When the Giana Sisters made their return in Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams you’d be forgiven for questioning just who they are, and what have they returned from? The answer is they’ve made a big return from the hell of being a Mario clone. In the days when Super Mario Bros. was a big game the Giana Sisters made their name known on the C64, Amiga and Atari ST, until that is Nintendo’s lawyers flexed their muscles and the Sisters vanished from computer screens.
We probably would never have heard of the Giana Sisters again if it was not for Kickstarter and the surprise success of the campaign to fund a comeback. So here we are now, the Giana Sisters are back and back in a big way. The question is do we really need a remake of an old Super Mario Bros. clone and does it have what it takes in the modern gaming world?
Giana and Maria are the Giana sister. Entering a dream world, Maria is abducted by a dragon and it’s up to Giana to save her. It’s a simplistic and somewhat cliché storyline but even if it falls into the “damsel in distress” category, there can’t be any complaints that the main character is male though, this is all about girl power (or should that be sister power?), even if Giana is a slightly strange character in herself.
The basic gameplay is an average 2D platform game, but on top of this we have a few new and nice touches. This is no longer a Super Mario Bros. clone but something closer to Trine, which is more advanced and puzzle based using different characters and their abilities to make their way through the levels. In Giana Sisters Giana has telekinesis style powers, and the ability to switch between personas while dreaming. This means that Giana can be “Cute” at times and “Punk” at others, which offers not only different abilities but also the ability to collect specific coloured gems.
Also of interest with the dual personas is the difference in the background based on the version of Giana that is in control at that time. When Giana is in cute mode the background is meant to be scarier and menacing, when she’s in punk mode things turn all happy and full of joy. The idea as with Trine is that based on the “character” of Giana her abilities will help her through the level.
Graphics & Sound
With the two different realities that Giana creates the levels are quite varied and the graphics pretty, even in the nightmare version. The textures are well defined but I’d say the more striking of the worlds is the nightmare version as more imagination arguably goes into making the levels that much more dramatic. As the two world morph based on the character though the design is quite inventive and pushes the game to be more interesting.
As with the graphics there is a duality in the soundtrack too. In one world the music is calm and instrumental and peaceful, where in the other it’s more heavy metal. The heavy metal side of things is taken care by a Swedish band Machinae Supremacy which is for the cute world, where the darker world goes for the instrumental, which is quite creepy at times. It further pushes the split between the two sides of Giana and works well with the game.
At only 1,200 Microsoft Points it’s not like Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is going to break the bank. It looks good and is enough of a challenge to keep you playing at least for a while. Xbox Live Arcade games aren’t made to be major releases that last for long, they are (as the name suggests) arcade style and to only be more than a few hours in length. Independent games tend to fare will with this model as is the case with Giana Sisters, arguably the game does everything that is asked of it. What it also shows is that fairly obscure retro games that are thought to be long since forgotten can be brought back with a well thought out Kickstarter campaign, which is a good sign for not only fans of retro, but the gaming community as a whole.