and restocking of your floors. While it's possible to sit and patiently play the game for the rest of time, Nimblebit is clearly hoping you'll get tempted by the prospect of splashing out £2.99 and building a couple of floors without the two-day wait.

Tiny Tower's real question is about the scale of its economy, then, and whether you can stomach playing a game that becomes increasingly desperate in its desires to part you with chunks of your own money.

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User Comments

Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ 87Sarah

True - I see it more as a sideline slice of entertainment. With such very little interaction, should it be classed as a game? ;)

Had they made it more sim-style, adjust prices, rents, and manage citizens more fully, it might be passable as a game.
Posted 18:24 on 25 July 2011
87Sarah's Avatar


It's not a REAL game! ;)
Posted 18:21 on 25 July 2011
TomPearson's Avatar


I deleted it, after you realise there is really no point to it then you just wanna give up and burn it.
Posted 15:46 on 25 July 2011
87Sarah's Avatar


I played this for about a day before I got bored. It's just another "press command and wait a while" games that annoy me.
Posted 06:31 on 23 July 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar


Well, TT ate up the batteries on my London trip. ;) My Tower seems very... appropriate! Vegan Restaurant, Arcade, Game Shop, Comic Shop, Squash Club, Paintball Arena...

The update from the other day makes Tower Bucks more common within the core game - tips, fully stocking floors, etc - might be worthwhile noting the lesser emphasis on microtransactions, somewhat...
Posted 14:54 on 22 July 2011
87Sarah's Avatar


That's what annoys me about these games, they reel you in with their addictiveness and then decide to stop you while you're on a roll by trying to make you spend money to go any further.
When it gets to that point I feel like all my hard work and time put into the game has been wasted.
Posted 12:38 on 13 July 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar


Daaaaaaaamn yoooooooou, can't stop playing TT now! I had 7 floors, and was a bit 'bleh', but then I converted 50 Tower Bux into money, and doubled the size of the tower, and then *it* started. Simple enough to leave running while doing work/other things, but constantly drawing you back.

I won't spend any money, though. :p
Posted 10:11 on 13 July 2011


70% of my time using my £400 iPad 2 is now spent playing Tiny Tower, and the worst thing is I don't actually know why...
Posted 10:34 on 08 July 2011
draytone's Avatar


Anyone play Sim Tower?

Click for Image

You can see where they got their inspiration from, its pretty similar just updated.
Posted 10:23 on 08 July 2011
CheekyLee's Avatar


This game has seemingly taken over my fiancee's life. She now has TWENTY-SMEGGING-EIGHT floors, and the next one will cost £126,150 to build.

Posted 10:19 on 08 July 2011
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ Clockpunk

Joey put in £2.99 so he could overtake Pearson, but then got drunk and Pearson convinced him to delete all of his floors.
Posted 23:22 on 07 July 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar


Just downloaded this after reading all the tweets/hearing the podcast - looks pretty fun, but not quite the same level as the old Maxis Sim Tower game... A cross between the two (minus the micro transactions, of course) would be ideal! :D

Who in the vg.com office has spent the most money (if any) to date? ;)
Posted 23:01 on 07 July 2011

Game Stats

Tiny Tower
Out of 10
Tiny Tower
  • Nice graphics
  • Addictive
  • Barely any strategy
  • Micro-transactions
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 01/07/2011
Platform: iPhone
Developer: NimbleBit
Genre: Strategy
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 9,213 26
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