22nd Mar2013

‘Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams’ Review (Xbox 360)

by Phil Wheat

Manufacturer: Sega
Specs: Xbox Live Arcade (now) | PSN (April)
RRP: 1200 MS Points
Rating: 3/5

Originally funded through Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is the home console debut of the stars of The Great Giana Sisters, the classic Commodore-era “bootleg” version of Super Mario Bros; and a duo whose second game, merely titled Giana Sisters, bizarrely saw an official release on Nintendo’s flagship DS handheld in 2009 – despite, if memory serves me correctly, Nintendo threatening legal action against the original title back in 1987!

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams sees gamers play as two very dissimilar sisters on a journey to a fantastic world in which the sisters’ different abilities are the keys to solving puzzles and defeating terrible monsters. Giana transforms herself with lightning speed to solve puzzles or make use of special abilities. With each transformation, her reality changes, and only players who skillfully apply the right strategy can complete tricky levels and defeat nasty end-bosses.

One of the first things I noticed about Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams after booting up the game was the soundtrack. Chris Hülsbeck, who scored the original game back in the 80s is back once more for this redux, along with the band Machinae Supremacy – and it sounds like they’ve brought the score out of the 80s with them! Soaring guitars, uplifting synths – it actually sounds at times like you’re listening to the final “love theme” from a John Hughes movie. Yet at other times the soundtrack sounds more ominous, with more of an 80s metal vibe. And it’s the soundtrack which, when all’s said and done, remains the highlight of the game…

The dichotomy found in the music continues throughout the game as you jump between realities, and sisters, to complete each level and collect all the available jewels in what is essentially a three-dimensional 2D platformer. Don’t get me wrong, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is a great entry into the series, yet at the same time I think it takes away from what made the first two games so great – the fact that they were *traditional* 2D side-scrolling platformers. Of course updating the graphics (which look superb by the way) and the gameplay for the Xbox 360 and PS3 was a necessity and, of course, it helps to remove some of the “SMB clone” stigma attached to the franchise, but I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic for the previous games whilst playing this one. Now where’s my DS?

Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams is out now on Xbox Live, with other formats to follow. You can find more information about the game at www.gianasisterstwisteddreams.com


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