Once upon a time there was a wise, fair and modestly handsome reviewer. One day, while exploring the magical land of video games, he found a newly hatched baby bird.
“Eee-vee!” the bird chirped with such diction as to not evoke the wrath of Pokemon Company lawyers.
The bird’s name was Ivy, star of the game Ivy the Kiwi?, and as the reviewer picked up her game, he discovered she was a lost little hatchling trying to find her way home to her mother.
“What an adorable children’s fairy tale trope you are!” the reviewer said to Ivy.
“Eee-vee!” Ivy chirped.
The reviewer soon learned that while Ivy was brave little bird, she was not very bright, blindly skipping ahead in a direction until she would hit an obstacle and turn around. Luckily, the reviewer could create up to four vines on the screen at once, guiding Ivy to a goal in each of her 50 stages.
With a child-like aesthetic and line-drawing mechanic, the reviewer could not help but think his new avian friend was trying to pull some crap on him by copping Kirby’s Canvas Curse. But as he continued playing, the reviewer soon realized that stretching and moving the vines added a pleasing sense of momentum to the action. The ease with which the Wii Remote controlled the vines only added to the joy.
“It’s pretty fun tossing you around like this!” the reviewer beamed, right before he accidentally catapulted Ivy into a wall of menacing spikes.
“Ee-veeeee…” Ivy cried.
“Yeesh; sorry!” the reviewer apologized. “Unfortunately, you were made by the same guy who made Sonic. I think he has some strange attraction to pointy things.”
As Ivy and the reviewer journeyed on, they shared some entertainingly frenetic moments making lines of split decisions to keep the young bird’s adorable little tailfeathers from becoming consumed by the gaping maw of impending doom. Other living enemies such as rats and crows were introduced, but the reviewer found that by pulling on the vines and snapping them back into place, he could launch Ivy and turn her into a twirling deathdrill, piercing the hearts of her enemies with her long, pointed beak.
“Whee!” the reviewer shouted.
“Eeee!” Ivy exclaimed.
Later into their journey, however, the reviewer began to become a bit frustrated. Some stages required the reviewer to transport a rock along with Ivy, which proved quite cumbersome. The journey also began to reach a point where there was little new introduced to the stages except a sadistic number of hazards to make them endearing little deathtraps. Had it not been for an easily maintainable stock of extra lives by collecting feathers dotting every stage, the tale would surely have come to an end sooner.
Upon the end of their journey, the duo learned a second set of 50 stages had been unlocked; this time requiring Ivy to find a key in order to clear the goal.
“Eeee-vee?!” Ivy said.
“Yeah; ‘fraid so, kiddo,” the reviewer replied.
In the end, the reviewer decided Ivy and her game had a lot of charm and pick-up-and-play ease to make them quite engaging, but became deceptively stressful toward the end in a way that might put people attracted by that ease off. On the same page, their purposeful simplicity give them a pleasantly refreshing personality in one respect compared to games that try too hard, but it would have been nice to have seen them expand a little more in character and level design as the journey progressed.
“Farewell, Ivy!” the reviewer said, waving goodbye to his new friend. “You’re not a bad bird at all, really. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to spread your wings in the future!”
“Eeee-vee!” Ivy sang back, right before walking headlong into a pit of spikes.
Ivy the Kiwi? is rated E and is available for the Nintendo Wii and DS with a “mini” version slated through digital outlets. Story based on 4 hours of play with the Wii version.