We've been collecting coins for a long time—well before the days when they did much of anything, we've been running and jumping and stuffing those shiny gold things in our pockets, rewarding ourselves with their happy little collection noises.
In Treasure Tower Sprint [$0.99] collecting coins is the game. It's not just a tertiary goal, one that adds up to unlocks or extra lives—it's the overriding goal. If you want to move forward, you must gather all the wealth. That gets you far enough to do it over again, this time with more danger. There's a question of whether it's a good idea to risk your life in a series of ever-more deadly towers just to amass wealth, but eh. There are coins to collect, and that's what really matters.
The set up is straight out of the classics. You're a not at all Aladdin-esque fellow looking for the genie that will make your dreams of wealth come true. He's at the top of a tower, so you make your way up there.
Each floor of the tower is covered with coins. Only when you've picked up each and every one of them do the stairs to the next storey appear, so you'll need to get in there and meticulously collect. The levels are isometric; the controls make due with dragging or tapping as you prefer.
Treasure Tower Sprint is a cakewalk at first, and for far too long. It's not much more than a chore to traverse its floor and pick up all the coins, and it's such a self-perpetuating activity. Pick up the coins in one level to move to the next, spend the coins on upgrades so you can get to the next upgrade more easily. Yawn.
Somewhere near its midway point, this changes. The levels grow, and they fill up with switches and dead ends and dangerous spots. You fight enemies with names like IKEA furniture (I swear I've built a BADR before), but they're hardly stationary—controlling them and paying attention to their paths becomes a big part of the game.
Power-ups, which start as an oddity you can almost always avoid, are suddenly precious resources. That one jar that gives a few seconds of invulnerability will almost definitely make the difference between prancing through the level picking up coins and dying torn apart by monsters in a corner somewhere. Opening a locked chest goes from an obvious call to a choice worth weighing—if it's going to draw death down on you—and it might—maybe the extra coins are worth skipping?
At the same time, the coin economy starts getting a little bit sketchy. You can pump your coins into upgrades, picking up improvements to your health pool, damage, armor and lockpicking. When things get crazy, it starts to seem like maybe everything would be just a bit more possible with that coin doubler, those extra purchases.
Still, this is when the game really shines. Running around for coins is cool and all, but Treasure Tower Sprint eventually goes a different route. It makes you work for them, think for them. Fight for them, even. If it had that much faith in our lust for loot from the start, it could be a mighty game. As it is, it glimmers, but it isn't always gold.
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