Once Upon a Tower is a vertical mining platformer by Mars: Mars developer Pomelo Games. In this game, players take on the role of a princess escaping the tower where she is being held prisoner by a dragon and his minions. With only a hefty hammer at her disposal, the princess must dig, bash, and fall her way down the many levels of the narrow keep to, eventually, the exit. Gamezebo’s Once Upon a Tower Tips, Cheats and Strategies will help you and your princess get a few steps closer to freedom.
Already pretty good at Once Upon a Tower? Can you make it past level 5 with ease? Be sure to check out our Once Upon a Tower Tips, Cheats and Strategies for Advanced Players.
You can’t move while falling
The controls in Once Upon a Tower take some getting used to, but the one aspect we didn’t fully grasp until we’d failed multiple attempts is that the princess cannot move while falling. So be aware of what is directly below you before stepping off a ledge or digging through a dirt platform, as she will land on it. This fact will often determine the path you take through the tower, as you’ll want to avoid falling on spikes or try to land behind fire-spewing totems if possible.
The exception to this rule is the Parachute power-up (shown in the image above): if you have this equipped, she can move while falling, although it’s still tough to do on short drops where there’s not much time to adjust.
Swing your weapon while falling—a lot
Attacking in mid-air is the number one skill you should practice in OUAT. Many enemies and items will be just out of reach for your heroine unless you attack them while falling. You can snag fireflies on the way down a pit, hit totems before they throw fire at you, kill enemies that would jump after you, and so on.
Most importantly, just like on the ground, you can attack in any direction: if you’re about to land on a hazard like a spike, you can swipe down to destroy it before you are hurt. If an enemy is falling towards your head, you can swipe up to destroy it. If you have to fall past a totem and mistimed your jump, swipe towards it to potentially deflect any fireballs that would hit you on the way down.
Points and power-ups
The fireflies you collect and enemies you whack provide points, which are added to your total next to the crown in the upper-right corner of the screen. Fireflies award 50 points while enemies and totems give 10 each. Enemies will pick up or eat fireflies if they get near them; killing an enemy that has taken a firefly will award you the points for both (10 + 50 = 60). Hitting enemies in quick succession will result in combos, although breaking totems does not apply.
These points are used for two things: first, when a run is over, the number of points you earned will become your final score. Your actual score is the number of points you earned multiplied by your current challenge level: every time you complete a set of (three) challenges, your level increases by one, as does your multiplier. So, if you see “x2” next to your score as it’s being tallied, you’re currently on challenge level two. This score is what appears on the Game Center leaderboards, and it’s also used to unlock additional princesses.
Points are also used to purchase power-ups during a run. Any points you spend on power-ups will be deducted from your total and thus not applied to your final score. However, power-ups are extremely useful for progressing farther down the tower and can help you build a high score even if you have to sacrifice part of it to acquire them.
Our two favorite, must-purchase power-ups are the Fire Hammer and Hard Boots. The Fire Hammer allows you to attack two tiles away from the princess instead of just one. This means you can fend off enemies before they’re within range of hitting you, grab fireflies that are just out of standard reach, and clear more dirt at once. (Note: the Fire Hammer will still only remove one tile of dirt when digging down since this would otherwise affect movement and path planning.)
The Hard Boots allow you to fall onto spikes without being hurt. This also includes the spiky crab enemies that begin showing up around level five. While this item might not seem especially useful early in the game when dodging spikes isn’t very difficult, later on you’ll be falling through and into large groups of enemies and dangers, and not having to worry about where you land can be a huge help.
Both of these items, and many others—like the Parachute and Hammerfall—are permanent upgrades for the duration of that run. So if you fall on a set of spikes, your Hard Boots don’t break: you can fall on as many spikes as you want once they are equipped. Because of this, and because items become more expensive the farther down you go, we recommend snagging your favorites as early as possible if they appear in a post-level shop. The video ad-based Wheel of Fortune also contains the Fire Hammer, Hard Boots, Armor, and Pack of Bombs—in addition to the Chicken—so it’s a good way to get some useful freebies.
What’s with the Chicken?
The Chicken is an easily attained power-up on the Wheel of Fortune, as well as an item that princess Muffin has at the start of every run. Its primary purpose is as part of challenges and probably the hardest achievement in the game: escaping the tower with a Chicken alive and well. This is difficult because, although the Chicken follows the princess closely during the run, it can be killed by all the same hazards that are a danger to her. So, if it falls on spikes, gets hit by an orc, singed by flame, etc. it will die.
If you’re not trying to keep it alive, the Chicken otherwise acts as a one-sided shield: if it’s sitting on your head and an enemy falls on top of you, the enemy and Chicken will die and you’ll be spared. Or if a fireball comes at you from one side and the Chicken is standing on that side, the Chicken dies and the fireball fizzles out, and so on. So Muffin technically has a small advantage by starting with a Chicken, although witnessing all those adorable deaths can get to a princess.
Everything hurts everything
Besides the easily killed Chicken, the rest of the tower is filled with hazards that are deadly to everyone, not just the princess. Carts can be knocked into enemies, totem fire kills anything it hits, nothing can safely fall onto spikes, and enemies even attack one another (orcs will swing at hogs, crabs will swipe at spiders, hogs will knock each other off platforms, etc.).
Occasionally, the dragon will fly by, indicating he’s about to unleash a stream of fire into the tower. When you get this warning, it means he’s going to land next to the nearest grated window and spit a line of fire that fills that entire row. The best protection when you see him coming is to drop down to a row that doesn’t have a window on either side. His fire will kill any enemies remaining in the area and can knock wheelbarrows down gaps, so beware if there’s a wheelbarrow just above you.
Speaking of fire: you can return the fireballs spit out by totems. However, you need to swing when the fire is in the tile right next to you. If you attempt to hit too early, you’ll just walk into the fireball since hitting and walking are the same motion. It’s extremely tricky and ideally something you don’t want to do unless it’s a last ditch effort. If the totem only spat one fireball, the one you hit back will destroy the totem. If it’s a double fireball totem, you’ll hit the fireball back at the next ball and diffuse it, but you won’t kill the totem.
You can escape the tower…
The tower is not endless. There is an achievement for reaching the end (and one for reaching the end with every princess), so there must actually be a bottom. Our longest run as of this writing reached level eleven, so wherever the exit is, it’s at least beyond that point. We’ll keep trying to escape, but if you managed to do so, let us know in the comments just how far you had to go!