Nothing pleases me more than diving into a simulation game, building to my heart’s content, and making chaos for my happy little town. This rings true with Tinytopia, a new simulation game published by Mastiff. Though the game wasn’t at all what I was expecting, it was full of charm and had some interesting challenges to overcome.
Tinytopia is a city simulation game that gives you challenges to complete in each new area. You must supply power, employment and homes to see your city grow in order to meet the requirements of each level-and there are a lot of levels. There is a seemingly sweet narrator that acts as your tutorial guide throughout the game, and Tinytopia manages to bring comedy into the sim through this character.
Heading into Tinytopia, I was expecting something along the lines of the Tycoon-type games. There are elements of that here, but the game is more focused on levels instead of one base city that you nurture until you decide to let it descend into chaos before you start over. Each level will ask you to meet three or so goals before you can move to the next, usually requiring a minimum number of residents, allowing you to buy a new building.
“I found myself just spamming buildings to meet the occupancy requirement and move on to the next area.”
What is different about this simulation is that each level is completely different. Some are in the desert, some are out-there UFO based areas, and there are even real-life areas like Paris. Every time you complete an area, you are able to move to a new one, but you start over from scratch each time. Though you can technically keep going in the same area as long as you want, it isn’t as rewarding as seeing your zoo or theme park thrive in other sims.
This all sounds like a tiny gripe, but I found myself just spamming buildings to meet the occupancy requirement and move on to the next area. There is never a time you need to worry about money unless you’re going completely wild, so really, you can just build and build without consequence-so long as you’re building with a balance between homes, stores and power. It took the real challenge out of the game for me, though if you follow the honour system, you may find yourself able to enjoy the gameplay.
Another notable element of Tinytopia are blueprints. The more you play around with different combinations of buildings, the more you’ll be able to find new ones. You can upgrade from level one to level two to level three and so on by adding other buildings which can be the same or different. This is an excellent challenge for any completionist players out there, and it’s not an easy one.
I found myself sitting in one level for ages, trying to mash different buildings together to make new ones. The game gives hints in the form of light green outlines to tell you what building needs to be placed next to make a new one. The challenge lies with figuring out which buildings the game is hinting at, because they could also be any level, not necessarily just level ones. It isn’t easy. I did get frustrated. But it adds a little difficulty to an otherwise simple game.
“Tinytopia functions well, and its graphics are adorable.”
Tinytopia functions well, and its graphics are adorable. You can add your own disasters at your leisure, including tornadoes, earthquakes and-my personal favourite-a monster attack à la Godzilla. You can use your resources to build turrets or deploy police, fire trucks and ambulances to save the day, becoming your own hero. I don’t get it, but it was fun, I did say I like chaos.
Physics is at the heart of the game’s building mechanics, with things coming crashing down if you don’t place them just so. You will watch your buildings topple over and crumble if you aren’t careful. Some levels require this, with goals asking you to build to a certain height, or balance your city out on a teeter-totter without letting it crash. Fortunately, there is also a snapping feature which allows you to line everything up and have it click into place to avoid disaster.
Tinytopia is very different from any building sim I have played. Some changes are welcome, where others are not. The game managed to put a spin on the usual simulation gameplay, and it works to its advantage for the most part, so long as you don’t find yourself bored and rushing through the motions.
Thanks to the ability to remain in one level after you’ve completed your main missions (even though I found it uninspiring to do so), Tinytopia offers something to a variety of different playstyles. Featuring challenges, blueprints, and creative levels, the game manages to find different ways to connect to different types of players. Creators, completionists and maniacs will all find something to enjoy in Tinytopia.