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What's the fastest way to get the space bucks needed to get your giant galactic battlestation fully operational so you can terrorize the galaxy? Opening up a snack shop and peddling womp rat stew, apparently. Tiny Death Star leans heavily on its adorable pixel art presentation and silly personality to suck you in, as the cutesy Star Wars-skinned take on Tiny Tower reimagines the Death Star as a strip mall of sorts. And keeping it running smoothly is fun — assuming you don't expect any action, explosions, or space battles.
Much like the game it's based on, Tiny Death Star has you constructing your cash-cow empire one floor at a time. Building residential units attracts citizens, while holochess rooms, food courts, lightsaber shops, and other consumer-centric diversions keep them spending coin to further your dark aims. Everything might seem on the up-and-up topside, but you'll soon flesh out your Imperial underground with interrogation rooms, blast doors, and other secret levels that let you harness special resources.
Your quest for coin keeps you occupied expanding your infrastructure bit by bit and micromanaging each operation. As new visitors arrive, you’ll manually ferry them to the floor of choice. Some will just visit; others will move in. Once you get new residents, putting them to work in your shops lets you order new stock to keep customers happy and earn more for the cause. Everything moves along at a slow but steady burn. Timers on construction, food/item orders, and other elements can take anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour, though you can drop tougher-to-earn Imperial Bux to speed things up. Spending real world money to boost your Bux is an option, but taking on simple missions for the Emperor and Darth Vader earn them without having to open your wallet.
The lack of action and the incessant timers make the flow of gameplay feel sluggish at times, but it's fun to come back to your operation a few times a day to dig back in and get your mitts dirty. Nostalgia is the big draw here for some. The amazingly spot-on pixel art settings and well-done character costumes are brilliant, and the tone of the text and dialogue put a nicely light and campy spin on classic Star Wars quotes and themes.
The bottom line. Tiny Death Star's slow but satisfying consumer-centric twist on battlestation management lacks the excitement of the films it draws from, but makes up for it raw cuteness and loads of thoughtful fan service.
iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone running iOS 6.0 or later
Adorable pixelated Star Wars characters. Great fan service. Expanding your infrastructure with unique rooms is satisfying.
Progress is slow-burning without spending money. No real action to speak of.