Giana Sisters won’t win any awards for creativity, but the gameplay is solid and the high fun factor will keep you coming back for more.
If you love Super Mario Bros. but have always found it just a bit too masculine, then your dreams are about to come true. Giana Sisters gives you all the brick-breaking, fire-throwing, flag-reaching action you could want, and it wraps it up in a tidy feminine package.
While there’s no doubt that this game is a total rip-off of the Nintendo classic, it’s not a pixel-for-pixel re-skin. The levels are new, the bad guys are different, and the controls feel looser and more jaunty. None of these are bad things. The game is actually really fun, which proves once again that if you’re going to steal, you might as well steal from the best.
The paper-thin story tells the tale of a blonde-haired girl whose treasure chest full of diamonds explodes, blanketing the 2D platform-filled land with her gems. Her only recourse is to hop, skip, and jump around until she gets them all back. By herself, she’s weak and can be killed with one hit. But nab a powerup, and she transforms into her red-haired, fireball-slinging sister.
You take control of the Giana girls using a simple left/right D-pad and buttons to jump and shoot. The touch interface is responsive and totally up to the task of navigating the perilous terrain you’ll encounter. And make no mistake: The environments are expertly crafted, with pits, platforms, and enemies packed into every level. The stages are fairly short, too, which makes for great on-the-go gaming.
Like in all iDevice platformers, falling in pits due to the lack of tactile feedback from the touch buttons can be annoying. Giana Sisters sidesteps this issue by placing checkpoints in the longer levels, meaning that you’ll never be put back very far when you bite the big one.
Giana Sisters is a very fun game, but we have to note its astonishing lack of creativity. This game borrows everything and pioneers almost nothing. From pipes to powerups, breakable bricks to gem boxes, this game is a shameless clone of Super Mario Bros. The things that set it apart, like the chewing gum bubbles that allow you to float, are nice touches, but they’re very few and far between.
For a game that originally came out for Amiga and Commodore 64 more than 20 years ago, it’s impressive that Giana Sisters can still provide such enjoyable gameplay. The original 32 levels are intact, an impressive 80 new ones have been added, and the whole thing has received a pretty facelift. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. And since Mario won’t be making an appearance in the App Store any time soon, we encourage you to give this one a try.