Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: Ivy the Kiwi?

Well, here’s a game I would clump in the, “It’s not for everybody” pile. It’s also a game I would clump in the "Some people are going to adore this game" pile. Ivy the Kiwi?, created by Yuji Naka, the mastermind who created Sonic the Hedgehog, is definitely a polarizing experience that some people will totally adore while others will loathe beyond belief. It really all depends on what you’re looking for in a puzzler, as this game can be extremely frustrating if you’re the type of person who wants total control of your character. Others will probably like how helpless your character is and how you yourself act as a sort of a god hand to guide your character to safety. The most direct comparison I can give it is Kirby: Canvas Curse for the DS, but that game is way more action-oriented than this one, which again, might be a turn-off for some right off the bat.

You take on the role of Ivy, a Kiwi who can’t fly and basically can’t do anything for herself but walk back and forth like an idiot. It’s your mission to string out vines (up to three at a time) that will help guide her on her way to the finish line, and the further you advance in the game, the more and more obstacles get in your way. When you first start out, your greatest perils are spikes but later on, you’ll have to deal with rats, water drops and crows that will do their best to give you a headache. Your only means of defense are the vines, which you can stretch out to stop Ivy in her tracks or even pull back like a sling shot to aim her at rats or rocks that get in your path. You’re screwed when it comes to the crows, though, as nothing can stop crows, in this game or in real life.

But what makes this game frustrating and what’s going to make some people curse out loud and wave many a fist is the fact that Ivy never stops moving, so you’re constantly in a mad dash to throw vines together in order to make her leap over a crow, or catapult past a row of spikes or any of the other obstacles that get in your way. And this is where some gamers are just going to wish that they could control Ivy herself instead of guiding her to safety. It’s certainly not the kind of game that everybody’s going to flock to. In fact, I can actually see a specific audience liking this game, and I’m going to call it the Angry Birds community. If you don’t know what Angry Birds is, it’s a puzzle game for the iPhone where you have to knock down structures and crush pigs with a variety of birds. For each level, you’re limited to what kind of bird you can use, so basically, you have to figure out the best way to knock down the structures with the birds the level gives you even though you may not like some of the birds that they give you at all. Well, for some gamers, Ivy may be that bird that you just don’t like and wish that you had a more proficient one to guide along for your journey.

Still, I’m just trying to see this game from the other point of view. After playing it for awhile and getting the hang of it, I have to say, I kind of enjoy it. There are 100 levels in here, so you won’t get tired of it anytime soon if you’re really into it. It’s still not the kind of title that I would recommend for everybody but it’s a cutesy kind of game that has a lot going for it. Give it one extra point if you’re in that Angry Birds community I was mentioning before.

Players: 1-4
Platform(s): Wii, DS, Windows Mobile
Developer: Prope
Publisher: XSeed Games
ESRB: Everyone
Rating: Three stars

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