|Ivy The Kiwi?
|Publisher: XSEED Games|
|Release Date: August 24, 2010|
|Price: Wii - $29.99 | DS - $19.99|
|ESRB Rating: E|
The story of Ivy The Kiwi? revolves around a newly hatched bird named Ivy. After being born, Ivy realizes that her mother is nowhere to be found. Scared and full of tears, Ivy runs off into the distance in search of her mother. Since she still has her egg shell on and lacks the ability to fly, the assumption is made that Ivy is a Kiwi, hence the question mark at the end of the game's title. You won't find some deep storyline here, but the short storybook tale is a nice little treat that helps tie the game altogether. And that's all thanks to the game's visuals which make you feel like you are in storybook. They're colorful and gorgeous. The music is also catchy and goes great with the atmosphere.
Since she's lost and confused, all Ivy can do is run and run. You, as the player, are given the task to guide her safely to the goal by creating vines for her to run over to avoid the many hazards that fill the levels. On the Wii, vines are created using the pointer of the Wii remote, with the stylus being used for the Nintendo DS version. The vines do have their limitations though, as you can only have three present on the screen at any time. Making a fourth vine will make the first created vine disappear. You can see which vine will disappear next by their lightness in color. Vines can also snap if stretched out too far.
Almost everything on the map will hurt Ivy. Spikes, water drops, rats, and crows will slowly fill up the later levels in the game. Proper vine placement is key to avoiding these obstacles. Enemies like the rats and crows will move about levels, so a bit of strategic play is involved. With rats, you can block them from getting near Ivy with your vines or to guide them somewhere else. Unfortunately, Crows are unaffected by vines, so avoiding them is the best means of action. Ivy does have an attack move though to defeat any enemies. Using the vines you place, you can hold them down like a slingshot to launch Ivy in the air. She'll fly off in a corkscrew motion defeating enemies that get in the way, and is invincible until she stops spinning. This launch technique is also used to destroy breakable walls. However, in certain levels there will be stronger walls, and those can only be broken with the help of a nearby boulder.
The controls are simple, but lots of the elements involved make this one challenging game. Since you don't control Ivy directly, it's easy to accidentally set her up to her doom. The fact that she is always moving, means you must always be on the alert of any upcoming hazards. Get hit once, and that's it, you lose a life and need to start the level over. This can lead to moments of frustration, especially if you near the end of the level only to fail. To top it all off, you're also given a 5 minute(300 seconds) time limit to reach the goal. So while slow and steady may help in overcoming some of the obstacles, work too slow and you'll have to start over. Also scattered across the levels are feathers, 10 in total for each level. Grabbing these will boost up your score, and you're awarded an extra life when you obtain 10 at any time in your play through.
Although just reaching the finish at the end is the main goal of the game, there is a score being tracked. You gain points for grabbing feathers, and for how much time is left over when you complete a level. And even though you don't get penalized much for losing a life, other than starting the level over, you will lose all your points if you lose all your lives. On the upside though, you can still continue where you left off, without needing to start from the very beginning.
It won't take too long, maybe around 3-5 hours, to get through the game's first 50 levels. Once those are beaten, you'll be rewarded with the full story of Ivy The Kiwi? and 50 additional bonus levels. The bonus levels are harder versions of the first 50 you've just played, and introduce a new puzzle element, where you'll need to find the hidden key in order to get through the wall that blocks access to the goal. There is also a Stage Trial mode that will allow you to replay any completed level, if you just want to improve your score on a specific level. There are no online leaderboards, but you do get medals for fast level completion times and a special unlock if you collect all of the game's feathers. So it's really a matter of if you'll still be interested and willing enough to attempt the harder levels and to collect everything in the game. It's a simple game too, so it's easy to jump back in at anytime should you slowly lose interest and take a break from it.
Multiplayer is also available, to help increase the game's life, and it differs depending on the platform. For Wii, there's Co-op and Race. In Co-op a second player can jump in and star making vines. The second player's vines don't count towards the first-player's so in Co-op you can make a total of six vines on screen. In Race, up to four players race on a chosen stage to get their Ivy to the goal first. The interesting part is that players can make their vines anywhere on the screen, even on the other players course. You are still limited to 3 vines at a time though. On the Nintendo DS, multiplayer is done via Single-card or Multi-card, and consists of Race and Medal Collection. The race mode is similar to the Wii mode, but without the vine interference. And Medal Collection will have players tracking down medals, with the winner being the player who collects the most. The multiplayer modes are nice additions to the game, but they're not exactly something to keep you entertained for too long.
My experience with Ivy The Kiwi? was a enjoyable one, even if I've come across some pretty frustrating moments. The game looks good, the controls are simple, and it's hard enough for high-skilled gamers to feel challenged. For it's low price tag, I would recommend gamers to check out the title. It's a pretty interesting game that offers something different and you'll feel satisfied with yourself when you reach the end.
Which version to pick up?
Since both games offer the same level designs, you won't lose anything in terms of content should you choose to go with Wii or DS. The main differences between the games are the ways they control, and I would have to give the DS the nod thanks to the increased precision of the stylus. I found nothing wrong with the Wii pointer, but let's just say my DS experience was less frustrating than my Wii experience. One other advantage I would give the DS version over the Wii is that the DS version features a map of the whole level along with your current location on the top screen. This helps makes things easier since you're not exactly given much on how to get to the goal. The portability of the Nintendo DS also works well with Ivy The Kiwi?'s short levels, allowing you to complete a level or two in short bursts of play. Overall, each version will have their advantages over the other, like the Wii will have the bigger picture with better graphics, and the DS will have the portability and smaller price tag - Wii is $29.99 and DS is $19.99. So which version to go with just comes down to your personal preference.
|The Good||The Bad|
|- Fresh and interesting gameplay
||- Can be frustrating
|- Gorgeous visuals
||- Fairly short, if you choose not to take on the game's harder levels or collect feathers|
|- A good challenge