Price: $2.99 (Free Version Available)
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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Game Controls Rating:
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Ivy the Kiwi? follows the the mishaps of an innocent bird as she stumbles through a storybook world in an attempt to reunite with her mother. Zipping forward innocently, Ivy is all at once well-meaning and clumsy: words which ultimately describe the uneven experience of aiding in her quest.
Well received overall on the Wii and Nintendo DS, the auto-running platformer has made the jump to mobile, where the hand wave and stylus scrawl have been replaced by the ubiquitous finger swipe. A swipe which players use to draw vines that support and propel Ivy across 50 levels filled with spikes to avoid and precious feathers to collect. At least in theory.
With Ivy running unconstrained until she hits an obstacle and turns around, vines quickly become both platforms and walls. Inexplicably, however, the game imposes a limit of three swipes, and leaves no gestural way to clear out unwanted flora, except to draw more. Almost immediately, levels become a cacophony of inelegant finger motions: a bumbling metagame to get rid of vines painting Ivy into a corner by wasting swipes to cycle through the limit. More often than not, the ensuing tangle leaves the poor bird more trapped than ever or sees her wandering off unintended. This is to say nothing of the plethora of misregistered slingshot pulls, and accidental vine generation. What could have been seamless and elegant is an exercise in futility...one step forward, two steps back.
In light of the control issues, otherwise serviceable level design proves frustrating. The ten feathers that are strewn throughout each stage are often located behind tight crevices or placed expectantly out of the way, as if making the journey is a fun challenge. Prope commits a cardinal sin of design: setting up expectations for the player it doesn’t equip them to meet. Far from a gauntlet, the feathers quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. In reflection, a sad but succinct descriptor for a game set in such a pleasant, hand-crafted world. A lively, poorly written storybook.
Ivy the Kiwi? is a clear indicator if there ever was one: there is a big difference between games on phones and tablets, and games made for them. The price tag may be lower, but take our word for it: try the free trial first, and consider going ‘retro’ if you’re intrigued.