Kickstarter Hands-On: Project Giana

Way back in the 80s there was a Mario clone called The Great Giana Sisters, but due to being just a bit too faithful to its source material, Nintendo nuked it from orbit.  Fast forward 25 years (plus a remake for the DS) and Project Giana popped up on Kickstarter.  This all-new game looks absolutely gorgeous, and now that the demo is out you can see that it plays as good as it looks.

Project Giana’s demo comprises two full levels, one from the very beginning so you can learn the controls and a much tougher one from later on.  Both levels do an excellent job of making you use the full range of Giana’s skills, which change depending on the form you’re using.  Cute Giana has a twirl move that acts as a double-jump, and holding the twirl button down makes her descend slower.  Punk Giana, on the other hand, can blast off like a rocket, useful for breaking bricks and bouncing off walls.  The twirl and rocket moves are always available, instantly switching Giana to the correct alignment when activated, but the way the level reacts to Giana’s current incarnation means you may want to be careful about the transition.

Cute Giana runs through a dark, twisted version of the level, while Punk Giana gets a brighter, more cheerful backdrop.  The level design changes on the fly, instantly (and impressively) switching from dark to light and then back again, but devices, enemies, and the crystal pickups may respond better to one form than the other.  Rotating platforms switch from clockwise to counter-clockwise, elevators rise or fall, and even some enemies become harmless, depending on Giana’s current alignment.  The two levels on display have you constantly switching back and forth between Cute and Punk to snag extra gems or solve platforming puzzles, and you might even find yourself hanging out in a safe spot changing forms just to watch the transformations of all the lovely background details.

At the time of this writing Project Giana has four days left on the clock, and it’s going to take some seriously bad luck to miss the funding goal.  I can tell you based on the demo that it’s a great-looking game with solid controls and loads of fun level design, and absolutely worth backing, but the demo is relatively small and easily acquired.  Go check it out, odds are good you’ll be happy you did.