Monday, 27 August 2012

Project Giana (Demo) (PC)

Today I'm taking a look at a demo for a game that doesn't exist... yet. It doesn't even have a name, 'Project Giana' is just a placeholder title. (Edit: The game was eventually titled Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.)

This is the second sequel to classic platformer Great Giana Sisters though, so hopefully it'll make a million internet bucks on kickstarter in its last few days and they'll get the cash they need to finish it. Maybe someone will even give them a good idea for a new title while they're there.

Click for 1280x800 view
I apologise for the quality of these screens by the way, I couldn't get the game to go higher than 640x480 (edit: due to my own dumb fault, I had the refresh rate set wrong. I've swapped this image for a new one.), and the jpeg compression doesn't help.

Two signs in the background helpfully point out that I'm supposed to run right and then jump. Or maybe shoot someone in the air with eye-beams, that one's a little vague. They don't actually tell me what buttons I should press to do this though, apparently they're meant for the character not the person holding the controller, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Well I missed the floating gems, but I've successfully got her gliding down at least. It seems she's picked up a floaty spinning move since the DS game.

By the way I know the game might seem to have a bit of a rubbish mid 90s pre-rendered look, but it's actually all proper real-time 3d and looks great in motion. My screenshots aren't doing it justice.

Hmm, I'm pretty sure that one means 'jump on enemy'. Okay sign, whatever you say! Don't know who's putting all these signs up, but they're obviously not a fan of owls.

The Giana Sisters series started off with a Mario clone, and I'm glad to see they've kept some of the classic owl stomping gameplay in the latest game. They've remade the classic Chris Hülsbeck soundtrack as well, and it sounds awesome.

The camera's pretty well behaved, but I can take over and tilt it around if I want. Like if I want to look where a ridiculous jump's going to take me for instance. This looks like a job for the glide button (well, 'cute twirl' to be precise).

This is a perfect use of gems to light up the correct path I reckon. I'd be pretty lost without them (they even show me when to start gliding), and I get rewarded if I do it right.

Turns out she can float down as long as I keep the button held down, so the jump was no problem.

Hang on though, I'm sure there's something still there. Yeah, it's hard to see, but if you look closely on the left there's a row of ghosted diamonds there. It'd be nice if they were a bit more obvious, because I could have totally missed them.

Whoa! I hit the switch character button, and the whole world morphed Soul Reaver style into a fantasy forest level, while the music morphed into Machinae Supremacy's metal cover of the same tune. That was honestly done really well, I'm impressed.

Also, now I can get the diamonds. Cool.

It's funny how this and Giana Sisters DS actually make me want to get all the items on the level, but I found it tedious in games like Global Gladiators. I suppose it helps that it's not mandatory and there's no rush this time.

The other Giana sister (I really should have looked up their names) can't hover, but she has her own skill. She can dash in any direction instead, smashing through bricks and ricocheting off rock walls. In the other games the pink haired one was just the powered up version, basically Mario in his white fire-flower outfit, but they both have their uses this time.

Oh, I don't mean you have to stop and change characters to use the other ability. Each skill gets its own button, and the entire world instantly warps and switches between the sisters when you use the other character's button. This could have really ruined the whole thing if they'd screwed it up, but the switch is so fluid that it doesn't interrupt gameplay at all.

Floating hand waving a purple flag can only mean I've passed a checkpoint. Which I accidentally tested out two seconds later by running right into those evil plants and getting my poor Giana sister killed.

This is what I'm talking about by the way. There's so many plants and leaves around on this level that this one didn't even register in my head as a threat. I just walked right into it and was confused when I was suddenly kicked back to the checkpoint.

I'm sure the green smoke is supposed to be a clue that this is actually a sinister thorny bush thing, but green smoke on a green level doesn't actually stand out that well. 

Fortunately evil plants have no place in evil world, so the blonde one's able to just walk in and grab her gems.

I wonder if that turns into a happy castle if I switch over now.

Crap, too late. Turns out that was the level goal, and I'm on to level two. The DS game had a proper Super Mario Bros 3 style world map, but this just sent me straight on my way to the next stage. Hopefully that's just because it's an early demo of a game that may not ever get made, and not any real indication of the way things will be in the final release. Because I really do like my level select screens.


Right at the start of level two I just had to see what was over on the left, and managed to Karateka myself right off the edge into the insta-kill water.

It was at this point that I noticed that there's no lives counter. I may very well have infinite lives here.

Sign in the back says incinerate ghosts with the burning light of love, so that's what I'm gonna do.

Then I took a few steps forward and got her killed again. After analysing this screenshot I took just before the event, I can only conclude... that there's another one of those bloody thorn bush things down there on the right.

