Most of us here have been anticipating NimbleBit's Tiny Tower [Free] since the developers first announced it. Their last take on the freemium model was the extremely successful Pocket Frogs [Free], a game that I still pull out a few times a week.

So the big day has come - does Tiny Tower live up to the hype? Yes, with one suitably tiny caveat: this isn't the second coming of Sim Tower. Let's just get that out of the way up front, because the early screenshots gave some people that impression. That aside, yes, Tiny Tower is a fantastic, adorable successor to the Pocket Frog empire and it's just as hard to put down.

Here's how it works. Upon starting the game, you're greeted by a fresh new tower and a simple lobby. Working through the tutorial, you build your first residential floor and your first production floor, move in your first Bitizen and give them a job. The Bitizen gets to work creating items to sell, bringing in coins. Spend those coins on building more floors and eventually your tower will reach up into the sky.

Each floor has three items to stock, and each one is on a different timer. When an item's stock sells out, its your job to tell your Bitizens to order more, a task that takes anywhere from a minute to a few hours depending on the item. When that timer fills up, you also need to order them to put the item up for sale again. When you're overseeing a few production floors, this means checking in occasionally. When you've got a 40 story tower, on the other hand, this production cycle will quickly take over your life—if you let it.

The game uses local notifications to let you know when the first item is available to restock after closing the app. This is a great way to stay on top of your towers' needs early on, but with enough production floors it might just make you crazy. I turned notifications off pretty quickly, and discovered something cool—unlike most of these "appointment gaming" types, I can peek into my tower at any time and find something to do. There's always something ready to stock, or someone waiting to ride the elevator. So Tiny Tower fits perfectly into any little gaps of time you have for it. And with no spoilage mechanic, the only thing to lose by ignoring it is the coins you could have been earning in the meantime.

If this all sounds like a lot of managing timers and pushing buttons, you'll be happy to know there's a bit more to it. The Bitizens are really the heart and soul of Tiny Tower. Their comings and goings will occupy a lot of your attention. For starters, they each have their own set of talents. There are five categories of production floor, and individual Bitizens are stronger working at some and weaker at others. They also have their own little dreams. Bitizens working in their dream jobs are better than their counterparts, and you get a tidy bonus for putting them there. Want to see what they're thinking? Hit up Bitbook, a virtual social network for your virtual workers that's filled with quips and little hints.

You're also in control of their literal comings and goings, because you control your tower's elevator. Ferrying Bitizens to their destination nets you tips, both in coins and Bux, the game's premium currency. Occasionally, VIPs show up to add a bit of strategy to the game. They have special abilities, and where you drop them off can make a big difference to your production.

For the creative types, you can customize your tower to the nines. You can't pick which floors are built, just which categories you're creating, but you can move your floors around and paint them to match any color scheme you can imagine. You can also dress up your Bitizens with a palette and outfit randomizer. It took a bit of persistence, but I've got all my employees dressed smartly in per-floor uniforms. The adorable pixel art makes this extra satisfying.

The premium aspects of the game are more than fair. You can buy Tower Bux with real money, but you can also earn them as tips or as bonuses for fully stocking a production floor. A Where's Waldo-style mini-game also awards them. You can exchange them for coins or as timesavers to build a floor faster, finish stocking it, upgrade your elevator or move in a Bitizen. If you're really keen to get ahead, purchasing Bux will help. But if you just play regularly you'll always have lots to do and plenty of chances to expand. Nothing is locked out for players who don't want to pay.

Other than a nitpick or two (it would be nice to toggle the elevator-style music off and keep the sound on, for instance), my only real concern is the lack of social integration. These games are always better with friends (many of whom you can find in our forums), but the only thing you can really do with your buddies in Tiny Tower is compete with them on the Game Center leaderboard and for achievements, and look at their towers. Maybe we'll see more social options in the future, like something to exchange with friends or something to do in their towers.

But enough talk. Tiny Tower is another great, free game from the guys at NimbleBit, and you should definitely check it out. Just try not to get too caught up in the lives of your little Bitizens - it's important to put the game down once in a while.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I love my friends and the folks here at TA are the greatest, but I won't miss any social options. I realize it's 2011, but I had just as much fun before the words "social" and "Facebook" were incorporated into ever flipping form of entertainment. Great review btw --  time to DL this baby.

