Tiny Token Empires review for PSN

Platform: PS3
Publisher: BiP Media
Developer: BiP Media
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

As iOS games go, Tiny Token Empires is pretty amazing. It’s an interesting combination of Risk-style turn-based strategy and match-3 that’s perfect for gaming on the go. Of course, it also indulges in the unfortunate tendency of iOS games to nickel-and-dime you for every little bit of content, but that’s beside the point: if you’re looking for something fun on your iDevice, I couldn’t recommend it any more highly.

As a PSN download, though? Let’s just say that as PS3 games go, Tiny Token Empires is a very good iPod game. Which is to say that it faces the same problem that also faced iOS-to-PS3 games like Angry Birds and Jetpack Joyride. While all three are great for filling up that 20 minute space you have to kill while you’re commuting in to work or waiting around between classes, they’re not nearly substantial enough to sustain the kind of experience you’re looking for if you’ve settled down on your couch in front of your PS3.

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Admittedly, as iOS games on the PS3 go, Tiny Token Empires probably comes closest to having the ingredients for sustaining a longer gaming session. While some of the early campaigns can be finished off relatively quickly, all it takes is one ill-advised attack or some bad matching luck, and all of a sudden you’re stuck grinding out small victory after small victory. Not only that, the game lends itself to a multiplayer experience in ways that other iOS games do not. Of course, I say that more on a theoretical level than anything else — I tried connecting to the game’s multiplayer servers a couple of times, but I never had any luck finding anyone to play with.

That lack of an online community isn’t the game’s only drawback, either. On a related note, the AI is fairly unforgiving, punishing even the smallest mistakes. While that’s obviously a plus for some, if you’re going into it hoping for some casual single-player fun — as you might expect from an iOS game — you’ll quickly find yourself overmatched.

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Also not fun: navigating around the map. It’s clearly an interface that was designed for fingers, not thumbsticks on controllers, and trying to look around the world to see what’s happening elsewhere is awkward, to say the least.

In fact, it’s enough to make you wonder why BiP Media ported their game to this particular Sony gaming device. Maybe it’s just me, but I would’ve figured that a game designed for handhelds would’ve been tailor-made for the PS Vita, what with its touchscreen and all. That they instead aimed a little higher and put their game on the PS3 seems like a missed opportunity.

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In any case, what’s done is done, and we can only talk about the game that BiP Media did make, not the one they should have. And what did they do with Tiny Token Empires? A decent enough job, particularly for strategy and match-3 fans, but not something essential by any stretch of the imagination.

Grade: B