I can’t say for sure that it was the first one to do it, but I can say that my own personal first experience with the “merge” genre was Spry Fox’s Triple Town way back in 2012 when the popular web-based game hit iOS. This was really an evolution of the tried-and-true match-3 genre as your matches would not simply disappear, but would create an entirely new singular block. Every one of the game’s base block types could be matched into a more advanced tier, with those advanced versions then being matched to create the next tier of block, and so on. This was extremely clever because it added a whole new strategic element to matching games where you weren’t simply trying to make matches to clear board space, but you were needing to focus on where your matches were being made on the board so that the resulting advanced tier block could be positioned in a way to create further matches. You also didn’t want to clog things up in a way that you wouldn’t have enough space to make matches anymore, because once that board filled up and no more matches were possible your game was over.
Oops. I just spent a ton of time basically re-reviewing a more than decade old game. Thankfully everything I just described about Triple Town also applies to Teeny Tiny Town from Short Circuit Studio. This is a new merging game that applies those core mechanics of merge-based city-building with an extremely pleasing aesthetic and a few unique wrinkles. For one, you can bulldoze a square on the board or you can swap one tile on the board with another, two abilities that can be total game changers and are also limited so as not to be abused. There’s also a constant flow of mini-goals to achieve during the game which will reward you with coins or uses of those abilities, and there’s a sort of shop type thing in the game where you can use coins to buy various items to help build out your city. Need that ONE particular tile to make a match and free up valuable space? You might be able to buy it in the shop.
Consumable items and in-game coins probably sound scary, but Teeny Tiny Town is actually a very premium game. It’s free to start with a limited number of moves you can make, and if you run out of moves you can watch an ad to earn some more or just wait for them to reset. If you hate that sort of thing, there’s a few different IAP options to unlock a premium version of the game. One simply gives you unlimited moves, one unlocks an extra title slot, and one unlocks the rest of the game’s map types. Oh, did I forget to mention there’s a slot to “hold” a tile type for later kind of like in Tetris, and that the game features multiple types of maps in varying grid sizes and with varying elevations for even more complex gameplay? Because those things exist too. And you can unlock all 3 premium IAP options for a discounted singular bundle that’s just $2.99.
I probably should have just saved myself some time and said “Just unlock the whole game for 3 bucks” because that’s what you’ll likely want to do after spending just a bit of time with Teeny Tiny Town. This is a seriously good merge game, with seriously good production values, and I’m finding myself getting lost while playing it because time just sort of disappears. Try it out for free, you won’t regret it, and you’ll probably find yourself three bucks poorer before long. Also, the developer Short Circuit Studio is active in our forums and very receptive to feedback, if you can think of something you might like to see in a future version then don’t be shy about sounding off.