The Great Giana Sisters is a platform/action adventure game from Germany. It's the first in the Giana Sisters series. It was published in the 1980s to basically cash in on Super Mario Bros. for the Commodore 64 market, since Nintendo has rarely, if ever, published games for non-Nintendo consoles.note
The Great Giana Sisters is the story of Giana, an innocent little girl from Milan, Italy, who collected rubies and sapphires as a hobby. One night, an evil dragon of nightmares from Dream Land stole all of Giana's jewels and sucked her into his nightmare kingdom, where he set upon her with his army of evil owl minions, so she (along with her sister Maria, possibly) sets on a quest to re-capture her family jewels.
The original Great Giana Sisters was pulled off the shelves after threats from Nintendo. A sequel was made years later in Europe, Giana Sisters DS, and later released in the US. An unofficial sequel, Giana's Return, has also been released.
Like Mario, Giana has a variety of power-ups to help her along her way. Her main ability is transforming from her very Alice in Wonderland-ish normal persona into "Punk Giana" (in the 1980s, a punk rock chick with a crazy mohawk and loads of piercings who shoots bubbles; in the more recent version, into a Goth that shoots fire) which allows her to shoot projectiles to subdue enemies, take another hitnote and break blocks with her head. She can alter these projectiles by collecting other power-ups which give the projectiles properties like bouncing or homing. Giana can also use convenient vending machines to give her giant bottles of soda which she can spray to break through walls or attack enemies, or bubble gum to allow her to fly - provided she doesn't pop the bubble.
An official sequel, known as Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams was released at GOG and Steam on October 23rd, 2012, with an eShop release on September 5th, 2013, and a Director's Cut disk version released on October 29th, 2015, just under three years and one week later. This one changes things up a bit by allowing Giana to switch between her normal and punk form at will. Doing so not only alters Giana's abilities, but also switches the world around her from dream to nightmare (though which is which seems to be a matter of perspective). Each world has its own hazards, and switching between the two at the right times appears to be the focus of the gameplay. This was followed by a mini-expansion pack / mini-standalone game, Rise of the Owlverlord, which adds a fourth world and boss (the titular Owlverlord who can swap between Pirate and Ninja modes) to the game.
This game provides examples of:
- Big Bad: A slightly disfigured-looking dragon (referred to as Fucha in the original game manual).
- Bottomless Pits: Though some lead to secret areas and warps.
- Bubble Gun: The sisters' main offensive ability in the original game can be acquired when they touch lightning, giving them the ability to shoot "Dream Bubbles". This can be further upgraded with a Double Lightning power-up to shoot Dream Bubbles that will bounce off walls, and further upgrades with a Strawberry into homing Dream Bubbles.
- Captain Ersatz: Giana and Maria are faux-Distaff Counterparts to Mario and Luigi, natch.
- Dream Land: The game takes place in Giana's (and Maria's) dreams.
- Dungeon Bypass: Stage 2 and 6 allow the player to run across the top row of bricks, in a similar style as Super Mario Bros. All other stages that don't allow this either have no ceiling, or make the ceiling solid stone and provide no means to start a ceiling run.
- Everything Fades: Averted in most cases. Enemies simply stay where they got stomped.
- Excuse Plot: The dream starts with Giana losing her pretty things and needing to get them back.
- Fan Sequel: Giana's Return. It even has its own trailer.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Giana and Maria, according to supplementary material.
- The Goomba: Owls (officially named Pillowls as of Twisted Dreams).
- Goomba Stomp: As with many Mario games, most enemies can be stomped to defeat them. Some must be killed with lighting or are outright immune to the girls' attacks.
- Minus World: Pressing ARMN on the final stage brings you to the bonus stage (which it calls "Stage 27"). This bonus screen is normally available by entering some areas, but the warp cheat causes the game to treat it as a normal level and not generate the exit lift. Pressing ARMN again will crash the game when it tries loading "Stage 00".
- One Bullet at a Time: If your bouncing or homing shot gets stuck on terrain, you have to wait before attacking again.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Grabbing a Firewheel and turning Punk doesn't add an extra hit point to Giana/Maria, unlike the compatible Super Mushroom in the Super Mario games. It is still needed to break brick blocks and access other power ups.
- Palette Swap: Giana's sister, Maria, is just Giana with green hair. As of the Twisted Dreams expansion pack, she now has a paler skin tone, ponytail, and a giant ribbon in her hair in art, but still isn't playable.
- Firewheel: Transforms into Punk Giana who is bigger, and can bash bricks.
- Lighting: Allows Punk Giana to shoot "Dream Bubbles"
- Double Lightning: Dream Bubbles rebound off walls and surfaces.
- Strawberry: Dream Bubbles home in on enemies. The bubble reacts differently to walls depending on the platform (Commodore 64 version has the bubbles constantly bounce, while the Amiga has the bubble tunnel through)
- Clock: Freezes all enemies when activated.
- Magic Bomb: Kills all enemies when activated.
- Water Drop: Makes Giana immune to fire-damage.
- Lollipop: Gives Giana an extra-life.
- Soda Bottle: Shoots a stream of soda that kills enemies and destroys obstacles.
- Diamonds: Collect 100 for an extra life.
- Ratchet Scrolling: Harmful in the penultimate stage, because there is no exit at the end of the level.
- Single-Use Shield: Surprisingly averted in the original game, were turning Punk didn't give Giana an extra hit. In DS, however, Giana just loses her Punk powers upon getting hit and turns back to normal.
- Spiritual Successor: The C64 platformer Hard'n'Heavy, which was originally developed as a Giana sequel.
- Super Drowning Skills: Jump in water and Giana dies instantly, even if the water is not deep enough to cover her head!
- Take That!: The first game's infamous tagline "The brothers are history!" With the benefit of hindsight, it probably wasn't the best idea to openly taunt Nintendo, a very large and legally savvy media company, about ripping off their biggest IP. Naturally, the Giana series underwent a major case of Derivative Differentiation for its next bite at the apple, and let the brothers be.
- Timed Mission: In the original, 100 seconds per stage.
- Too Awesome to Use: The Clock (which freezes enemies) and Magic Bomb (which kills all enemies) power ups in the original game.
- Tyop on the Cover: The Great Giana Sisters was originally intended to be titled "The Great Gianna sisters" (spelled with two n's), and the title screen of the game spells it that way. But due to a typo on the box art, they adopted the misspelling as the official spelling so they wouldn't have to reprint the boxes.
- A Winner Is You: Standard issue - picking up the gem shows a text message, and sends you to high-score entry.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Failed, obviously. This was the first widely-publicized case in which a Follow the Leader ripoff of a video game was withdrawn from the market as a result of legal threats. They had been extremely common up to this point, with programmers and companies generally assuming near-impunity (the aforementioned Take That! definitely hurt them more than it helped).