Reviews by unowndanger

80

A really fun platformer

unowndanger | July 6, 2013 | Review of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Plot and Gameplay (WARNING: SPOILER. GO TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO READ A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PLOT LINE.) It should also be mentioned that the game has no dialogue of any sort. It is all sound effects and visual animations. The game starts off with Giana's sister Maria pulled into a dream and Giana attempts to go after her. As you progress through the first level, you see Maria being eaten by a dragon. This essentially sets of the plot and you are given your goal, the save Maria. It is very reminiscent of the Mario Bros. series where you are Mario and you have to save Princess Peach. There is very little to the plot besides this, but no one ever said that a platformer game had to have a large plot line.

The gameplay and the mechanics the game offers are what really make it stand out. Due to the fact that Giana is in the "dream world", she is able to manipulate her physical form. She has two forms, "Punk' and "Cute". These two forms both have their own special abilities and ultimately affect the visuals and audio of the game. The two 'worlds' have stunning visuals that contrast very well with Giana's two forms, giving the game a much more vibrant and intriguing appearance. Each of Giana's forms also get their own version of the soundtrack. Cute Giana's soundtrack reflects her girly appearance and elegance with piano ballads and strings arrangements, whereas Punk Giana's soundtrack has a hard rock and metal feel to it. Both soundtracks are the same in composition, but the instruments used are different, causing the player to get a different vibe with each character.

"Cute" Giana is the more feminine of the two forms. She resides the nightmare world, where everything is much more grim and frightening. The plants are dead or rotting and the water is a putrid green. Other levels have flowing lava and molten rock while the player uses cute Giana. The enemies are portrayed as upright lizard creatures with wings. They look quite ghoulish, but like all the enemies in the game, they move in a pre- determined path. As far as her special ability is concerned, she is able to twirl and glide in the air. Although it sounds like a slightly useless ability, it works very well for this platformer. With this ability, Giana is able to glide across long distances and during the time she glides, she falls down at a slower rate. When it comes to making large jumps or avoiding spikes in rapid succession, I prefer to use Cute Giana because she is easier to manage than her Punk form in these tough situations.

Punk Giana exists in the normal dream world. This dream world strongly contradicts her punk rocker look. It is filled with bright flowers with vibrant colors and greenery. The flowers are in bright bloom, causing the level to appear pleasing to the player. The enemies Punk Giana enemies are brightly colored owls which are quite puffy. They add a very distinct visual aspect to the forest like levels and world that Punk Giana must go through. The size of these owls are a key factor to the game because it makes it easier for Giana to hit them using her ability which is a fiery dash. She is enveloped in flames and moves very fast in the direction of the player's choice. Again, this to me at first felt like a useless ability, although the visual depiction was very cool. I at first felt that I would never use Punk Giana and her ability because I preferred using the twirling ability of Cute Giana. As you progress through the game though, there are certain walls that are very close together that Punk Giana can bounce off of in succession to reach new heights, literally! Punk Giana is useful for me when I need to make large vertical advances such as jumping to a platform that is out of reach of a standard jump. Overall, both of the Giana Sisters are well balanced characters and are both useful in different scenarios.

Enough about the plot line and the characters, let us delve into something that can define a game for some, the controls. As opposed to most platformers for the PC, this game uses the arrow keys for control. They feel very natural and they work very well for this game. The A,S,D keys are also used to control the abilities and forms of Giana. A switches between the two characters, whereas S and D can be pressed to use Cute Giana and Punk Giana's abilities respectively. One thing that I was really impressed with was how fluidly the game is able to switch between Giana's two forms. There are no hiccups in the transition and the scenery and music change effortlessly without any lag or latency, something that deeply impressed me since I have seen games that have hiccups where there have to be character switches. The game is also compatible with an Xbox 360 Controller, but to me personally it did not feel as easy or natural as the keyboard, despite the fact I am an Xbox LIVE member, and have played games on the Xbox 360 for five years.

Game modes and Extras Giana Sisters offers a variety of extra game modes for the player to enjoy once they finish the campaign. They are offered Score Attack, Time Trials, Hardcore and Uber Hardcore modes. Score Attack and Time Trials are modes we are all familiar with, and their names practically give away their purpose. In Hardcore mode, there are no checkpoints, so if you die, you go right back to the beginning of the level. Uber Hardcore takes it a whole step further. If you die, your are taken back to the first level… of the whole game. For example, if you were at the end of stage 3-7 and you died by a spike, you would go right back to 1-1. Although very heartbreaking, these games modes are meant for veteran players and those who enjoy a challenge.

Final Thoughts This game feels like a modernized version of Super Mario Bros. Many people I have talked to have said that they draw various comparisons between the two such as the plot line and the abilities, but I personally do not see it all. Yes, a girl is abducted in the game and it is your goal to save her, but that is only one similarity. What was the most refreshing to me about the game were the soundtrack and the visuals. The fact that they could change were amazing and the soundtrack was stunning and fit the game perfectly. I did have a few gripes with the abilities of the characters such as Punk Giana's Dash because it seemed to have directional issues. But all the issues were little and I learned to adapt with the game. Overall it was very fun and it brought be back to the great days where people didn't need to purchase $20 of DLC to have the full game experience. Whatever came with the game was what the customer got.

(I wrote this for my blog and copied the review here. All content is my own)