Jahanzeb Khan
15 Nov, 2010

Ivy the Kiwi? Review

DS Review | She likes to run, just like her cousin.
There was once a time when Sega was one of the biggest video game developers, developing several consoles and plenty of high quality games. The company’s success however was largely driven by several talented (now legendary) individuals such as Yu Suzuki (Virtua Fighter and Shenmue), Rieko Kodama (Phantasy Star), Yukio Futatsugi (Panzer Dragoon) and many others. However, the most iconic and well known of all was none other than Yuji Naka. You see, this man was behind all the good Sonic the Hedgehog games and was the fearless leader of Sonic Team, making sure that nothing but good games were produced. It was after he left Sega that the Sonic series became the mediocre mess that it has become today. Yuji Naka went on to start his own modest little studio called Prope, with Ivy the Kiwi? being the latest offering.

Ivy the Kiwi? is about a young kiwi chick named ‘Ivy’ (pronounced ‘Evee’) who has hatched in a forest with her mother nowhere to be seen. She immediately sets out on a journey to find her mother, while still stuck inside her eggshell. The story is really simple, adorable and it just brims with innocence. It’s like reading a children’s storybook, and the ending will bring a tear to your eye because it’s just too damn cute. Also, there’s a good reason why the title of the game has a question mark, which becomes clear during the ending sequence.

The game is a platformer featuring heavy puzzle elements and a really cool gimmick. You won’t actually control Ivy in the game as she pretty much runs blindly on her own like a lemming. Instead you have to guide her through levels by creating vines. The vines are created using the stylus and all the action takes place on the touch screen, with the top screen displaying a useful level map.

In each level players must guide Ivy to the ‘Goal’ by creating vines, while avoiding spikes, droplets of water, rats and crows. The goal is basically a three step podium and she must land on one of these steps to complete the level. There are also blocks that need to be destroyed and Ivy can drill through these, but some blocks are too tough for her to drill through and these need to be destroyed with a boulder. All these elements are mixed together in a variety of different ways in each uniquely designed level. In fact, Ivy the Kiwi? feels like a puzzle game for the most part, as you have to figure out the best way to guide Ivy quickly and safely through each stage.

Once upon a time, there was a kiwi who thought lemmings and hedgehogs were the same.

Once upon a time, there was a kiwi who thought lemmings and hedgehogs were the same.
The vine creating gimmick is basically the core gameplay mechanic, with which you can basically ‘control’ the direction of the naive little kiwi. You can stretch vines to create a path for Ivy and even swing vines to scoop her upwards. They can also protect her from droplets of water (by blocking them) and from pitfalls. The coolest thing you can do with a vine is pull it back like a slingshot in order to launch Ivy, and this makes her spin like a drill for a short time thus allowing her to destroy blocks and defeat enemies. The vine controls are extremely intuitive and work like a charm using the DS touch screen controls, but they need to be used carefully as it can take quite some time for a vine to wither and die, also they will snap/break if they are stretched too far.

The game is really fun to play, and it has a decent amount of challenge that requires players to be quick and precise. The main objective is to help Ivy reach the goal as quickly as possible as there is a very short time limit. But the game isn’t just about rushing through each stage as there is an incentive to explore and do things courtesy of the collectible feathers and the score system. You’re likely to find yourself replaying levels in order to figure out the best combination and patterns of vines that will allow you to get a high score, plus each stage has feathers that need to be collected and accomplishing all this within the time limit makes Ivy the Kiwi? extremely addictive and re-playable.

Ivy the Kiwi? has fifty levels spread across ten chapters, and upon completion of the main game a ‘Bonus’ game opens up that allows you to play modified versions of the levels. The ‘bonus’ variants of the levels have the additional requirement of finding a key in order to open a door. While all this probably gives the impression that Ivy the Kiwi? is a very big game, it’s actually really short as the main quest takes less than two hours to complete. That said, the short length isn’t really an issue as Ivy the Kiwi? is the kind of game that is meant to be played and enjoyed in short bursts.

Fact: Kiwi chicks have the strength to push massive boulders and are weak against water.

Fact: Kiwi chicks have the strength to push massive boulders and are weak against water.
Visually, Ivy the Kiwi? is a really nice looking game courtesy of its adorable and charming storybook aesthetic, which makes good use of various shades of brown. However, some may feel there is a lack of variety in style, colour and presentation. The soundtrack is good too, featuring light hearted and innocent tunes that fit nicely with the theme of the game.

Ivy the Kiwi? is actually one of the better ‘pure’ DS platformers to come out in a long time. It makes full and intuitive use of the touch screen controls. You can really feel the creativity of Yuji Naka here, showing us that he still has it in him to make a really good and creative game. Now that’s not to say that Ivy the Kiwi? is as genre bending as Sonic the Hedgehog or Nights into Dreams, and it certainly won’t become a big name franchise with sequels. But for what it’s worth, Ivy the Kiwi? is one of those fresh new ideas that the industry so desperately needs, and just because there is no franchise potential or reinvention, doesn’t mean it can’t be unique and fresh.
The Score
Ivy the Kiwi? is a charming puzzle platformer that makes intuitive use of the DS’s capabilities. It’s one of the better ‘pure’ DS platformers to come out in a long time. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
looks sickeningly adorable.
You know anything about it getting an aussie release?
3 years ago
That art style is brilliant! Looks absolutely awesome icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
i actually saw this at Jb hi fi yesterday for $28 which was pretty tempting.
3 years ago
^Well there you go! It did get a European release back in October but I havent seen it at my local JB or EB. I'l remove the 'Import' from the blurb then, thanks.

Yea $28 is a good price icon_y1.gif


It is indeed available at JB Hifi for $28, came out last week! courtesy of Rising Star games. icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
$28 bucks? Shit that is cheap. I'll have to have a look for it.
3 years ago
If you enjoyed Kirby's Canvas Curse and don't mind a little bit of Lemmings like guidance, this is a pretty great game. Although the game was a lot faster than I imagined. This little bird runs!
3 years ago
Fact: Kiwi chicks have the strength to push massive boulders and are weak against water.
I read Fat instead of Fact at first.... i was like "can they say that?"
3 years ago
Oh.. when I saw the title, for some reason I thought of "The New Zealand Story" game.. now that was some serious classic gaming.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  10/11/2010 (Confirmed)
  Rising Star Games
Year Made:

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