New Addiction or Mindless Busywork? Nimblebit's Latest Arrives

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

News by Pete Davison, .

Your phone buzzes in your pocket. You know that now is probably an inappropriate time to check it, but you do anyway. It might be something really important.

You excuse yourself and step outside to pull out your phone and take a look. Furtively, you begin tapping on the screen. A latecomer glances at you, but doesn't stop to ask what you're doing; it looks like you need to give it your full attention, since you're apparently concentrating on it to the exclusion of everything going on around you.


What they don't know, of course, is that you're not doing anything important at all; all that's happened is that, due to some unfortunate timing, both your Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes empires finished what they were doing at the same time, and now you have several hundred things to tap on to ensure that your flow of income remains at the optimal level.

Nimblebit's past games were the very essence of pointless addiction, and thus were nigh-perfect mobile games. They had no end goal and no real structure to them; all you had to do was continue building in order to keep the cashflow steadily increasing, gradually expanding either the height of your tower or the range that your planes could cover. The greater your influence, the more money you'd earn over time, but also the more things you'd have to tap on with greater frequency.

I tired of both Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes fairly quickly when I started to feel they were more like work than fun, but that hasn't stopped people continuing to play both of them ever since their release. Tiny Tower in particular has brought us a vast array of mobile games rather unsubtly "inspired by" its simplistic gameplay, though few have managed to reach the same level of popularity as Nimblebit's title.

At least part of this is due to the fact that although Tiny Tower was a freemium game with everything that entails, it was actually quite friendly to non-paying players. The game's hard currency "Bux," which could be used to skip past lengthy wait times for things like building new floors, were relatively easily acquired through normal play, which meant players felt less pressured into buying money. Interestingly, this actually led some people who would not normally spend money on a freemium game to throw a few bucks here and there in Nimblebit's direction, purely to show their appreciation for the fact they weren't being squeezed dry at every opportunity.

Now Nimblebit's newest game Pocket Trains has arrived, and it's much the same as its predecessors in many ways. This is perhaps understandable, since Pocket Planes was originally Pocket Trains early in development, before the railway concept was abandoned in favor of air travel. It seems Nimblebit felt inspired to return to their original idea, however, and hence we now have Pocket Trains vying for our attention.

Today, Europe. Tomorrow, err, Oceania?

Pocket Trains' gameplay is largely the same as Pocket Planes, with the main difference being that trains are locked to set routes that you gradually unlock with your earned money -- a tweak that adds a very slight degree of additional strategy to the game. You'll haul freight between various destinations, beginning in Europe, and expand your empire to cover the various continents. As in Pocket Planes, your trains take varying amounts of real time to travel between destinations, though this process may be sped up by expending Bux. You'll also be able to acquire new trains by shipping and unpacking crates of train parts, which in turn allows you to claim more routes.

The short version of all this is that if you enjoyed Nimblebit's past tapfests, you'll probably enjoy Pocket Trains. If you did not, I recommend you check out their "other game" that came out a while back: Nimble Quest, which combines elements of Gauntlet, action RPGs and Snake to make a surprisingly enjoyable little arcade-style diversion.

Either way, USgamer naturally takes no responsibility if anyone spots what you're really doing with your phone while you're trying to look busy.

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