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Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams

Submitted by on November 3, 2013 – 12:59 pmNo Comment

Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams 2Cute Giana has the ability to twirl and float through the air like a maple seed, while punk Giana can shoot in any direction as a devastating fireball. Strangely enough, cute Giana inhabits a spooky, demon-infested world, and punk Giana’s universe is filled with fluffy birds and bright flowers. Most levels require a mix of each Giana’s skills to complete, but large swathes can generally be completed with the sister of choice. I know it’s not polite to pick a “favorite” child, but I find myself favoring punk Giana, at times to my demise

See, I inherently approach platformers – especially ones with abundant checkpoints, such as Twisted Dreams – as strict speed-run, trial-and-error twitch games that are only hampered by forethought and strategy. Twisted Dreams presents a special problem with this play style, since it’s a challenging platformer made by a team of veteran developers. Black Forest clearly knows how to make a platformer that requires more than sheer luck to complete, and how to incorporate strategy into a linear path.

Still, I rush into each section at full speed, with fingers poised to strike over the jump and attack buttons, hoping I can dodge the floating enemies and leap over the pools of acid in time, and knowing that I probably can’t. When I die and respawn at a checkpoint (which I do, often), my first instinct is to do it all again as quickly as possible, without a moment to consider the path ahead of me or plan my movements through the gantlet. I’ll re-start an area 10 times before my mind catches up with my fingers and I pause to consider my actions.

Punk Giana lends herself to this self-destructive play style, allowing me to barrel through enemies and platforms without thought. Only when I stop do I sometimes realize a more gentle approach would complete the level with ease, and I switch over to cute Giana and float my way past every danger.

Apart from a second, calmer play style option, Twisted Dreams has a fail-safe for sloppy level completion. The final realm in each world has a lock on it that can only be opened with stars. Stars are earned at the end of every level depending on, in part, how many times Giana dies to get there. If I reach the final level of a world and my stars only fill the lock half-way, I know why, and I can meditate for a few minutes before replaying levels with serenity in my mind to earn more stars.

Even though The Great Giana Sisters never made it to the NES, the franchise hails from an era of two-button console controllers, and I find Twisted Dreams appropriately plays best with a gamepad. Actions with a controller are smooth and intuitive, which is not only an accomplishment, but a necessity for a game that has players swap between two different players, abilities and environments rapidly (and dozens of times) in each level. That those environments and movements are beautiful in their own right, even in transition, is a bonus.

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