Short Circuit Studio is up-sizing their scope. No longer content to dwell in the realms of the Teeny Tiny, the developer has now moved up a full grade to merely Tiny. Tiny Connections (Free), that is. Its previous game, Teeny Tiny Town, was a lovely little update to a well-established older mobile game with a few wrinkles of its own. In a sense, that is also what Tiny Connections is, but it ventures further out conceptually from the games it was seemingly inspired by. And hey, it’s quite good too. I think these folks might be on to something here. What are all these connections about? Are we connecting people? Communities? Cables? Various thumb tacks on a map using red strings? I hope it isn’t the last one, but let’s have a look.
Okay, now that I’ve got you in here, I’ll get right to the point. You’re connecting water and electricity to little cities. You have a grid with different colored generators, and you need to use your limited supply of wires and pipes to connect them to all of the same-colored cities on your grid. The generators can take connections from all four cardinal directions, while cities can only be connected from one side. As time passes, more cities and generators will be added to the grid, introducing new colors and adding more complicated things to work around. Of course, you’ll also be given additional tools here and there that will hopefully help you deal with such complications. If you leave a city without its needed utilities for too long, that’s a game over. You’ll get your final score, and that’s that. Care to try again?
The base game of Tiny Connections comes with one country to play in, the United States. It includes a few different maps, and you’ll unlock those as you reach certain score thresholds. Each map varies in its land to water ratio among other things, so you need slightly different strategies for each. By purchasing a $1.99 IAP you’ll gain access to seven more maps spread across four additional countries. To round out the IAP situation here, the game has ads that you can remove with a $1.99 IAP, and there’s also a $2.99 IAP that will give you the new maps and remove ads in one go. I suspect more stages will arrive as new IAP in the future, but for now you can get everything the game has to offer for a few bucks. Or, if you want, you can just play for free on the three American maps and deal with the ads. Your call.
If you’ve been around the block a few times, the basic idea is probably sounding a little familiar here. Yes, this is rather similar to Mini Metro. Like that game, you’re having to manage what starts as a simple network of hubs, nodes, and the pieces that go between them. It gradually becomes more and more complicated, and eventually you’re just not going to be able to sort the spaghetti before the whole thing blows up in your face. Beyond the setting, the main difference here is that you’re dealing with multiple utilities, almost like if Mini Metro and Mini Motorways were smashed together. It’s a bit more strict in some ways and more lax in others. There are also some different special tools to make use of which fit the theme.
But hey, Teeny Tiny Town wasn’t the most original of affairs and I still loved it. I think what is different here is that Mini Metro isn’t quite as old as Triple Town is, and with deep apologies to Spry Fox, the presentation of Mini Metro isn’t as easily improved upon as Triple Town. Tiny Connections has a really slick presentation, and its focus on stylized realism is certainly distinct from the direction Dinosaur Polo Club chose for its games, but I really can’t say it looks and sounds better. Kind of a lateral move at best, depending on one’s tastes.
I suppose that’s the best way to describe Tiny Connections on the whole. It’s a lateral move at best from the games that it follows on from, and depending on how well you like the theme you may like it more or less. For my money, I don’t think there have been a whole ton of well-done games of this style yet, so I’m willing to give Short Circuit Studio a pass for opting to hew fairly closely to the basic idea and simply aiming to do its own take as well as it could. So that’s where I’ll leave that.
Beyond the lack of novelty, I only have some minor bones to pick with the game. The way the UI works makes it awfully easy to misplace pieces, but you can easily fix things up in those cases so it isn’t a huge deal. It’s not always immediately clear where a new problem has cropped up, particularly as things get crowded on the map. I feel like new cities occasionally pop up in places that can’t be addressed with what you have on hand, and that always feels very frustrating since all you can do is watch and wait until it busts. Relatively rare, but it does happen. Don’t waste your tunnels, friends.
I think that’s where I’ll park this one. Tiny Connections is an enjoyable, well-built spin on games like Mini Metro and Mini Motorways. Its less abstract art style and unusual premise might appeal to some players despite its mechanical familiarity, and I think it’s safe to say that if you loved any of the aforementioned titles then you’ll certainly want to give this a look as well. Since you can sample a good portion of the game for free, it’s easy to do just that. If you like what you see, you can open up the rest of the game and send those ads to Pluto for a very reasonable price. Another strong effort from this developer.