Ivy the Kiwi Review

Bird is the word in this cute platformer

Ivy the Kiwi Review
19th November, 2010 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Ivy the Kiwi?
Ivy the Kiwi? Boxart
Publisher: XSEED
Developer: Prope
Players: 1
Available On: DS
Genre: Platform (2D)

Poor old Ivy. She hasn't had much luck in life. A modern day ugly duckling story, the bright red kiwi was born without knowing who her parents were, and cast aside by a bunch of cosmetically fixated feathered friends. Not sure of her role in life, or even her origins, Ivy the Kiwi decides to take matters into her own hands, and so sets off on an epic adventure in this cute DS platformer.

Ivy the Kiwi? Screenshot

See, that's never gonna work.

In terms of controls, Ivy the Kiwi takes a bit of a different approach, as you don't actually control Ivy herself. Instead, Ivy marches ever forwards, unrelenting in her pace, and it's up to you to draw lines across the screen - that just happen to be made out of Ivy - for her to walk across. It's a control scheme that takes some getting used to, as when you first start playing, you'll undoubtedly draw a slight diagonal line across the screen, starting from just above the blocky platform, up onto a ledge. The only problem is, Ivy, the daft bird, can't actually climb, not even up the tiny, tiny bit of Ivy that'll be poking up above the platform. Instead, the best way to get Ivy through the levels is either to start your ivy branches in the middle of the platform - so there's no ledge for Ivy to get in a fluster about - or simply swing your stylus in a clockwise motion, drawing a piece of ivy around the screen, and dragging Ivy with you.

But despite its cute looks, Ivy the Kiwi is anything but an easy game. While the later levels have few opportunities for you to go wrong, later levels "spice" things up a bit, with spikes, drips of water (which inexplicably kill you), and even enemies for you to face - many of which can move straight past your ivy as if it didn't exist, so there'll be no roping them off in the corner while Ivy marches past. As you may imagine, when you've got several enemies closing in on you, and a kiwi who just won't stop moving, things can get pretty frantic as you try to keep Ivy safe, and away from the bad guys, as you formulate a plan to get past them.

Ivy the Kiwi? Screenshot

LOOK OUT - oh, too late.

At any one time, you can only have a maximum of three pieces of ivy on screen, and this forces you to be a lot more careful and strategic with your placement. It also makes things a lot more frantic, as you're unlikely to ever get a piece of ivy in exactly the place you want it on first try - and with every new piece of ivy you draw, the earliest one will disappear, which often leads to the platform you've drawn for Ivy disappearing, or a bunch of enemies suddenly getting free. Even more frustrating, perhaps, is how there's no way to delete pieces of ivy you've drawn onto the screen - the only way you can get rid of a strand is by drawing more than three pieces of ivy. When you're dealing with long strands that go across the screen, it can get very confusing, and it'd be a lot easier if you could either press a button, or select a piece of ivy you want to get rid of.

There's plenty to do here, as well - with over fifty levels in the story mode to complete, and a bonus, remix mode you unlock afterwards, which shuffles the levels around a bit, and makes it so you have to find a key somewhere in the level if you want to reach the exit, it's a game that's bound to take up a good chunk of your time - if only because you'll find yourself restarting the levels a lot as you die. For collectable fanatics, too, Ivy will appeal, as there are ten red feathers hidden in each level - and collecting them, and reaching the exit before you run out of time will push you to the limit.

Ivy the Kiwi? Screenshot

Guiding Ivy's hard enough - when you've got to try and move a boulder, too, things get really crazy.

As a platformer itself, ivy isn't bad, and it introduces a number of unusual concepts for guiding your bird around the screen. The only problem is, it's incredibly hard, and that may well be a barrier for some people. Out of three people we tested, only one actually had that much luck with it to begin with, with the others failing at the first hurdle, until they put a lot of practice into it. If it had an adjustable difficulty level, which reduced the speed Ivy walks at, and also made it so she could take more than one collision with a bad guy before she died (and possibly even increased the amount of vines you could draw), then Ivy would be a much more accessible prospect.

As it stands, Ivy the Kiwi is a good, solid platformer - but if you want to get the most out of it, you'd better be prepared to put some practice in.

Format Reviewed: Nintendo DS

StarStarStarEmpty starEmpty star
Entertaining - just be wary of what you're getting into!
  • +
    Platforming that'll make you think.
  • +
    Interesting ideas.
  • +
    Plenty of collectibles.
  • -
    No adjustable difficulty.
  • -
    Frustrating in the later levels.
  • -
    Gets a bit samey later on.
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