Yuji Naka is a name that's been associated with some memorable titles over the years, including Sega's most important property, Sonic the Hedgehog. In his latest title, "Ivy the Kiwi?" his studio, Prope, has gone back and evoked the essence of Sonic by making the main focus of the gameplay center around the titular character, Ivy, a small woodland creature who runs a lot. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your feelings about Sonic's latest titles) it's doubtful that "Ivy" will have the same staying power as a certain blue hedgehog.
After mysteriously falling from the sky in the "forest where the birds live," Ivy, a small, partially hatched fowl, immediately ran off in search of her mother, and it's up to the player to help Ivy succeed in her quest. At its heart, "Ivy the Kiwi?" is an action puzzle game, wherein you have to help Ivy make it to the end of each level by providing her with vines to traverse the dangers of each board. Point the Wii remote at the screen to select the placement of the beginning and the end of each vine and Ivy will use them to cross dangerous traps, or protect her from enemies, or just reach different platforms.
It's A Pretty Game
Prope obviously put a ton of time and effort into creating Ivy's world, since it has one of the most distinct and adorable art stlye of all the games on the Wii. Ivy looks like she could be a character out of a children's storybook, running around screens crafted by expert illustrators. Whether you're a fan of the gameplay or not, it shouldn't be hard to appreciate the unique beauty of the game.
Everyone Can Help Ivy
One player doesn't have to keep all of the fun to themselves, up to four people can get in on the action at once in the game. The game's competitive local multiplayer allows friends to go head-to-head to see who can complete the levels the fastest, and with the most points. Additionally, players can drop-in/drop-out of co-op through out the game's story levels, offering Ivy another set of vines to assist her. While the co-op can get a bit hectic, if the players can coordinate their skills, two Wii remotes are undoubtedly better than one.
One Valuable Bird
Retailing for only $29.99, "Ivy the Kiwi?" offers up enough replay value that you're sure to be satisfied with your purchase. Each level is replayable in time trail mode, as well as in the main campaign, which challenges you to go through and collect all of the strategically placed feathers. While the first trip through the game might seem a little on the short side, there's definitely room to go back and dig deeper into the title.
Use The Vines ... Again
The pointer based action puzzle game has been done before on the Wii, and while it hasn't been done to death like some genres, there's really only so far you can take it without it loosing its luster. "Ivy the Kiwi?" toes that line, and may even cross it for some by the end of the game. The mechanics are simple to learn, and take some time to master (both good things), and the game builds on them offering new challenges around the vine creation as the game goes, it's just there's not much more to it than that. By the end, it feels a bit shallow, and could make the game feel like its droning on and on for some players.
Always Three Vines
Vine creation can be both simple and confusing at the same time. Since it is an absolute requirement of the game, it's impossible to go a level without creating vines for Ivy to use. Unfortunately, you can only create vines in sets of threes, meaning that you can't simply remove a vine that you misplaced in hopes of replacing it with a better one: you actually have to cycle through two more to clear out the bad one, so you end up creating all these extra vines just to help you move on. It's just a frustrating part of the gameplay that could have been easily worked around.
"Ivy the Kiwi?" tries to do a lot of things to stand apart from its action puzzle brethren, and, for the most part, it succeeds. The game's simple pointer-based mechanics kept making me think that this title would make a perfect iPhone game, but it's fleshed out enough to be a worthy budget Wii title. As long as you don't go into the game looking for a really deep experience, "Ivy the Kiwi?" will offer a fun experience, along with a lot of replay in a beautiful setting.