I was there, fighting on the barricades. Debating wildly with my arms flailing. It was the battle of battles, the war of all wars. It was The Great Giana Sisters fans versus Super Mario Bros Fans mouthing off. Mario was first, and it is no point trying to ignore the fact that The Great Giana Sisters takes a lot of inspiration from Super Mario Bros. I say inspiration whereas the Super Mario Fans claimed clone copy. This battle was fought in the late 80s, and the question is if it will spark up once again.
Being an old The Great Giana Sisters fan I am somewhat biased in the war. I can’t ignore the fact that the plumbers have made a better career out of their jumping and block breaking antics than Maria and Giana. I sat in the sofa playing Giana Sisters on my iPhone with my wife playing New Super Mario Bros for the Wii in the background. No matter how I look at it the red and green Italian are miles ahead of the punk sisters. But that is not relevant as we will never get the Nintendo flagship characters for our iPhones.(unless of course you count the apps using the Nintendo characters until they get pulled from the store)
The new Giana Sisters is a really polished product from Armin Gessert who created the original 20 years ago. This was also the last project Armin was involved with as he passed away in November of 2009. In a way Giana Sisters can be seen as a tribute to both my childhood memories, and to the man who was a part of them as the creator of Giana Sisters. Giana Sisters stays true to the original yet comes with completely revamped graphics. I love to see retro games remade instead of just slapped onto the iPhone with new controls. The main mode of the game comes with 80 brand new levels. Once those have been cracked you get to play 32 retro levels. Good golly, I am in retro heaven!
There are two control options available: Classic and Touch. The Classic controls give you a left/right arrow controller to the left, a jump button on the right next to a fire button. It takes some getting used to as the arrows are quite small. The Touch controls give you the left/right arrow buttons at opposite sides of the screen. When running right, and touching the left arrow Giana/Maria jumps. Fire is done by tapping between the arrows. I could not learn to play using this method. It worked for a puzzle game like :Shift: but I need a bit more precision in Giana Sisters. Giana Sisters is not the most demanding platformer when it comes to precision jumping though, and the controls are good enough for the challenges it throws my way. To look up and down, simply drag up and down in the middle of the screen.
The Giana Sisters start in a weak state unable to shoot fireballs or break blocks. When you pick up a punk ball the Giana Sister changes into a fire throwing punk able to break blocks with her head. Crystals are scattered throughout the levels, and you get an extra life as soon as you get 100 blue crystals. Red crystals are limited, and to really complete a level you have to collect the number indicated on the screen. Stomping, and shooting enemies in your way is a part of everyday life for the sisters. The likeness to the gameplay in Super Mario Bros is evident, but the Giana Sisters aren’t as agile. Hey punks tend to hang out smoking, and jumping isn’t really what I associate with them.
The levels in Giana Sisters are quite straightforward, and there isn’t that much exploration to be done. New enemies are introduced, and the gameplay leans a bit more towards action instead of precision jumping. At times you will reach really hard sections, but overall the game has a good level of challenge throughout.
The music has always been an important part of the Giana Sisters universe. I have been listening to remixed versions of the original SID soundtrack for years. The music in the new Giana Sisters is a remake of the original, and at times I get chills as I can hear parts of the original shining through. Sound effects are the original ones, and I wasn’t too keen on them back in the day. Nowadays I find them quite nice, and I have no problem hearing the breaking boulder sound 20 times in a row. You can also create your own playlist within the game to listen to your own stuff.
Giana Sisters is definitely a worthy addition to your game library. If you are new to the sisters you will definitely enjoy it. If you are an old fan you have probably already bought it. With online scores, and achievements through OpenFeint gamelife the game turns into a complete package. To me Giana Sisters is among the best platform games for the iPhone alongside Soosiz and Earthworm Jim.