What is the Wii Pump Up Report you might not be asking? Well, I'm gonna tell you anyways; I'm super pumped for the Wii U. Got my pre-order in and everything. But there are a lot of folks who aren't as excited. The Wii has come and gone like a distant memory, with all but a few decent titles coming out this past year. But in 2006, it was a mighty juggernaut taking the world by storm, and apart from a stingy lull after launch, it actually managed to chalk up a reasonable number of good games.
People forget, though. These days it is lauded as the "Wii Sports Console", the least memorable system of the three, with less staying power than it's competitors. This argument isn't unfair; Xbox and PS3 both still have healthy releases, where the Wii has almost completely ceased to come out with anything decent. It's a damn shame; Nintendo sold 90 Million consoles, nearly thirty million more than the competition, yet the Wii was the first to die due to weak hardware, poor first party support in its later life, and some archaic choices concerning online capabilities and the like. However, despite those things, I still have a lot of fun with my Wii, so in order to get others pumped up about the imminent release of the Wii U, I wanted to look back at some lesser celebrated titles to see what they were all about, why they were so great, and why I fap every time I think about them.
Mostly I will focus on titles either unique to the system, or which use the Wii controls in a creative way. It felt appropriate then to use one of the best feeling titles on the system, Ivy the Kiwi? by Yuji Naka of Sonic the Hedgehog fame.
Ivy the Kiwi? is a simple game with a simple story; you are Ivy, a...Kiwi? And you are unlike other Kiwi's. You don't have wings, and you are on a quest to find your mother. The actual story in the game isn't much more detailed than my little blurb; you are immediately thrust into gameplay after reading the brief synopsis of "story", and this is a good thing, because Ivy the Kiwi? is simple, platforming bliss at it's finest.
A unique, almost hand drawn art style is pretty to look at, and simple, catchy tunes will have you reliving your 8 and 16 bit days as you go through the stages chapter by chapter with one simple goal; collect ten feathers in each stage before hitting the exit podium at the end of the level. Of course, you can forgo the collectibles altogether if you just want a quick, simple play through, but at 100 stages, completing Ivy the Kiwi? will take some time either way.
Ivy moves on her own, but much like in Kirby's Canvas Curse, you will guide her by drawing vines on the screen with your Wii remote, using them to swing or even launch her across the stage as you pull back on each vine, catapulting her like a slingshot. You will also need to avoid the many enemies and spikes that the game throws at you, and the later stages become a tricky thing to survive. Ivy the Kiwi? rewards your skills as a vine slinger; the controls are fantastic and rarely finicky once you get used to them, and although the game is also available on the DS, it feels much nicer to play on the Wii due to the pointer never obstructing your view of the screen.
Ivy the Kiwi? won't really appeal to the Halo crowd; this is a simple game for a simpler time, a puzzle platformer which takes full advantage of the Wii pointer controls without ever feeling like a useless, tacked on gimmick. Simply put, there could be no better way to play Ivy the Kiwi? and that is why it is an important Wii game in my opinion; there are no mindless waggles here, no frustrating, clunky, pointless features thrown in just for the hell of it. Ivy the Kiwi? was made for the Wii and it feels like it, and that is where the system was able to truly shine. It's just a shame we didn't see a hell of a lot more of this, and that is probably why the Wii felt so lackluster after awhile.
Ivy the Kiwi? isn't perfect, but it's shortcomings are few. As some have pointed out, the limited number of enemies and rather samey looking backdrops and levels can get tiresome after a hundred levels, but most glaringly of all, Ivy the Kiwi? features no level editing feature. For a game with such simple stages and goals, this would have been a top notch addition to an already great title, and would have put it right alongside Lode Runner as some of the best platform puzzle gaming around, in my opinion. It's really too bad this feature never materialized, as it would have extended the longevity of the game for years to come among the more hardcore crowd; a hundred levels is no slouch, but the ability to create countless more would have been absolutely fantastic.
Ivy the Kiwi? was grossly overlooked, and as a bargain bin title, is definitely worth a purchase at this point. I bought my copy for 14.99 and the value was great in my opinion; as a fan of old school platformers, I felt right at home with Ivy, and it is one of my favorite Wii titles to date. Here is hoping that a sequel may someday see the light of day, on the Wii U, where it truly belongs.
And this time, PLEASE give us a level editor and the ability to share levels online! That would be so boss.