So Many Ads, So Little Gameplay
Welcome to Tiny Kingdom, the so-called strategy game that’s an endless stream of ads! Brought to you by IEC Games, the creators of Tiny Battle, which coincidentally appears to be exactly the same as Tiny Kingdom in everything but name.
This game is essentially thirty second ad after thirty second ad, stacked on top each other and wearing a metaphorical mobile gaming app trench coat. After you get past the ads—sentiment that’s purely expression because you never get past the ads—the game itself is unfortunately simple.
You begin Tiny Kingdom with a compulsory walkthrough that is pretty pointless and only serves to confuse the player. It directs you only through a disembodied hand that points at different elements on the screen. Beyond that has no dialogue or plot to the game whatsoever. This is a game that takes minimalism to an extreme, and not in a good way.
Tiny Kingdom is ridiculously straightforward. You start out with only swordsman troops, unlocking others as you progress, such as archers, war dogs, mages, dragons, and others. Of course, you can also upgrade the troops you currently have. Gather troops with in-game currency and throw them at your enemies. If you can hack the game’s troops apart first and invade their castle, you win.
As east as Tiny Kingdom is to play, it’s even easier to get in-game currency and troops. That is, as long as you don’t mind watching the thirty second ads.
There is a “secret” shop, in which you watch ads to get troops, as well as a “spin the wheel” that’s free every 20 minutes or so. After that, you can watch an ad for a free spin. When using gold to purchase troops you can watch an ad to double the number of troops received. Diamonds, which you earn through optional dragon battles, are spent on summoning buttons. These buttons simply “summon” more troops. Since there aren’t any special or rare troops to gain, these summoning options are redundant considering the presence of the secret shop. After battles there’s always the option of watching an ad to double the amount of gold you earn. And of course, what mobile game is complete without those lovely ads that pop up in between battles?
Now That’s What I Call Creepy
The 3D stick figures make me viscerally uncomfortable, but I can’t force myself to look away. My favorite enemies are the bosses because they’re shockingly large and are extremely unpleasant to look at.
While the music itself isn’t creepy, the constant loop of it tends to haunt your thoughts after a while. I want to know what video of beginner lute playing the folks at IEC Games clipped their background music from, because while the five seconds of it that they awkwardly cut and looped together is fine, it would be great to listen to an entire song that was meant to be played over and over again. Another fun fact, the background music still plays while the ads are going, even if the ads have music. This creates a wonderful “layered” sound that makes the listener’s ears start to bleed.
Somehow, all of these negative qualities—the constant ads, the easy source of gold and diamonds and how even easier it is to spend them, the simplistic gameplay that borders on imbecilic—all make it harder to put the game down. This game accesses a deep, primal part of the human brain linked to instant gratification and stupidity.
There are other positive aspects of Tiny Kingdom that could be discussed, like when the dragons win and do little victory spins in the air, or how the fact that in-game currency is so easy to accumulate the features that prompt you to use actual money aren’t really necessary to play or win. The ads that happen every minute, however, kind of get in the way of it all.
Is It Hardcore?
This could have easily been a 1, but there’s a certain addictiveness about it I can’t seem to shake that bumps it up half a notch.