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Giana Sisters DS
Giana Sisters DS

Genre: Platform Players: 1 to 0
Developer: Spellbound
Publisher: dtp entertainment Classification: G
Giana Sisters DS Review
Review By @ 02:19pm 05/08/09
Usually when a game is overtly German, that's a very bad thing. Everyone is familiar with Germany's dark side: National Socialism, poop fetishists, and videogames with eye-straining graphics and too much micro-management. But there are some things the Germans do better than anyone else: beers, gear boxes, and sinister fairy tales. It's the spirit of the Brothers Grimm that lives on in Giana Sisters DS. This is a platforming portal into truly twisted fantasy, with none of that Disney rot.

The jump-and-run gameplay is self explanatory. You run, and you jump, and you try to reach the exit before time runs out. Jumping under certain blocks will add diamonds to your tally, and occasionally trigger a power up. Once in 'Punk Giana' mode, our plucky heroine can smash through the blocks she head-butts, and gains the power to shoot fireballs as an alternative to jumping on enemies to kill them.

So far, it sounds like a knock-off of classic Mario — yet there's a lot more to it than that. A real sense of atmosphere comes across, one that cannot be conveyed in mere screenshots. As you explore the twisted, secret-riddled levels, the visuals start to dig grooves of nostalgic melancholy in your mind. The melodic minor-key soundtrack, adapted from a score by legendary composer Chris Hülsbeck, compounds the effect. The tiny bitmaps of the monsters impart genuine malice, and Giana herself seems to gaze in wonder at this dream world she's trapped in...

The audio and visuals are slick, yet the developers have shown a merciful contempt for the novelty features of the DS. For example, at certain points Giana can chew some gum, and encase herself in a bubble to drift through platform-devoid areas. The default setting obliges you to blow on the microphone to keep her airborne, but you can (and should) turn off that option so you can use the superior controls of the D-Pad.

The game design is focused to a fault. There are no multiplayer modes to skew the balance, and the much-loved homing shot upgrade from the first game has been left out — it will be missed, though we concede it probably would have been over-powered in this new setting. As for bonus content, if you complete the game (and all bonus zones) without running out of lives, you unlock a complete recreation of the 1987 original, The Great Giana Sisters. Thanks to the steeply ramping difficulty, this is no mean feat.

While we're on the topic, the emergence the Giana Sisters on a Nintendo platform is a landmark victory for common sense. For those who came in late, The Great Giana Sisters is a name that lives in infamy. When Rainbow Arts first released it on the Commodore 64, Amiga, and ST, Nintendo's lawyers went into a frenzy. The game was pulled from store shelves. Punters were outraged — and rightly so. The alleged similarities to Super Mario Bros. were superficial, and in many ways this cheekily-titled product was the superior game.

But that's all the past. The Germans and the Japanese have reconciled their differences, and this new Axis of Awesome has brought Giana Sisters to the most popular game system on the planet. 80s veterans will be relieved to know that this remake is every bit as good as the original, and brings fresh innovation to a beloved classic. As for everyone else, all you need to know is that this is one of the best DS games money can buy.
What we liked
  • Straightforward, yet addictive platforming gameplay
  • Twisted fairy tale graphics
  • Great music, with a hint of chiptunes
  • A fitting remake
What we didn't like
  • The ricochet and homing fireball upgrades from the original are gone
  • Since it's strictly single-player, Maria doesn't make an appearance.
  • We only get to meet Giana's alter ego, Punk Giana
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 03:23pm 05/8/09
So it's finally made our shores? Nice.

What did you think of it Steve? or not your Fort ?
Posted 04:52pm 05/8/09
Nice, giana sisters was realy hard, or at least it was when I was playing it when I was 8 on my commodore 64.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 05:47pm 05/8/09
I haven't played it darkjedi - from james' review though, I'm pretty keen
Posted 08:56pm 05/8/09

I loved this game on the Amiga.
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