The graphics are great, the controls are solid, the characters are slick and responsive, the music is fantastic (though didn't I hear this song on a loop all through the first level already?) but if I had to find a flaw in the game so far, it'd have to be these bushes. Or my eyesight, whichever one's giving me problems here.

I was all smug when I figured out that switching worlds let me just walk through ghosts. Right until I ran into the ghosts for the other world. Both enemies transform along with the level, so I guess if I was fast enough I could slip by all of them by switching characters at the right moment. But screw it, I'm just going to lure them up here and incinerate them all.

In the last Giana Sisters game this ball thing worked a bit like a fire-flower, giving me an extra hit-point and a fireball attack. Though it was a pick-up for the blonde sister than swapped her with the pink haired one, so I've no idea what this'll do this time.

Oh, turns out it didn't do much of anything. No projectile attack, but I've acquired a healthy glow so it probably just gave me an extra hit-point.

That is a really annoying place to stick a foreground object, right before I need to make a jump. Especially with those ghosts still around. I screwed up several times here because I couldn't see what I was doing.

Aw crap. The path branched off into two directions, and I took the road leading to a screenful of water. The water level goes up and down, so I have to choose the right moment to drop down, grab a gem, then get back to safety before the tide turns.

Of course I could just leave the gems and make a run for it, but that's hardly in the spirit of the game. This is about greed, and hoarding floating diamonds, and I ain't gonna leave a single one if I can help it.

Oh shit, the water's coming back up. Where do I go? Maybe I can make it on to that small platform to the left of the pink mushrooms. Uh, I'm standing on that yellow ledge on the bottom middle of the screen by the way. I think.

Nope too slow, drowned again. I must have lost like ten lives here already. Or twenty, but who's counting? It doesn't matter, I've got infinite of them. Plus fortunately I get to keep all the gems I've collected even if I get my character killed before a checkpoint. So if I wanted to I could just jump down, grab a couple of diamonds, leave her to drown, then reappear at the top and grab some more next time. But I won't.

To be fair, finding the way around to the gems is usually the tricky part, not collecting them, and in this case just getting across at all is the real challenge. There's no checkpoints mid way, I have to do it all in one run and hope there's a checkpoint on the other side.

Checkpoint! Now that's a big diamond. I'm worried about jumping into it though in case it turns out to be the level exit. I think I'll just leave it be, and come back to it later.

Hey, this is the part where the path branched earlier, I'm sure of it. That hole on the left leads down to the water.

You know, I'm starting to think that big diamond actually was just a big diamond, and now I can't get back to it without doing all that jumping around over water again. Damn.

Giana Sisters DS was a pretty well made game, and I liked it, but it did still feel a bit like a Mario clone, without many new ideas of its own. This game seems like it'll have a bit more variety to it though, and a bit more of its own identity.

Oh, and also lots of moving platforms. Still, it's a platformer, I knew what I was getting into. Just gotta time it right and try to stop smacking my head on the row above...

This is an interesting idea, the platforms move up in one world, and down in the other, so I'm controlling them with my choice of character. And just to make things more interesting there's spikes on the roof and instant death water on the floor.

I'm starting to think I'm going to run out of my infinite lives before I make it through here.

And that's it, I've finished the two level demo, and my reward is some screenshots and advert for their kickstarter. Which incidentally you can find here:

This game actually turned out to be pretty good, I liked it. It's a good old fashioned platformer with some new ideas, and rock solid control. I was never once able to blame the controls for one of my many fuck ups, (though I did blame the pink haired sister for ricocheting off a ledge back into the bloody water over and over again.)

The world warping 'twist' feature gets a lot of use, even if it's mostly used to open gates, move platforms, and turn off evil plants a lot of the time. It's pretty important to the gameplay, but the actual level layout never gets distorted in the way Soul Reaver's world did. It's cool how they linked it your skills though, so you have to be mindful about the way things will change as you make your way around.

So if any of that sounds interesting, you can check the demo out yourself if you want: Project Giana download page.

If you have any comments about that wall of text and pictures I just inflicted upon the internet then you're in luck, as there's a comments box right there for you. Opinions, game suggestions, site criticism, etc. is welcome.


  1. What's your PC configuration for not being able to play in a resolution above 640px X 480px ?

    1. I actually just loaded it up five minutes ago to check something, and managed to fix it this time.

      It turned out to be nothing to do with my PC, or a bug in the software. In fact it was my fault for thinking I should leave the refresh rate set to the default value. I tried putting it to the correct number this time, and the resolution list suddenly filled up with options.


Semi-Random Game Box