The Great Giana Sisters has an interesting history behind it. Originally designed for European computers back in the mid to late 80’s, the first game looked and played VERY suspiciously like the original Super Mario Bros. So much so that it’s rumored that Nintendo even requested they cease releasing the game, which is why many people in the US aren’t familiar with the title. But Nintendo didn’t stop them from making a Giana Sisters DS game a few years ago, even though it, too, was very similar to Mario’s games. But now thanks to a successful kickstarter program, the newest game in the Giana Sisters series is here, and it has a gameplay twist all its own. You can download it on the three major current game consoles and PC (Wii U version reviewed here).
In the new game, Giana must save her sister who has been whisked away to a dream world by a huge dragon. In the dream world, Giana has the ability to change into two different versions of herself at will, each with her own skills and abilities. Cute Giana can twirl to slow down her descent after a jump. But Punk Giana has a fiery charge attack, useful for defeating enemies, breaking bricks, and bouncing off walls. Both can jump and stomp on enemies. If you try to use a skill that belongs to the other version of Giana, you’ll automatically switch to that form.
But it’s not just Giana who changes when she switches forms. The whole world around her does, too! As you switch, the world around her changes from a dark and scary nightmare world to a bright green meadow world and back again. Some obstacles, platforms, and collectable gems only appear in one of these worlds, so you must not only switch forms to use the required skills, but also to react to the environment as well. You’ll encounter some pretty creative platforming and tough boss fights using this mechanic.
You get unlimited lives, but you are rated at the end of the level with stars, and if you can go through the levels without dying too many times, you’ll earn a star. Collecting gems will also increase your score, and finding secret hidden large gems will unlock concept art in the gallery. Earning stars also unlocks new levels and modes, such as Time Attack, Score Attack, and the tougher Hardcore Mode. There is also an Easy Mode, but you won’t unlock anything with it.
The graphics are lush and detailed, and it’s just cool to switch worlds and watch the scenery change seamlessly. Only problem is there aren’t a wide variety of levels. Just green meadows, mine caves, and castles. But then, the original game was like that, too. Only other problem I had with the game is that for some of the more difficult and precise obstacles and jumps, the play control made it a little tougher because it’s just a teeny bit loose. But otherwise this is great 2-D platforming with excellent graphics, music, and gameplay. Definitely check it out if you like these kinds of games.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence. You can stomp or charge into enemies to defeat them, but they just fall over or disappear in a puff of feathers. If your character gets hit, they just warp back to the last checkpoint. Reading skill isn’t needed to play, as all the instructions are told with picture cues. But younger gamers may get frustrated with the difficulty, as even on the easiest setting, the game is still pretty hard. But it’s still a very fun and high quality 2-D platformer nonetheless.