    • Federico Astica

      Amen. I hate that nowadays everything has to be "social" or "multiplayer" to be considered fun. My best gaming memories are from single player experiencies.

      • anonymous

        This particular game... deserved to be social from the start, at least the ability to trade with coins

      • jayzed

        Feel free to add me anyone on Game Center if you are an active player.

        my username is jayzed86

      • jayzed

        ok no more friend requests, i'm done with the game.

    • Pixelartlover

      glad to see pixel art still can suceed on the appstore

  • shenando

    That's strange, Tiny Tower isn't available in Singapore yet.

  • Aweszome

    I will be downloading this along with 1bit ninja and Sonic & Sega Racers or whatever its called tonight at 11!

  • Anonymous

    Great review, great game... pretty good vibes all round.

  • Federico Astica

    I'm on my PC, with my iPod touch and Tiny Tower, and can't stop waiting for every chime to use the elevator, hoping to get a  V.I.P. (just get the one to restock while writing this... yay!) Great game!!!!

  • NYCFreakazoid

    This doesn't seem to work with my iPod Touch 2G. It says it's incompatible. I downloaded it on my PC first to try and transfer it over afterwards. I'm just happy it wasn't a paid app or I would be pissed since iTunes doesn't say anywhere that it wouldn't work. Under requirements it would seem that my iPod Touch should work fine.

    • Denis Ginzburg

      It works perfectly on my iPod Touch 2G

      • NYCFreakazoid

        Apparently it just doesn't want to play nice with my iPod Touch 2G that's been jailbroken. I got it to install in safe mode, but now whenever I try to sync with iTunes it says it can't authorize Tiny Tower. The only way to get it to work is to sync my Touch thru safe mode. I'm really digging this game, but I don't think I want to keep switching safe mode on and off when I sync/charge and I don't want to un-jailbreak my Touch. I hope they plan on "fixing" this soon.

  • Jaocb_laird17

    add that name in game centre!
    visit my tower and become my neighbour

  • shenando

    add me on gamecenter

  • John Usher

    I'm loving this game so far and the no spoilage has to be the best feature of any management game.

  • Donald Williams

    you can get infinite money by manually setting your device clock.  make sure you turn off notifications in the in-game settings.

    • Pixelgit

      Tell me again the point doing that "cheat"? Kind of defeats the object of the game.

      • Donald Williams

        Moral high ground is so strong!

      • Donald Williams

        Moral high ground is so strong!

    • Ne

      I tried. If you fast forward too much time like a month, the app will crush. However, you can try to navigate the time. But still its hard to get what you need.

  • Shamu

    add me on game centre please i have no friends on game centre:( please add:  ju5

  • Robert Edvardsson

    How do I add a friend from Game Center? They don't seem to be added automatically.. or?

    • Fulliautomatox

      youll have to do it from the game center app, those friends who play tiny tower will show up within the app

      PS, add me guiz, im fulliautomatox

  • Mike

    This is my new favorite game. I'm addicted.

  • Anonymous

    I don't really like this game.

    I hate the retro graphics, and I was hoping it would be more similar to a tycoon type game.

  • Greg

    It is a great game. Since it's not a FPS or MMORPG I do not really care what type of graphics it has. I personally think retro fits it well.
    Only one con: Crashes after I try to re-open it after using another program/game.

  • asdfcds

    i like this game and i have been waiting since they announced it a while ago

    add me - ljlp360

  • Hakkafighter

    Hey guys, feel free to add me on game center...Hakkafighter (name) or

  • 132

    add me to GC Lebrooo

  • Dora

    I gotta say, I'm kind of disappointed in this. It's not so much a game as it is the "webtoy" equivalent of an extremely needy (and stupid) bunch of seamonkeys... in apartments. While it's cuter than what should legally be allowed, there just isn't enough to it. It's basically Farmville on your iOS, only instead of waiting for your crops to grow you're waiting for soda to be delivered. If you're not delivering nameless people to random floors, which is about as exciting as watching your hard drive defragment, you're just waiting for timers to tick down so you can... make other timers tick down. The messages can be amusing, but that isn't enough to support an entire game.

    I wouldn't mind so much if they were better able to take care of themselves; being able to set a shop to automatically restock if funds are available would really help eliminate a lot of the annoying tedium. And, hey, why should I have to tell you to PUT THE PRODUCT YOU NEED ON THE SHELVES WHEN IT GETS THERE? It just feels like it's there to artificially pad the gameplay, and the randomly chosen shops lost their appeal when I realised that all they are is something else I have to babysit. 

