C64 Review of Great Giana Sisters, The from Issue 39

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


One night, when little Giana from Milano was tucked up in her bed and sleeping fast, she had a mysterious dream. Through the swirls of a dark, deep dreamscape she suddenly found herself in a strange land of traps, tricks and malevolent creatures.

To escape this weird world of imaginings, Giana passes through its 32 levels in search of a great, magical diamond. These stages are set either above or below ground and scroll horizontally from right to left. Each one is completed within 100 seconds, otherwise a life is lost. Seconds remaining at the end of a level are multiplied by ten for a bonus.

A status strip at the top of the screen displays the score, crystals collected, lives remaining, current stage and time left. Crystals are collected in three ways: head-butting beige coloured rocks, picking them up loose or by hitting ordinary blocks, some of which yield three jewels or more. Gathering 100 crystals rewards the player with an extra life to add to the initial three.

The landscapes consist of plat forms and obstacles. Giana jumps or runs left or right to negotiate the hazards, which include holes, fire pits, spikes and pools of water, all of which forfeit a life should they be touched. However, all is not what it seems at first, since some holes lead to secret rooms piled high with magic crystals: a process of trial and error reveals which holes are fatal and which magical.

Alien beings, disguised as cute and cuddly creatures such as giant bees, lobsters, wriggling worms and bouncing blobs, wander around the landscapes intent on their own business. Contact with any of these is fatal, but they are easily destroyed by squashing them from above, shooting them with dreambubbles or annihilating large numbers with a smart bomb.

Weapons and extra features are collected from beige blocks to allow safer passage through the dreamscape: the first of these is a firewheel which transforms sweet, well-behaved Giana into a punk who head-butts bricks. Weaponry is supplied in the form of a lightning bolt (dreambubbles), double lightning (dreambubbles which rebound off obstacles to be caught again) and strawberries (dreambubbles which home in on their victim).

Other features are activated with the space bar and include a clock which puts creatures to sleep for a short period, magic bombs, a water drop (protection against fire) and a lollipop, which yields an extra life.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 90%

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Sixteen Plus - 29 Oct 2010
I was lucky to own an original back in 1988, however I was also unlucky to lose it 7 years later.

Now I am one proud'ish owner of a near exact duplicate complete in a single budget sized case with instructions on reverse side of inlay...Go me!

Anyway...The game was so good, Nintendo slapped their injunction on it. Booo Sintendo.

Despite the tricky controls and rubbish ending, it's just pure fantastic Mario-esque platforming fun, and still nothing short of a gold medal from me....Go Giana!

Rating : 96%
paulyholly - 27 Aug 2008
just shelled out £53 on ebay for this classic - fantastic game

Rating : 100%
luk3Z - 25 May 2008
Best game ever!

Rating : 100%
mareq133 - 5 Jan 2008
The best platform game ever made. I Love it since I played it for the first time in 1992, my C64 is R.I.P. but I am still playing it on VICE emulator

Rating : 100%
whatcouldvebeen - 13 Aug 2007
man i hope i live to see the day nintendo goes bankrupt like commodore! games like this couldve kept commodore a household name! but thanks nintendo good to know that selfishness still holds the marketplace.... just to let everybody know microsoft, sony, and nintendo better watch our company is talking good deals and great technology a new compeditor will be entering the market very soon

Rating : 94%
Terry Beeps - 16 Oct 2006
It's like an effigy of Ric Ford

Rating : 93%
mars - 19 Feb 2006

Rating : 50%
MaffRignall - 7 Feb 2006
Overrated, but only slightly - there were a few bugs, and the overall feel wasn't quite 'consoley' enough for what it was aiming for (whereas the 16 bit version got the feel spot-on).

Graphics down, sound up, everything else pretty much the same. It was a cracking game, but not a Gold Medal IMHO.

Rating : 90%
Francesco - 10 May 2005
WOW Fantastic game.Surely one of the bets C64's games ever coded...

Rating : 90%
alessio - 4 May 2005
yeah this upset the nintendo boys! fantastic game too addictive!. the best part of this game is definately the level structure its so well layed out, it doesnt take long before realise this baby is going to take some beating!. dont miss out on this one its brill!!

Rating : 95%
LorinSilver - 14 Jul 2004
I'm sorry, but I thought the game was quite boring. It could have been great if it'd had more variety in power-ups etc. Not a bad game, but not that good either.

