Yuji Naka at Prope has now come up with the best video game since his former hit, The Hedgehog. Ivy The Kiwi? Is a platformer video game that was originally designed in 2009 for Windows Mobile. Then it was adapted to the Wii and Nintendo DS platforms. The primary appeal is the game’s alluring simplicity that builds to a more complicated challenge as the game progresses.
Meet Ivy, the game’s protagonist, in the form of a feisty little bird who toddles tirelessly in an effort to find her mother. The operator’s job is to help her get through a maze of obstacles and help her through a series of strange vines that seem to appear out of nowhere. The vines have the capacity to swing, snap and stretch in ways that allow them to be ramps, pinball-like flippers and catapults .
Advanced gamers may find themselves wishing for a few more complexities along the way, despite the clever design of the vine-stretching mechanics. The game is designed, however, for a range of players of every skill level, giving even those more advanced players a run for their money. The curve of difficulty steadily increases as Ivy progresses through the charmingly presented fantasy environment.
The theme is set when Ivy hatches from an egg, alone and vulnerable in a forest. Wearing half of the egg’s shell as a hat, off she runs in search of her mother as the gamer begins the initial stage of the quest.
Each level of the game is built with heavy-appearing, stationary blocks that are suspended in midair in front of a near-motionless background. However, even these elements are slightly animated.
The visuals, along with the slightly-annoying music at each level, give the game field of simplicity. The user’s repetitive motion and instills a rather pleasing sense of familiarity. However, the gradual level of difficulty presents itself in such a subtle way that the gamer will find himself or herself deeply ensconced in an unbeatable challenge without knowing how he or she got there.
The two fundamentals that comprise the simple structure of the game are the gamer’s ability to produce vines our of thin air, and Kiwi’s constant motion. She runs to the right until she manages to hit a wall or slide down a ramp, at which point she then runs quickly in the opposite direction, often to face eminent danger. It is the gamer’s responsibility at this point to point the remote at the screen and click the ‘A’ button. This initiates the appearance of a vine. As the gamer continues to hold down the button, he or she can click a second time to create the opposite end of the vine. Finally, when the button is released, the vine is anchored in place. The difficulty lies in the gamer’s only being allowed to have three vines on the screen at any one time. Another challenge comes in figuring out how long a vine can be stretched before it snaps.
The vines are used to help Ivy stay on the right path and out of harm as she runs through the various stages of the game.
As the little bird makes her way up stairs or comes to a gap between boulders, the gamer can use the vines to extend a bridge or create a ramp to help her on her way. Care must be taken not to anchor each vine so that Ivy can use it to propel herself upward or be flipped similarly to a pinball up entire flights of stairs.
Learning to propel Ivy in the desired direction using the vines is relatively simple at first because of the gradual difficulty curve. Engaging in ultra-fast motion can be amusing, especially as the gamer’s skill level increases and he or she becomes more proficient as players steer the bird around dangerous hazards. Sharp spikes appear on horizontal and vertical surfaces, while evil crows lurk overhead. Icy water drops fall from the ceiling and Ivy’s head must be protected by the leaves on a vine. The player must make quick decisions about whether to protect Ivy with a vine or to strategically time her advances to avoid the dangers.
The adventure created by maneuvering Ivy through her fantasy environment creates a satisfying, solid challenge as the layers unfold to create an engaging adventure.
The game packs a lot of punch at only $29.99, and has a good mix of challenging action, clever game play and unique visuals. Ivy the Kiwi can entertain ages 12 through adult, beginners through advanced levels for hours on end.