Giana Sisters 2D is a painfully dull platformer. More specifically it is a PC port of Giana Sisters DS, which itself was a reboot for a 1987 Commodore 64 title called “The Great Giana Sisters.” Now it goes without saying that most 2D platformers have been inspired by Super Mario Bros 1 in some way, but The Great Giana Sisters was so much of a blatant ripoff that Nintendo threatened to sue its developers if they didn’t pull the game from shelves, to which they actually complied and removed it.
Of course, this was decades before Steam Greenlight/Direct became a thing and allowed any old shovelware onto the system if the developers either got enough votes or coughed up enough dough (likely as a way of weeding out games that would not make enough to break even on the $200 submission fee, but most of these developers can’t count that high so it didn’t work), and compared to those games Giana Sisters 2D actually IS Super Mario Bros 1. Unfortunately this is only because Giana Sisters 2D is at least remotely playable and has had at least a few moments that slowly teetered on the edge of being fun.
And let me just say that I recently have replayed Super Mario Bros 1 and the difference in quality is as different as night and methamphetamine. Super Mario Bros 1, despite being made over a decade ago and on vastly inferior hardware, is infinitely more fun to play than this half assed reboot of an already half assed knockoff, and the reason why is because Nintendo understood that there needs to be some sort of challenge factor in 2D platformers.
Super Mario Bros 1 looks easy when watching someone else play it, but once you start playing it yourself you find yourself repeatedly making simple mistakes like jumping before you gain enough momentum, smacking into the side of an enemy, or getting hit by a koopa shell on the rebound. The gameplay is simple but it keeps you on your toes and requires you to not just rush on through without paying attention. You also needed to start each world over from the beginning if you ran out of lives (and that’s only if you know to hold A while selecting continue).
In Giana Sisters 2D you just start back at the beginning of the level you lost on if you run out of lives, and considering how short these levels are this practically means nothing. Giana always moves at the same speed and there is no momentum or inertia involved when jumping. This removes a vast majority of the risk from each level and makes them overly simplistic and easy. Enemies are never grouped in patterns that pose any serious threat either.
I finished about 6 worlds each made up of about 9 or 10 levels before I got sick of this game and maybe two of them put up any sort of challenge, and those ones were the bonus levels. Instead the “depth” of the gameplay comes from finding hidden red gems in each level. I say “depth” loosely because a majority of these gems are available in plain view and require no significant effort to obtain. I never cared too much for the practice of inserting collectibles into linear stages to begin with given that it either amounts to padding out easy levels or making difficult levels even more frustrating, but I’m pretty sure the idea is to actually HIDE the red gems. At least the few gems that were hidden made for the closest moments the game ever came to being fun. Unfortunately there is not even a decent reward in game since they just unlock a bonus level in each world that gives you a assload of totally not coins so you can stock up on lives which have already been established to be worthless.
The gameplay of Giana Sisters 2D is mindlessly dull after the first five minutes and nearly everything is lifted from Super Mario Bros 1 without any of the talent. It’s easier for me to list mechanics that WEREN’T in Super Mario Bros 1. Well uhhh… there is a bubble powerup that allows you to float by mashing the jump button, and there is a powerup that lets you destroy brick walls without jumping. Oh did I say powerups? I meant one time use items that infinitely respawn and are always placed right in front of where you need to use them. Remarkable!
But let’s talk about the presentation. The art style, like everything else in this game, lacks any sort of creativity or expression. It’s as dull and lifeless as can be and it looks like something out of a flash game. And this was released as a RETAIL DS game for fucks sake! Other little details present in Super Mario Bros 1 like Mario’s fist pointing upward when he jumps have no such equivalent in Giana Sisters 2D leaving it looking like Giana is just bashing her head against brick blocks repeatedly. Sound effects also fail to make anything feel impactful and the arrangements of the admittedly badass Commodore 64 game’s tracks are used with the cheapest and most generic synth choices possible.
Yep, this game does not even exceed the quality of the low bar set for the mediocre Commodore 64 title either, which just makes it worse since Bitfield GmbH thought it was better to recreate the original Commodore 64 game with the assets of Giana Sisters DS rather than just including the original game. Okay yes the gameplay is still the same but the sound and visuals of the original were greatly superior, which is sad considering that defeats the point of a remake.
But yeah, Giana Sisters DOES have somewhat of a cult following. In regards to the original Commodore 64 game I can at least understand given the time period and the fact that PCs did not have their answer to Super Mario Bros at the time as far as I know. This reboot however… is garbage. It’s no surprise that the DS version was published by companies that specialize in low budget shovelware targeted at you kids and confused parents, and that I would imagine a PC version was only created due to the success of the Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Kickstarter.
The difference is that Twisted Dreams actually looks like a good game and is definitely something I would to cover in the future, while Giana Sisters 2D is a soulless attempt to cash in on an old game that some people heard of but few actually liked. So THAT’S where they got the idea to reboot Bubsy and Shaq-Fu from! Now that I think about though, BOTH those reboots still look more capable than Giana Sisters 2D, and that is setting the bar really fucking low!
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