Rating : 56%
PaulEMoz - 17 May 2004
Haha! I bought this game the day it came out. Wasn't I the lucky one? I couldn't tell you where it is now, my dad's probably thrown it out, but at the time I owned one of the classic C64 games of the day. I enjoyed it a lot, too. It was as close to a Super Mario Bros. game you could ever hope for on the 64, and the plaudits were all well deserved.

Rating : 96%
neilb - 17 May 2004
A quite brilliant game. Spent countless hours playing this Nintendo-inspired classic.

Rating : 90%
Professor Brian Strain - 3 Apr 2004
Wow, I never thought I would play this game when it was banned - and then a year later I found an original tape in a small independent games shop.
It is without doubt a classic title, full of Nintendo-style gameplay and neat touches.

Rating : 95%
Iain - 3 Dec 2003
This is still an excellent game. I played it a lot back in the day and it plays just as well today.

It kicks plumbers butt and is one of the best platformers on the C64.

The hardness level is just right, with each level getting progressively harder.

I think the original rating are still spot on, although I'd throw a couple more percent on the Overall.

Rating : 98%
LeeT - 1 Dec 2003
Just have to say that I totally agree with the original ratings and comments. Although the game may be initially too easy, the fun takes over immediately. This would be ideal for anyone to show their son/daughter an excelelnt C64 game!

Rating : 97%
Julian Rignall
After some initial hiccups — or should I say gigantic burps — things seem to be looking up for GO! Great Giana Sisters is a clone of the utterly superb Super Mario Bros, and although it isn't as good as Nintendo's classic, it's still both incredibly addictive and tremendously playable. There are plethora of hidden bonuses and rooms to discover across 32 actionpacked levels, and just to keep you on your toes, there's also a strict time limit! Great Giana Sisters isn't just fun to play — it looks good too! Nicely animated ‘cute' sprites and strange backdrops work together perfectly to create a strange dream-like world - some of the creatures and objects are really weird. Any one lucky enough to have Super Mario Bros won't find this particularly appealing because SMB is far more refined, but for those without, Great Giana Sisters offers a fiendishly playable platform game that'll have you burning the midnight oil for weeks.
Gordon Houghton
This is one of the most addictive arcade adventures I've ever played - it's amazing! The gameplay is just fabulous: the basic collect and shoot action is brilliant in itself, with great graphics and a wide range of weapons and extra features to collect, but on top of this there are loads of secrets to be discovered. You can play the same level for ages and then suddenly discover a bonus room packed full of jewels, or head-butt an apparently ordinary block only to find it yields half a dozen crystals. With 32 levels to complete there are enough surprises and bonus sections to satisfy anyone: you can even walk along the top of the screen if you want to! The visual impression is just great: Giana and her sister are cutely animated and neatly drawn, the enemies are designed for maximum appeal and the backdrops are diverse, colourful and deviously laid out. The sound might seem a bit twee at first, but it suits the game's jolly tone perfectly, and is certainly not annoying. It's the best game of its type since Bubble Bobble, and there can't be many higher recommendations than that.
Paul Glancey
Bearing in mind the immense success of Super Mario Brothers, I'm surprised that no-one has tried to emulate its format before. Though it isn't an exact copy of said blockbuster, Great Giana Sisters manages to recreate the aura of cute platform play which appealed to so many gamers, and hence the game's appeal is really quite astounding. Something which this game has borrowed from the arcade is its surprise bonus blocks and treasure rooms, and it's always very satisfying to come across a block jam packed with crystals. Cartoonesque sprites and mushroomy landscapes fit the bill perfectly as does the excellent background music. Minor deficiencies which are brought to light in the comparison with SMB, such as the slightly tricky jump control and the post-mortem resetting of the crystal counter, may irritate true devotees of that classic, but less discerning platform addicts should be well pleased with what is a thoroughly entertaining game.
Two-player option, a multitude of bonus screens and surprise features, with a highscore table saved to disk.

A wide range of appealing characters couple with brightly coloured and varied backdrops to create a superb cartoon-quality atmosphere.

A cute tune and appropriate spot effects jolly along simultaneously.

The simple, appealing gameplay is instantly addictive; the brilliant visual and aural impression is the icing on the cake.

The 32 levels are only the beginning: many more secret rooms and mysterious features are there to be discovered...

A fabulous, compelling and constantly rewarding arcade adventure.