Nobody would blame you for not playing The Great Gianna Sisters on the Commodore 64. The classic (kind of) platformer that’s known for one thing: ripping off Super Mario Bros. Even looking at Stage 1-1, it cribs it entirely. But Black Forest Games decided to take the concept and flip it on a new side.
Gianna Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a platformer similar to the original but only in genre. You watch your sister get kidnapped by an evil dream world and it’s up to you to enter in and bring her back. You’ll be jumping platforms and enemies heads in no time, yet there’s a whole other dimension to play around in.
You’ll come to notice that you can switch dimensions and in turn, switching our Gianna Sister from cute to punky. While in cute mode, the world will be in ruins with demons ruling everywhere. But if you switch to punk mode, it’ll be colourful and pretty and the demons will become gigantic birds. The switch allows you to take on new powers.
Cute Gianna will lend you to float to certain areas while Punk Gianna has a spin move for going up or down chasms or hard to reach areas. You’ll need to utilize both with constant switching since this is a pretty tough platformer.
It starts out nicely within the first world, but around the last two levels, you’ll be wanting to throw a controller in rage. Frustration will sink in once you realize it’s one hit kills. There’s a shield you can pick up but they’re few and far between and only for certain tough areas.
It’s not bad per se, since I’m always a fan of trial & error platformers. But here, it just feels like memorizing levels for the sake of frustration. You’re not really learning from your mistakes, you’re just making sure your timing is right. It doesn’t help when once you realize that you can dodge those spikes but then a random enemy flies from nowhere. You can’t properly react so you go back to the checkpoint and try, try again.
The bosses will really go for your patience if you have any left. The death tally will start to roll once you figure out the boss’ pattern after dying several times. It really drives the game down.
The real shame is while the gameplay can be lacking, the presentation is wonderful. The graphics really stand out with beauty and the music gets you fueled and in the mood for platforming. While it’s not an entirely unfair platformer with infinite lives and good checkpoints, it just doesn’t boil down to becoming fun once the difficulty spikes mid-way through the first chapter.
At $15, it might be steep. It’s been on sale a couple times on Steam and the XBLA version is pretty stable with very few graphical hitches or anything. But I’d say try it before you decide to buy it. If the trial is just a couple of the first few levels, you’ll enjoy it, but beware of the challenge ahead.