Platform games are quickly becoming a dime a dozen. That is why when the name Yuji Naka is attached to a project that doesn’t have the name Sonic attached; we tend to pay attention. His latest creation comes in the form of a budget-priced platformer for the Wii with an interesting twist. Ivy the Kiwi is a puzzle platformer that uses the Wii remote to draw lines for your character to traverse the level. Think of it in a similar fashion to Nintendo’s own Kirby’s Canvas Curse and you get the idea. It also brings a unique level of presentation and even a decent challenge to the table.
The premise of the game is as straightforward as you can get. Ivy is distressed; she needs to find her mother and fast. This leads her on a constant journey that you have to help her through. You see Ivy never stops moving, kind of like Lemmings, which means that you are constantly trying to create ways for her to proceed, while also protecting her from the obstacles in the game.
This is all performed by using the Wii remote to draw lines that Ivy can use. These can help her across gaps, launch her into new areas, or just protect her from the dangers of the level. It only takes one shot to see a game over screen, so planning your moves accordingly is a must. It is also worth noting that you don’t have free reign to just plaster ramps and pathways wherever you want. Instead you are limited to three at a time, which significantly bumps up the challenge and makes you think about every move you make.
The diversity in the gameplay is actually its greatest strength. Things are not as simple as just getting Ivy from point A to point B by creating bridges; you can also use the vines in other fashions. For example there are enemies scattered about that are aiming to take you down. You can use the vines to flick them out of the way, in tandem you can also use the vines to send Ivy soaring across areas. You have to be careful of her momentum though as she is just as likely to land in danger if you are not careful. This creates a sense of experimentation and fun results. The game also doesn’t penalize you too much for dying, which is good as you will definitely die fairly often.
There are over 100 stages, which may sound like a lot, but this game feels more akin to a portable title. The levels are short and satisfying, and there are challenges that unlock once you complete the main game. Prope has also thrown in a multiplayer mode that has you and up to three friends running the gamut trying to collect medals. The twist here is that you can actually interfere with your opponents’ screen by drawing vines on it, which makes for some hectic matches. For the price the package offers enough to make it worth checking out; especially for those that enjoy games like Lemmings.
I absolutely love the visual style of the game. Everything has a washed-out tone that makes you feel like you are flipping through the pages of a sketchbook. It really does look and feel like nothing else you have played before. The aesthetic compliments the simplicity and uniqueness of the title perfectly. The sound is equally impressive with catchy themes for each world and an array of sound effects that simply fit the feel of the game flawlessly.
Ivy the Kiwi is not your normal platform adventure game that it might appear to be. Its unique blend of puzzle and action really set it apart from the normal shovelware found on the Wii. For the price on the box this is definitely a title I recommend checking out if you are at all interested in the genre. It is a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded sea of copycats. The visuals style is also such a delight that you won’t mind dying repeatedly until you finally master some of the game’s more challenging levels.
Review copy provided by publisher.