I reviewed Tiny Token Empires on the Mac a couple of months ago, and found it a wonderful game that easily earned its $25 price tag. Now it has moved to the iPad and after a chance to play it through again, I can confirm that it is well worth the $9 price of admission. Let’s take a look!
Tiny Token Empires is an amazing mix-it’s a puzzle game, « Match 3 » game and turn-based strategy game. The player plays one of the five major ancient empires: Rome, Greece, Egypt, Persia, or Carthage. By developing cities and armies, and annexing new territories, the player gradually expands his power over the world!
But Tiny Token Empires is also a “casual’ strategy game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It contains a crazy comical universe: goofballs gods, super cute mythological monsters, clown legionnaires, and much more.
As more and more games hit the Mac App Store after finding success as iPad games, sometimes actual full-sized Mac games get lost in the shuffle. Take Tiny Token Empires, for example. It has a bright and charming style and ‘Match 3’ combat system that might make you think it is a simple game, but underneath there is a full sized game to match the full sized $9 price tag.
Hybrid strategy-puzzle games have seen great success in recent years, starting with the classic Puzzle Quest. I also recently reviewed Jack of All Tribes, which brings puzzles and strategy together, but more focused on city-builder approach.
Tiny Token Empires has more of a ‘Puzzle Quest meets Civilization’ feel. What that means to me is that while there is a certain casual element involved, there is a ton of great and compelling stuff happening under the hood.
It is worth mentioning some of the features:
• Five campaigns – one per nation for over 15 hours of gaming.
• 5 nations, 5 heroes, 25 generals and 50 kinds of units!
• 5 kinds of puzzles to get through battles, digs, events and more.
• 3 difficulty levels that offer a new challenge every time.
• 4 other game modes (solo and multi) to make the fun last even longer!
The goal is to slowly expand your sphere of influence over the entire world until your empire is the ultimate power in the world! It is engaging, humorous, and satisfying.
Tiny Token Empires features a turn-based system that permeates everything – you start each turn by collecting revenue linked to all of the territories you control, then have to pay out your expenses before you can take actions. These actions include moving units, improve cities, recruit armies or generals, and ultimately attack enemies. You have a certain amount of moves before your turn ends, then the other empires take their turns.
The combat system uses an intriguing combination of turn-based strategy and match-3 casual gameplay. When you start out, you have a variety of units available, but you cannot take any actions until you fill the meter of the unit type you want to use to attack.So if you want to attack with an archer you need to match red archer icons to fill the meter.
Once your units are ready you can engage enemies with a variety of normal and special attacks. Each attack type drains life from the enemy … and of course their attacks drain life from your units. Their are generally three possibilities – easy victory, utter defeat, and a pitched battle. In the case of an easy victory – or quick defeat for that matter – you can select automatic combat resolution if you want. For most battles, ceding control can be the difference between victory and defeat. Personally, there isn’t much ‘trash collection’ combat, so I never found the need for automatic resolution.
Tiny Token Empires lasts about 15 hours for the main campaign across five different empires, each with a different feel to the gameplay. Things move along quickly enough that you will never get bored. Perhaps my only quibble is that a deeper specialized combat system could have added dimension to the gameplay and replay ability to the overall experience.
The port from Mac to iPad was done amazingly well – it takes one of my favorite games and improves it by fully integrating the touch and ‘on the go’ elements of the iPad. It looks great and the humor remains intact – you really lose nothing on the iPad … except the need to have a computer with you!
In order for a game to be worth $8.99 in this era of $1 casual games, it has to offer something ‘more’. Tiny Token Empires has a long campaign, loads of combat units to exploit enemy weaknesses, fun puzzles, and more. It is definitely worth checking out!
Here is the trailer for Tiny Token Empires:
Review: Tiny Token Empires
Where to Buy: iTunes App Store
What I Like: Deep and engaging gameplay; fun turn-based combat system; excellent integration of casual and hardcore elements; fun and challenging puzzles
What Needs Improvement: Increased specialized attacks could have added even more depth and replay ability
Source: Publisher provided review code