Except it does. Kind of.
Here’s the deal: Tiny Tower is a mightily cute game where you “manage” and build a highrise floor by floor, ostensibly in Las Vegas. Your cute little pixelized building is filled to the gills with adorable little people that walk through the door on the ground floor and mill around aimlessly in the lobby until you give them a job of some kind (or kick them to the curb).
I like the little folks who stroll in off the street. They’re usually wearing some crazy little outfit. They have gumption. You can see their skills in different areas (like entertainment, retail, etc) and some of them are just terrible at their jobs. But, you gotta question their aspirations, walking in off the strip (possibly drunk), stars in their eyes and claiming that their dream job is flipping burgers up on the 19th floor.
But that’s apparently the local job market, roving eccentrics wandering into my classy establishment and refusing to leave the lobby. Can I blame them?
Its an arms race anyway, because there are always more floors to build, thus more people to hire. There’s a distinct thrill to building a new floor of the building, which takes “coins” (or “bux”, which is a distinct currency from coins, but more about that in a moment). Each new floor takes an exponential investment in coins, but the result is a randomly picked floor which might be a Tiki nightclub, a 1970’s themed hotel suite, a retail shop that sells shoes and so on. There are a huge set of possible ones I likely will never uncover. So, it’s fun to set up the floor to be built and then see what kind of new shop turns up.
So, you grab one of the applicants wandering around in the lobby, and you put them to work in a job selling seashells or cuban cigars or whatever, which generates coins. And with those coins, you can build a new floor (with increasing investment for each new floor).
But hold your horses. Any serious advancement in this game requires another kind of currency: Bux, which are distinct from the coins. Sure, to build the floors you use coins, but to upgrade the floors or any other meaningful action, you gotta have them Bux. Remember how your new wage slaves aren’t very good at their jobs? You need to upgrade the floor using Bux, and there are 10 levels of upgrading. An upgrade going too slow? You need Bux.
Without these upgrades, the floors are continually running out of stock to sell: tacos, sea turtles, pearls, songs, paintings, relics, etc. When a shop runs out of stock, it stops generating coins until you click on it again, and the restocking process is painfully slow. Want to speed it up? You need Bux, my friend.
Not having enough Bux is by far the most frustrating and limiting part of this game. Unless you are the kind of person who loves to check in a million times a day and click on everything in the building (and hey, maybe you are, I’m only judging you a little bit), you quickly realize any progression will either take forever (as in, months), or (perhaps by design) you will want to pay real-life money to purchase the Bux just to get a basic level of efficiency from your pathetic little employees.
Aside from a direct in-game buying option with actual money, Bux are handed out in the most miserly way possible, but can also be obtained via yet another currency: gambling chips. Once a day, as a reward for just opening the game you get a few paltry Bux handed over, but for the most part you have to obtain gambling chips which you can then spend in one of your own little casino floors and only then can you get Bux (my favorite is the Techno 21 blackjack club, but if it’s my club, why the hell can’t I just take the Bux?). But, of course, gambling is a gamble and it’s easy to lose your chips and get nothing. You get your grubby hands on a few chips and then bam!
Before you know it, you’ve lost all your chips in blackjack, crying at the table in the ultra-cute “Techno 21” casino, sitting on a million “coins” but no “Bux”.
And boy, getting those gambling chips don’t come easy. One semi-reliable way is via the soul-crushing elevator which runs the length of your tower. Every so often, one of the morons in the lobby steps into the elevator and instead of wanting a job, silently mouths at you to take them to one of the floors.
As in: an up/down button appears and you -the CEO and owner of the building, running a high powered multi-million coin tower in the heart of swinging Las Vegas- have to hold down the up and down button to move the little person up to their requested floor which frankly takes forever. Apparently you also moonlight as the elevator operator in an elevator which moves…. so……… slowly. Of course, you can upgrade the elevator to move faster, but guess what, buddy? Ya need Bux, and each upgrade is progressively more demanding.
When the mouthy little person gets to the floor they wanted after a while, you get a shower of coins (um, yay, I guess I’ll just toss it on the massive pile of coins I already have) and then maybe, just maybe, if you’re lucky, you might get a single gambling chip. So, in your desperation for Bux, you run down to the casino immediately and use your single precious chip, immediately blowing it on a bad poker hand and no Bux. Shameful.
It was at this point -with several million coins, a twenty-odd floors and no Bux- that I grew both angry and contemplative. I felt my own desperation, looking for a long shot success using a chip I basically lucked into by doing a menial elevator task. My palms were sweating as I cashed the chip in at the blackjack table, looking for a big score, and suddenly realized that I was no different from the no-talent shlubs walking in the lobby door. I too am caught in a web of never-ending aspiration, just trying to get ahead and get them sweet, sweet Bux.
Was this why I was operating the elevator? Over the course of the game, I have come to realize maybe I’m not actually the high rolling CEO of the building, but one of the delusional eccentrics who wandered in from the street. Maybe I am actually the elevator operator, chasing but never quite catching the American Dream, which like the tower ascends ever higher to the sky, just out of reach.
Tiny Tower: Vegas is developed by Nimblebit and is available, like, practically everywhere. I dunno, go look it up or something. If you have any spare Bux, contact me.