Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ivy The Kiwi [Prope] - $4.99

Ports. The AppStore is full of em. LostWinds, ESPGaluda II, Metal Slug 3, Lunar Silver Star Story… well… too many to name. For a lot of iOS gamers, these are their first experiences with the titles, but for some others, they’re very well known and loved games from the past and other gaming platforms. This week, the DSWare/DS/Wii title, Ivy The Kiwi? has been brought over, ported and published by Prope (the studio founded by Yuji Naka, creator of Sonic), the studio that developed the original, and as you might have guessed from what consoles it was released on, it’s a nice fit for the touch screen. 

I should start this off by saying that I’ve had a previous experience with Ivy. My youngest has the DS version, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into when I bought the iOS port. Though I will say that I was pretty excited to check the game out on a touch screen as sensitive as the iDevice’s rather than the DS’s screen. Now, Ivy The Kiwi? tells the story of Ivy, a little kiwi who was separated from her family before she cracked out of her egg. You’ll follow her on her journey as she tries to make her way safely through 50 levels in a quest to be reunited with her mother.  

The best way I can describe Ivy The Kiwi? is as an auto-running puzzle platformer. There are no virtual buttons, and you’re given control over vines which can be created by touching and dragging your finger across the screen. These vines can be used as springboards, platforms, protective objects and slingshots for Ivy. You’re able to have up to 3 vines within the level at a time. With these, you’re able to lift Ivy up into higher sections of a level, stop her from hitting spikes that are planted all over the stages and flick Ivy into a spin that allows her to break through certain bricks and open up pathways. 

Control-wise, Ivy definitely shows that it’s been made for Nintendo consoles. Like LostWinds, Ivy The Kiwi was clearly made for using either a touch screen or the Wii remote and, like LostWinds, it’s transferred over beautifully to the iOS. Within the 50 levels, there isn’t much variety, and just about every level up until about the last 25% of the game can be completed in about 15-20 seconds, and even though every 5 levels is in it’s own environment, they’re all basically made up of the same 4 objects, eventually managing to change color; bricks, breakable bricks, spikes and rocks. You will eventually come across mice, birds and liquid that can drip onto Ivy, but all of the levels, even with the change in background images, seem to look the same, and become a mesh of a couple long levels throughout the game. With the amount of polish that’s clearly gone into the game, it’s kind of disappointing seeing so little work go into the variation of the level’s objects and look. 

Don't get me wrong, Ivy The Kiwi is a game with charm, and a challenge, if you’re willing to take it on. Within every level, there are 10 feathers which you’ll be able to try and find. While generally, they are no where to be found on the A to B path in each level, they are spread out along pathways and in hard to reach areas in each stage. Collecting all 10 and making it to the end of the level within the time limits, besting your scores is where the challenge and fun really come in. There are also Challenge Levels; 22 levels within the game that have their own GameCenter leaderboards. Each of these levels also has a special hidden coin, helping to maximize your score, and with each level’s score dependant on how quickly you can make it through as well as how many feathers you can collect, there’s always the possibility of bettering your score, if even just by a couple points. 

Along with the 22 boards, there are also 3 more leaderboards to be found in GameCenter; Trial Stages, which is your total combined score for the 5 tutorial levels, Main Game, which is your combined score for all 50 levels, and All Score, which combines your main game score with the extra game score. The Extra Game is the same 50 levels that the main game has, but with a ramped up difficulty, which, towards the end of the original 50 main levels, is already extremely high. This extra hard difficulty is available via IAP for $2.99. On top of the leaderboards, there are also 35 achievements which you can try and unlock, including achievements for the Extra Game.

The graphics are incredibly nice, with the whole game being laid out like a children’s storybook. The story sections are pages out of the story book, and the levels have a haze around the edges of them which helps add to the feeling that everything is happening within the storybook’s world. Unfortunately, this haze also takes up some very valuable space on the smaller iPhone and iPod screens, and combined with the space needed for your fingers to draw the vines, there’s very little room to see what lies ahead, which makes most moves jumps into darkness, pretty much just hoping that you won’t hit anything that can kill Ivy before your next big jump. This is diminished a little on the bigger iPad screen, but with the camera still being zoomed in a bit too close, there’s always the feeling of ‘I better go slow or else I could die and need to restart the level again’ when making your way through the stages, which can get very frustrating with the ramp up in difficulty in the 7th world. But there’s no denying that it looks very good. 
With it’s faults, Ivy the Kiwi will have a hard time finding it’s fan base in the AppStore just like it did on Nintendo’s consoles. Priced at $4.99, but currently on sale for $2.99, it’s definitely worth the purchase if you enjoyed the game on the Wii or DS, and would like to have it on the iOS as well.  I am a bit torn as to whether or not I should recommend this one. There are gamers out there that will just love it, I'm sure, and not mind it's faults because of how entertaining it is, and others who will just downright despise it. Good news is, if you’ve never had the chance to play around with Ivy before, there is a lite version that contains a full game unlock IAP available. I do recommend you check that out and see if the controls click with you. If they do, you're in for one incredibly charming and challenging game.


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