Ivy the Kiwi? is an action platformer that stars a cute and fluffy kiwi, a bird that originates from the island nation of New Zealand. Created by Yuji Naka, the lead programmer of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Ivy may not move as fast as the blue hedgehog with flashy red sneakers, but she doesn't dillydally either. This bird is constantly on the move, and it's our job to guide her to the end goal. Publisher Xseed came by our office to give us a demo of the game that is coming out on the Wii and Nintendo DS. We were quite taken by the storybook visuals and charming aesthetics, but after seeing the game in action, it seems like it can be a lot trickier than it looks.
The question behind Ivy the Kiwi is, "Is she really a kiwi?" The story begins in a quiet forest where this little ball of feathers first entered the world, but there is no mother in sight. Tearfully, she goes out in search of her mom, and that's where you come in. Her story unfolds as you play through the chapters, and you will have gone through the main storyline by the end of the first 50 stages. Ivy is always on the move and can walk only left and right while changing directions as soon as she hits a wall. The goal is to guide her to the end of each stage by drawing vines on the screen with your Wii Remote. It looks pretty simple at first, but eventually you'll need to dodge hazards and find creative ways to get Ivy to safety. After completing the first 50 levels, there are another 50 stages that will open up to you that will include objectives such as finding a key before progressing.
You can draw up to three vines at a time, and there's a limit to how far they can stretch before they snap. These decorative plants are springy, so not only are you creating a ramp or platform for Ivy to tread on, but you can always tug on one to slingshot Ivy through the air like a corkscrew to break away barriers and fend off enemies. For the most part, you'll be using these vines to swing her carefully over hurdles and keep her away from spikes because she is chugging along at a pretty decent pace. We were told that later in the game, there will be a giant boulder that you can guide to plow through the area ahead of you. Large brown feathers are strewn throughout the level, which you can collect. If you grab all 10 feathers, you can find out your score and how long it took you to beat the level.
If you find the game too hard, you can play cooperatively with up to four players, and the others can pitch in and help you draw vines for Ivy. There are also five additional multiplayer levels where you can compete against up to three of your friends in split-screen. Each level can be played in versus mode as long as you've completed it in the single-player mode, and the goal is to make it to the finish line first. In the Wii version of the game, you can also interfere with any other player's screen to make things a bit more hectic.
In the DS version, the single-player game remains the same, but there's a different multiplayer mode in which you can play with up to four people via local wireless. The top screen displays the map of the level and where your opponents are, and the goal is to grab medals and get to the finish line first.
Ivy the Kiwi? looks to be a fun yet challenging platforming adventure that is a good fit for gamers of all ages, and the cooperative functionality lets parents play with their children. The hand-drawn art style and simple soundtrack set a warm, family-friendly tone for the game, which can be appealing to a broad audience. Xseed is also planning on releasing the first 50 levels of the game on WiiWare as well as DSiWare, and we'll have more details on that later. We'll also provide a hands-on impression in the near future. Ivy the Kiwi? is currently scheduled to be released this summer.