Many games have tried, with varying degrees of success, to duplicate the magic of such side-scrolling platformers as the Super Mario Bros. or Mega Man series, but Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams comes pretty close. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was developed by the team at Black Forest Games. In the game, you play as Giana, who has the magical and scary ability to shift her world between light and dark. Her fairytale ends when a portal opens and her twin sister, Maria, is kidnapped by a hungry dragon named Gurglewocky and whisked away to the Dream World.
In a beginning reminiscent of Super Mario Bros. 2, Giana gets sucked into her own nightmarish Dream World where she must traverse through a hellish demon-ridden world as her sweet innocent self (\”Cute Giana\”). That only changes when she transforms the world into a sweet, Candy Land-type place, where enemies turn into seemingly nice owl characters and her neon pink-haired wild child (\”Punk Giana\”) steps out.
Giana can flame-dash through blocks, much like a portly plumber we know of that can break red bricks with a headbutt or punch of his fists. She can spin through the air gracefully like a ballerina, collecting special gems littered through each of the game’s three worlds. Pressing X on the Game Pad while leaping off a cliff will make Giana do her graceful spin. Pressing left or right on the control stick and pressing A will make her jump or double-jump and pressing Y will execute her flame-dash. Much like Mario, Giana can wall-jump, but she can also turn into a flame-like pinball, zigzagging back and forth between walls, working her way up to unreachable ledges and perhaps a treasure trove of gems.
There are platforms that only appear when she switches from one world to the other. These kinds of mechanics can also be found in games like WayForward’s Mighty Switch Force! or Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds, where worlds in the foreground and background can be switched back and forth in order to access once-unreachable areas.
Littered throughout each world are gems of different types—some that will unlock artwork, other ones that are bigger in size that will unlock pieces of a boss lock, or even some that will grant Giana temporary invincibility. There is a score mode where you can tackle the various different levels, grabbing as many gems as you can while taking on enemies, a hardcore mode that will unlock a different-looking starting screen, and even an uber hardcore mode, which probably utilizes switching back and forth between worlds at an alarming rate.
Each baddy is easy to defeat, whether it be bouncing or stomping on an enemy owl’s head in the cute world or onto the spiked head of a flying man goat in punk world. Those happen to be ways to defeat the green-colored enemies while flying red enemies can be destroyed by a using a flame-dash attack.
Each of the three worlds has at least between six to nine subset areas with their own themes, such as a forest, a mine, a castle, and other areas. Each have their own unique puzzles and strategies that must be used in order to move onto the next location. Switching while in midair doing a flame-dash can be quite annoying, as it is easy to fall while trying to reach another level up above you. Even switching worlds with the right trigger button can be tough when in midair, spinning and trying to stick a perfect landing after a gem collection feast.
The game is a bit short with only three major worlds, but the upbeat and rocking tunes of each of the different levels can get you going into quite a strategic rhythm of play. Loading times between levels is monotonous with the same sweet-sounding but annoying music. The hints are helpful at first, but also can get old really fast.
Boss battles are quite thrilling, such as at the level of the pirate-themed world, where you must dodge the tentacles of a giant octopus and time perfectly each world twist to escape each attempt of his slimy suckered grasps to grab and squeeze the life out of one of your better halves.
One annoying glitch that will hopefully be fixed soon is that there there is no sound on the Game Pad during Off-TV Play which, in a way, ruins the ambiance of Giana’s twisted romp through the Dream World. The controls, however, are still sharply intact–as if you were still playing on the big screen.
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams offers a solid, challenging, and fun romp through a magical world of light and dark, offering both a taste of whimsy and a bitter taste of a sadistic challenge. The controls are sharp and easy to figure out and, once you get into the rhythm of making the necessary twist in each world at the right time, will make you feel empowered in your quest to rescue your sister from the evil Gurglewocky.
The graphic renderings are straight out of a fairytale book with both beautiful red and sandy hues for the punk world and richly colored rainbow pastels for the cute world.
In conclusion, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is worth the money if you are looking for a short, fun-filled challenge with a taste of sweetness, innocence, and punkish fun.