    Tiny Tower is something that would have been better suited to an interactive screensaver than a game, because as a game, it... isn't. It really needs MORE. Virtual Villagers offered the same basic concept, but with the inclusion of skills, collectibles, and people you could train to become better at their jobs, it gave a better sense of progression and accomplishment. Tiny Tower is just sort of "there", and after less than a day I'm already set to uninstall it. It's cute and I'm sure it has its audience... but that ain't me.

    • Rasa

      Wow,I loved this game more than any other money sucking social apps out there. It's costs nothing to play and nothing to maintain,CHILL. The way you criticise it, I'm sure you can make better games yeah?

      • Charles Albert

        WOW, the "do it better" coin! You must be, what, 10 years old?

  • Anonymous

    add me to GameCenter albertojauregui

  • Anonymous

    Just an addition to the post here. Nissa mentioned that she'd like to disable the elevator music while maintaining the sound effects ...

    If you start music from outside the app (TuneIn, iPod or Modizer) and then launch Tiny Tower, the SFX will be played overtop of your music instead of the elevator.

    I personally don't mind the default music (though I would agree a couple different tracks would be nice), so hopefully this helps.

    ALSO... this game way too much reminds me of Jones in the Fast Lane and I would LOVE for an iPad port of that game.

  • 0ttilie

    How do you add friends on Tiny Tower?!

  • viskjall121

    i have another problem: upon exiting the app, my progress doesnt save properly! this has happened 3 times today, lost hours of gameplay 🙁 has anyone encountered the same problem?

  • Charles Albert

    Just another non-game (you can't lose, therefore, you have no challenges) with those rip-off money-cash systems, just like Facebook games. Utterly frustrating. You can't play for five minutes straight without having to exit the game to only come back hours later to have more money (your money grows when you're out of the game too). It's not a Tycoon, it's a freaking Facebook lame game. Avoid it.

  • anon

    I like how the bux are easily earned! Not like other games, which they want people to purchase these bux

  • Dave Chua

    It starts out okay but I don't think it scales well. The micromanaging increases with each level, and telling those workers to stock the shelves when items are ready is irritating. Some control over the type of shop beyond from the five categories would have been good, and a good chance for Nimblebit to get some real currency.

  • Weirdfires

    btw, when i leave the game and come back after an hour or so, my shop is closed even if i have stock in it. is there anyway to reopen the shop without restocking?

    • Nathan7nathan

      no there anit m8

  • jayzed

    how the hell do you turn off that push notification or just the "ding" sound??? i tried turning off push notification all together, but i still get it from tiny towers! 

    • sid

      try turning it off from within the app's settings.

      • jayzed

        thanks, not sure how i missed that. that was dumb.

    • Nathan7nathan

      is games is well ace

  • sid

    All the Geeks out there, try using Hungarian Algorithm to assign jobs to the Bitizens:p
    I'm using this awesome code from github: git://

  • sad

    mine wont goes to the menu screen than it goes back to my app page 🙁

  • sacphilip

    Hey the new update works for me! I knew this would be awesome! add me plz i have no friends:( 'sachinphil'. Thanks!

    • Treacletops

      I downloaded the update last night now when
      I go to play tiny tower nothing happens

  • Melissa_whitmire

    add me meldawna

  • Kipopoki

    add me  !  thearielmermaid

  • CheetahDeals Blog

    I kind of dont like playing this game... but I can't stop. Is this what Farmville is like?

  • Shinya_jo

    please add me, my username: snowieng

    • Gail

      Does not work. Is this for sure game center name? If not plz tell me so i can add u. Btw i am StarBurst7172 to any1 who wants 2 add me.

  • Guest

    um i'm not sure how to get different shops? i see my friends and they have sushi bars and bike shops so i'm wondering how to get that

  • Blocker

    shame it ain't on andriod 🙁

  • Jdn

    Feel free to add me. 🙂 user: jeidyng

  • Branden Hines

    I have 144,533,856 coins and 21,313 bux, 254 bitzens, and 100 floors 😛

  • Gail

    I love this game. Add me StarBurst7172 any1???? I am also in Dragonvale..

Tiny Tower - Free City Building Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 5