Ivy the Kiwi? is shaping up to be an extremely fun game that Wii and DS owners should definitely keep an eye on. For those not in the know Ivy the Kiwi? is a game made by Yuji Naka and Prope and the story is of a baby Kiwi who has lost her mother named Ivy. Ivy doesn’t have any real world experience and so she just barrels forward without a care in the world in the search for her mother. The only way Ivy is going to survive the journey is with some help, and for that end the player can create vines to make bridges for Ivy to cross chasms or ceilings to protect from falling debris.
Using the pointer on the Wiimote or the stylus on the DS I was able to easily make vines and stretch and manipulate them to not only create bridges but throw Ivy into the air. Each level ends with a podium and you get different amounts of points based on how high you land on the podium similar to the flag in Mario. Getting to the end of the level in the first few stages was fairly easy but even at this early point it was quite challenging to get all the optional collectibles that litter each level.
Yuji Naka told me that his philosophy for game design is to try and make games that work for several different types of players. If you are having a rough time managing the controls you can just go for the end of the level, but if you are an old hat at Ivy the Kiwi? there are seven feathers to gather in each level and how quickly you get them earns you a bronze, silver, or gold medal.
Attentive gamers will notice that the title of Ivy the Kiwi? ends in a question mark. When I mentioned this to Yuji Naka he said that he really hopes people notice this part of the title and players who complete the 50 stages of the story will learn the reason for this unique game title, and after that you still have 50 more levels to go.
The Wii version has a competitive mode that I played against Mr. Naka and an Xseed representative where you each have your own Ivy and you can make vines on your part of the screen to help your Ivy along or if you’re feeling more devious it is possible to draw vines on your opponents’ part of the screen. Sadly even though I blocked Yuji several times he still beat me handedly.
Another important note is that the graphics are beautiful. The backgrounds reminded me of the visuals in Valkyria Chronicles with noticeable lines that make it look hand drawn.
I had a great time with Ivy the Kiwi? and I’m looking forward to finding out what the question mark means on April 22. Hopefully next time I play Yuji I’ll finally live up to my dream of beating a developer at his own game while he’s in the same room.