There are loads of great things in the world, aren't there. Let's see if we can think of some. Eeeerm, there's Great Britain - what a glorious nation (ahem). There's Great Expectations, the book by that marvellous author Sven Hassell (Eh? - Ed). There's Great Ormond Street Hospital, a building full of doctors nurses and ill children that 'celebs' often visit. There's the Great Train Robbers (Gord bless their cotton socks). There's, erm, erm - blimey, I've run out. Hey, what's that falling from the ceiling? (Sound of Speccy +3 disk landing on head). Ouch - hmmm I'll just stick it in the computer (whir, whirr, whirr, whirr). Great balls of fire, great heavens above, it's The Great Giana Sisters - worra coincidence! I may as well do a review then, eh Spec-chums?
Giana Sisters is bound to be compared with Super Mario Brothers at some point, so I'll get it over and done with now. Great Giana Sisters is a bit like Super Mario Brothers. There, done it - and some of you may find that recommendation enough to go out and buy this game, so goodbye, and have fun. For the rest of you I'll describe it all in greater detail.
Format: a right to left scrolling, side-on viewed, monochromatic platformish collect and avoid 'em-up (Gasp). In fact, visually, it's rather akin to Wonder Boy - quite a bit in fact.
You play Giana (in two player mode your friend plays her sister Maria, and you play alternately) who, while sleeping one night, slips into her dream and finds herself in a strange land, full of nightmarish creatures. (Freddy Krueger might even be in there somewhere). Her only chance of escape is to search for a magic diamond which should send her dreamland packing and return her to reality.
The monochromatic playing area scrolls toward Giana (who is generally in the centre) and obstacles and nasties confront her. There are platforms made up of blocks which can be jumped onto and which occasionally (if a block has a star on it) yield an extra skill or weapon. To get anything in this game requires an icon to be head-butted (so stand under a block and jump up). The first reward you get is a sort of 'punky' hair-do, which enables you to destroy bricks by nutting them - very useful if you've taken a silly route and the way up is blocked by a platform (saves you having to back-track). Then you get a little bomb which can be thrown at the nasties (without this, they have to be jumped on or simply avoided). Then you get a bomb which automatically homes in on your enemies, and so on. A lot of the blocks contain Magic crystals, 100 of which, when collected give an extra life. The dilemma you're faced with is whether to 'waste' time collecting these, because each level has to be completed within a time limit - 100 seconds, to be precise. Failure to complete a level in time loses you one of your three lives.
The landscapes have all sorts of traps to be negotiated, including spikes, fire pits, holes and water-pools. Some 'traps' aren't actually traps at all, and can help you considerably. It's all a question of trial and error (quite a lot, there are apparently 32 levels - I found level 3 hard enough to get to).
Great Giana Sisters is a pure gem of a game where addctiveness is concerned. The graphics aren't exactly the best I've ever seen, but they're perfectly passable (given the brillo gameplay). The only real whinge I've got is the speed of the scroll and response from the keyboard - it's not exactly slick and crisp. Having said that, however, you do get used to it fairly quickly and the game is so enjoyable in itself that it doesn't matter that much in the long run. It's a great game.
Hey, I've just thought of another thing that's Great... ME! (haw haw haw). Boing.
Side view monochrome avoid and collect 'em-up scrolling platform game. It's in the same vein as Wonderboy, but more addictive. Great stuff.