Yuji Naka will forever be known as the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, regardless of how many other people were on the team and regardless of where the series goes from here. But the man has his own company now (Prope), and is moving on to new projects, such as last year's Let's Tap for Wii. Next up for Prope is Ivy the Kiwi, which trades spiny mammals for spiny birds and speed for… penmanship? It’s a Wii and Nintendo DS platformer that resembles classics such as Kirby's Canvas Curse and “casual” smash hit Line Rider – you draw lines on the screen for Ivy to walk on.
Above: Screens from the Wii version
Straight lines are easily drawn on both Nintendo DS and Wii, and you're able to have up to three onscreen at any time. When you draw a new line, the oldest is removed. Ivy moves on her own without your input, and it's your goal to direct her over obstacles and in the direction of pick-ups and the end podium in each stage. Lines can simply be drawn and left as-is on the screen, or you can vault Ivy forward by rotating a line before finishing its creation.
Additionally, although kiwis are ground-bound in real life, Ivy has a propulsive way around that predicament. She can be launched in any direction by pulling and flicking any existing line, which helps with grabbing pick-ups and breaking a special block in each level. One hit to Ivy ends the stage, so you'll need to be ever vigilant in your quest to bring the flightless little lady to the end without falling into traps.
Each version of the game includes 100 stages, while the Wii version includes four-player co-op that allows for 12 simultaneous on-screen lines, as well as a four-player competitive mode. The DS version loses the co-op, but picks up an extra versus mode in its place.
We’re not yet convinced the simple gameplay has the staying power it needs to become a classic, and Ivy should never challenge any blue hedgehogs she meets to a footrace, but this budget title’s charming, storybook-like visual approach, straightforward mechanics and colorful aesthetic should win it at least a few fans when it drops later this summer.
Jul 14, 2010