The Great Giana Sisters / Rainbow Arts 1987
Screenshots: play/stop

Everyone was aware of the Mario brothers, ever since Nintendo gave birth to Mario in Donkey Kong in the arcades. When Nintendo came out with Super Mario Brothers, the addictive side-scrolling monster-squashing arcade and NES game, everyone wanted it. Trouble is, not everyone wanted to have to buy a NES or drop millions of coins into the arcade game just to play it.

Enter Armin Gessert who decided to do something about it. His solution was to create a game called The Great Giana Sisters (spelt "Gianna" in the actual game!) which, by some strange coincidence, bears a more than passing resemblence to Nintendo's aforementioned creation.

The storyline is this: Giana had fallen asleep as usual, and dreamt about a strange land with blocks, structures, castles, sewers and strange nasties. The trouble is, she can't escape from this strange dreamworld until she has completed 33 stages and collected the huge Magic Diamond at the end.

Each stage is made up of platforms and various structures, and the idea is to run from left-to-right, jumping on platforms and avoiding all the nasties. At the end of each stage is a tunnel to get through to the next stage.

Nasties that Giana encounters on the way are little critters like crabs, eyes-on-legs, worms, bouncing balls, wasps, jellyfish, and funny looking aliens. Also down in the sewers, Giana encounters two bigger nasties; the ant and the dragon, much like the dragon on that other game that I'm trying not to mention any more.

Along the way, Giana can collect diamonds, which are either out on full view, or hidden inside certain blocks that she can bump with her head. If she manages to collect 100 diamonds, she is awarded an extra life.

Giana does have some help, though. Certain blocks are magical. The first magic block you'll come across is the Firewheel which, when collected, will turn Giana from a well-behaved little schoolgirl to a kick-ass punk, whose headbutts will now destroy blocks which is handy for finding those hidden diamonds. Other magical blocks include lightning, which allow Giana to fire "dreambubbles," which kill certain nasties on impact; double-lightning which are rebounding dreambubbles; magic strawberries which make the dreambubbles home-in on the nearest nasty; a Clock which, when the spacebar is pressed, will make all creatures fall asleep for a while; magic bombs which destroy all on-screen nasties; Water-drops which make Giana immune from fire; and a lollipop, which gives Giana an extra life.

If you're wondering why the game is called the Great Giana Sisters, it's because Giana does actually have a sister, Maria, who is controlled by the second player in a two-player game.

This game was a good Super Mario Brothers clone. In fact, it was too good. Shortly after it's release, Nintendo threatened Rainbow Arts with a lawsuit and, sadly, RA relented and pulled the game off the shelves. Those who were fortunate enough to get their hands on a copy had the best platform game on the C64. It had everything that SMB had, including the secret rooms, implemented by falling down gaps that had a slight line below them. The graphics were bright and cute, the music was jolly and reggae-like in it's rhythm, and it even had a digitune for an intro (with sampled drums). Smooth gameplay, easy joystick controls and a well thought-out level design made this a surefire hit, and a very addictive game.

Reviewed by Boz.

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