Friday, April 19, 2013

Giana Sisters? More like Giana Sparksters! More like a rant about euro-games!

at 4:36 PM
I don't know how I'm supposed to get a whole post out of this. I played the XBLA demo of Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, and it was bad. We done? Good.

It looks like we're not done, because this paragraph. Little history lesson: the original Great Giana Sisters is some kind of Super Mario Bros. ripoff (get it? Italian name? siblings? adjective? platforming? computer games? Internet telephony?), although they couldn't even get the title parody right (shouldn't it be Great Giana Siss.?). It was originally developed for the Comedydore 64 (uh oh) and has the feel and production value of like, maybe Chex Quest? I dunno, I think Chex Quest was better. Maybe Leisure Suit Larry. That's probably still too nice. How about Action 52? It's just a weird, cynical, European game with no apparent reason to exist - it isn't really a parody, because it has no jokes, but it isn't an original game because it has the exact same gameplay as SMB, down to the evil turtles, bouncing fireballs, and breakable blocks. The only thing that clearly distinguishes the two games is that GGS is clearly worse programmed and has uglier graphics (what C64 wasn't hideous? It was only a quarter step up from a ColecoVision.). I've heard some defend the game by saying "well NES and SMB had no foothold in Europe at the time", but SMB was non-existent on the Genesis/Mega Drive and Sega still found a way to compete without copying.

Euro-games are a thing though. I don't think I truly in my heart understand [mainland] Europe, because they like such weird crap. And I'm not trying to sound racist here. I just am racist. How come they never caught on to rock music? How come Germans have such a bizarre sense of humor? How come Latinos are obsessed with Morrissey? None of it adds up. And who's that old guy in the funny white hat that lives somewhere in Italy? What's his deal? I suppose it should come as no surprise that they have their own style of video game as well. Euro-shmups are unnecessarily slow, physics-heavy, and shop-driven, like Xenon; euro-platformers like Turrican and our very own Great Giana Sisters have bizarro level-design and completely rip more popular games; euro-brawlers turn out like Cyborg Justice. I actually just invented the term "euro-brawler", but man does Cyborg Justice make me glad it wasn't a thing. It kinda baffles me that we Americans are better able to relate to the Japanese game world than the European - then again, many genre 'baseline' games came from Japan (Space Invaders, Funky Kong), so we don't really differentiate between "Japanese games" and plain old "games".

You know how it's always obvious when an old game was developed in Europe? They just had a special touch for not understanding anything that made games fun. Or how to program. It's the Cyborg Justice thing where I think they'd probably only ever seen video games, not played them.

Sorry, I'm being Negative Nancy, Electrically Supercharged Superheroine of the Superfuture. There certainly are/were good European game companies - Britain alone has loads. There's fucking Rare, Ubisoft, Eidos (though most of their classic dev squads like Ion Storm, Looking Glass, and Crystal Dynamics were American), Ninja Theory, Digital Reality, and CD Projekt. Even Nintendo of America makes some great European games in the Europe. Truly a cavalcade of talent and overwhelming.

Because a whole continent is capable of collectively making a bad decision, a 2012 sequel to GGS was crowd-funded into existence, courtesy of Kickstarter. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams appeared on Steam last year and Xbox Live Arcade in early 2013, and good lord why is it exactly a Rocket Knight game? Well, that's not quite fair. RKA and Sparkster are blazingly fast, varied, enthralling to look at, and overall excellent. Twisted Sisters appears to be none of that. The reasons I make the comparison are mostly superficial, but superficial in a way that feels a bit more than coincidence. Again, recall that I only played the demo of Twisted Dreams, so it may take off in a lazerjet and explode into the troposphere an hour in. Sorry if it does. I'm so sorry. I don't have a million years/dollars to wait around for lazerjets in every game ever. I'm not Ignatius IGN. Ignatius IGN, that's a pretty good one. IGNatius. Yep.

So G-STD shares the following with Rock'n Night: rocket packs, boucing off walls at 45-degree angles, IDENTICAL blue and red diamonds, and dimension-swapping (like in the RKA waterfall level).
I dunno, they don't play all that similar - it's just strange to me that a "throwback" platformer with "unique" mechanics would draw all of those mechanics from a single game/series that started around the time it's throwing back to. Not to mention a series which was recently rebooted on the very same platforms.

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