The latest effort from Yuji Naka’s Prope studio is fundamentally a simple platformer where the player’s goal is to create temporary platforms for the title character. It is obviously easier said than done since Ivy is a restless bird who’s quest is to reunite with her mother, so this little kiwi is always on the move.
Told through a very brief series of storybook style drawings, Ivy’s plight is depicted with endearing cuteness as she spends her adventure with her own egg shell wrapped around her. The antiquated art style, with its reliance on brown shades is reminiscent of the well-regarded Professor Layton series on the DS. This is also the art style of the game itself which do a great deal in adding charm to a puzzle platformer that would not turn as many heads had the visuals been more traditional-looking.
The level design ensures that the player is constantly creating the aforementioned platforms which are in the form of stretchable vines. It should be noted that only three vines can appear at a given time; when the fourth vine appears, the oldest one disappears. Proper placement of these vines ensure that Ivy can traverse past enemies, gaps, deadly water and sharp spikes. In keeping to Naka-san’s 16-bit roots, Ivy does not have a health bar and dies upon contact with foes and hazards. The only protective measure is the temporary invincibility power-up that is offered periodically during this 100+ level adventure.
The player does have a couple tricks that can help Ivy get the upper hand. Even after their application, the vines can still be stretched and used as an offensive weapon. Simply wait until Ivy is on the vine, use the stylus to stretch the vine in the opposite direction of where you want Ivy to fly and then let go with the stylus. This will launch Ivy into a gravity-assisted arc and hopefully there will be some enemies in the path of this screwattack. There is also the occasional option of having Ivy push a boulder to roll over enemies. This is dependent on the player’s ability to guide Ivy to the boulder.
This platforming-on-the-fly idea is certainly nothing new, but the way Prope presents it makes for an experience that is often charming. It can have its challenging moments that occasionally border on frustrating but are certainly beatable after a few attempts. While both Wii and DS versions are solidly designed, vine-creation is slightly easier on the DS due to the direct contact between the stylus and the vines. The inclusion of two-player modes in the Wii version can make for a tough decision between formats. Just note that there is a relationship-testing versus mode where you can sabotage your opponent by drawing vines on their part of the screen.
(This review was based off a completed playthrough of the DS version and a half-completed playthrough of the Wii version. Both were provided by XSEED Games for review purposes.)
Developer: Prope Limited
Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: Nintendo Wii/DS
Released: August 24, 2010