Dig deep with Glu’s Lil’ Kingdom

Lil’ Kingdom is a new game from Glu Mobile. The title is a Tiny Tower-inspired building game, and has been downloaded over 500,000 times from Google Play since its launch, showing up as the No. 32 top grossing Android title at the end of last week.

Note: This title was tested on a Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 3.2. No compatibility or performance issues were encountered.

After choosing a name for their castle and naming the resident princess, players are introduced to the game’s basic mechanics via a brief tutorial. Gameplay is almost identical to Nimblebit’s Tiny Tower, albeit digging down instead of building up. Players build increasingly-deep floors in their castle which may either be residential or commercial in nature. Residential floors allow players to provide housing for residents, who can then be used to staff the commercial floors and make money. Most tasks, be they building a new floor or restocking a commercial floor, take a particular period of real time to accomplish, though they may be “hurried” using hard currency — this may be purchased with real money or, like in Tiny Tower, earned gradually through normal play.

Sometimes, characters will knock on the player’s door and request to be ferried to a particular floor using the castle’s elevator system. Some of these characters have special abilities — dwarves, for example, have the ability to hurry production of a new floor without having to expend hard currency. At other times, the castle’s princess will request a specific product that is in stock on one of the commercial floors, and the player is then required to carry a character to the relevant floor before a timer expires. As the inverted tower expands, this time limit becomes tighter, so the player is able to upgrade the elevator’s speed using large quantities of hard currency.

The game also features a “collection” mechanic where players sometimes find special items after completing one of the princess’ requests. Completing collections unlocks the ability to build special floors which provide various bonuses to the player, allowing them to earn soft currency quicker.

Lil’ Kingdom does not feature social play, unlike Tiny Tower and other similar titles such as Zynga’s Dream Heights. Part of the attraction of Nimblebit’s original title in particular was competing against friends to see who could build the highest tower the quickest, and that incentive is not present in Lil’ Kingdom. Zynga’s Dream Heights built on this formula by allowing players to build connections to other players’ towers and trade with them, but that facility, too, is not present in Glu’s offering.

Lil’ Kingdom, in short, is simply a game to play for the sake of playing — there is no specific end goal and no means of competing against other players. This is not necessarily a bad thing — the Tiny Tower formula is proven to be popular and addictive for many players, and the game’s large number of downloads and strong showing in the Top Grossing charts for Android suggest that it is finding an audience. How long these players will continue playing (and paying) without social features and competitive play, however, remains to be seen.

Lil’ Kingdom is available to download now for Android devices via Google Play. It is also available as a Universal app for iOS devices via the App Store. On iOS, the title peaked at No. 8 in the Top Free iPad Games chart, and is currently placed at No.310 in Top Free iPad Games, No. 278 in Top Grossing Games and No. 208 in Top Grossing iPad Games.