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Ivy the Kiwi?

Kiwi aren't gonna take it any more

Flightless birds aren't exactly known for their migratory habits, but that hasn't stopped Ivy the Kiwi from completing her long journey west.

We played the Japanese version at the World's Fair back in 1896 (Oh okay, back in April) and, like the miracle tonic that seemed to cure our crippling baldness, we were struck by the game's humble charms.

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It's several months down the line, however, and we're experiencing multiple disappointments. Our new 'hair' turned out to be a serious fungal infection, while our return to Ivy's quest leaves us feeling strangely cold.

It's the same game - which is part of the problem. For the US release, the monochromatic backgrounds have been remade in glorious Technicolor, which not only makes it look a hell of a lot nicer, but also makes it easier to distinguish the various background elements and prevent the entire game from looking like one unbroken, bland, yellowy smudge.

As for the UK release? Well, disappointingly, it retains that yellowy smudge.

FLIPPING THE BIRD
The long wait has made an already slight game seem even leaner. The concept - guide a cute bird to the end of each hazard-filled stage by drawing vines in mid-air, occasionally flicking them to turn her into a sort of bird-rocket - is mechanically sound.

However, the idea goes nowhere, content to paddle in shallow waters rather than risk the murky depths of the Sea of Invention.

Acquiring every feather in each stage will require serious dedication and Zen-like calm to transcend the frustrations of one-hit deaths, but if you're sane enough not to bother you'll whisk through the mostly easy levels in no time flat.

Once you've exhausted the game - or, more likely, the game has exhausted you - there's little reason to return, unless you live for the sheer thrill of peering down at mere mortals from your perch at the summit of a leaderboard.

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This is not the only version of Ivy The Kiwi? (Once again, the inappropriate question mark isn't our doing. But we like how the game is so unsure of itself.) - it's also out on DS, DSiWare and WiiWare.

And though the digital versions only have half the levels and no multiplayer mode, we can't help but feel the download format's a much better a fit for the game's miniscule scale.

It's easy to love Ivy if you play it for five minutes, but it just doesn't reward over the long term. Although the craft that's gone into designing the concept is evident, it needed someone to inject some ideas into what is, sadly, a novel but intellectually barren game.

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The verdict

6
Format
Nintendo Wii
Developer
Prope
Publisher
Rising Star
Genre
Platformer

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