Pixel People iOS review: Sim City expertly spliced with Tiny Tower

Space-based city builder impresses on iPad

It's Sim City meets Tiny Tower. In space. Pixel People expands the society building formula pioneered by the likes of Tiny Tower and sees you managing a floating metropolis full of pixelated inhabitants, somewhere in the depths of the universe. Oh, and it's seriously good. Oh, oh, and it's free.

Our city, after about four hours of play

The aim is simple. Increase your population, earn money, spread out, increase your population further, earn more money etc etc. It's the way you expand that's so clever in Pixel People. Every new arrival to your city, Utopia, is a clone. When they arrive you splice together the DNA from existing clone types (so, you could combine a Police Officer with a Farmer) to create a brand new 'job'.

Once that's done, you put them to work in a workplace you already built, or a brand new one. So, for example, when you first create an Athlete the game will unlock a sports stadium. Place it, build it, and send your clone to work. It's a great way to keep you involved in the expansion of your tiny-peopled population.

The challenge comes from balancing your expansion with your resources. Sure, building more houses will bring in more clones, but do you have the space to accommodate their workplaces? Expanding your little corner of space (so you can build more stuff) starts cheap and gets expensive quick. However, unlike rival empire-sim Pocket Planes, it never feels like you're being gouged for cash to keep playing.

Plus, there's always something to do while you wait for the cash to roll in. Trees generate coins that you can tap to grab, and you can encourage romance between citizens to unlock rewards or - weirdly - animal species, which roam around your city. If you're desperate to expand quickly, you can swap real life currency for in-game coins; something you'll be tempted to do when expansion hits your virtual wallet hard about half way through.

Spend or not, though, Pixel People delivers plenty of entertainment for free admission, making it something you should definitely download.

The verdict

Excellent little city builder brings plenty of charm and entertainment for free

  • Play for hours, never spend a penny
  • Lovely, colourful retro art style
  • Has you constantly tapping
  • Turns into a grind after a few hours
  • Tightly packed cities can be confusing to navigate
Apple iPhone
LambdaMu Games
Sim / Strategy