4cr Plays – Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams
As you can tell from all the features we’ve created on Kickstarter projects, the platform is here to stay and is turning into a great option for indie developers that have an idea but need the funds to make it a reality. This was the case with Black Forest Games and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams which had a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 for what was then called Project Giana, raising a total of $186,158. It’s worth noting that not all of those funds are used to cover the development costs for a game. Five percent go to Kickstarter as a fee and another 5% is collected by Amazon Payments for helping sort the payments from pledges once a campaign is over. On top of that there is the often tricky process of figuring out the cost for domestic and international shipping on any physical rewards.
Having said that, Black Forest Games properly managed all the funds they secured for actual game development and they successfully released Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams on PC and other platforms. It is now the Wii U’s turn to receive this dark but colorful platforming gem that rewards those that like to play hard-but-fair platformers.
For those of you that don’t know the Giana Sisters, here’s a short explanation by Black Forest Games:
“Project Giana is the grandchild of The Great Giana Sisters, a Super Mario Bros clone made by the now-deceased founder of our company in the eighties. Of course, Nintendo didn’t like that, and the sisters got pulled off the shelves. That’s ancient history now, and, in an ironic twist, a legit Giana game was released for the DS in 2009. That was a pretty awesome move from Nintendo, and we’re grateful!”
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a project that was created in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the original Giana Sisters game, and it brings in something old, something new, something borrowed and something wicked. The story starts when poor Maria, who is Giana’s Sister, is taken away into a dream world, a bizarre land where everything and anything can happen. Giana immediately jumps into the portal that took Maria away an arrives at a bizarre world where things are not what they seem.
The main mechanic for the game is that Giana can switch between two different versions of herself at the press of a button. This allows you to play with a “Cute” Giana that is all sugar and spice and everything nice but who, for some reason, prefers to see the world around her as a very dark and gloomy place. “Punk” Giana is her alter-ego and, as you can probably guess, she sees a world full of pastel colors and fuzzy animals that are up to no good. Each version of Giana has a special skill that must be mastered if you really want to save Maria, and they allow you to mix-and-match their benefits on the fly. Cute Giana has a twirl ability that allows her to fall slowly when activated, thus allowing her to make her jumps higher and longer than usual. On the other hand, Punk Giana can hurl herself forward by dashing into any direction, and this dash can damage enemies if they’re unlucky enough to be in her path. On top of this, if you stomp an enemy or hit an enemy with the dash you can re-activate the corresponding skill depending on which version of Giana you’re controlling, and this opens the way for some interesting puzzles that reward you with special crystals that unlock some extras for those that explore every corner of a level.
The game does not hold your hand, and you will quickly be thrown into tricky situations that demand precise jumps to avoid being killed. Touching any enemy is a one-hit kill, and the same applies for the hazards you’ll find during your journey. Taking this into consideration, the game places several checkpoints on each level so that you don’t have to repeat the whole level just because you forgot to twirl before you jumped over a bottomless pit. There are also special power-ups that rewards you with boosts like a forcefield around Giana so that she can take one extra hit before she is killed. These power-ups are very useful for some of the trickier parts of the game.
Since I had already played the PS3 version of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, I noticed that the Wii U version looked like it had better color saturation, and it seemed to run at a slightly faster speed which made the animations feel more fluid, but loading times between both versions are comparable and are still a bit on the long side.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a very fun platformer, and a welcome addition to the Wii U library. The way the whole world changes in an instant at the press of a button with no slowdown and while also changing the music on the fly is a great showcase for what Black Forest Games can achieve on Nintendo’s console. They’re currently working on additional content for Giana Sisters which will hopefully be available soon on Wii U as well.