The Great Giana Sisters is a 1987 platform game developed by Time Warp Productions and published by Rainbow Arts. This German video game is known for its controversial production history and its similarities to the famous Nintendo platform game Super Mario Bros., which prompted legal pressure against the producers of the game. The scroll screen melody of the game was composed by Chris Hülsbeck and is a popular Commodore 64 soundtrack.


The player takes the role of Giana (referred to as Gianna in the scrolling intro and also the intended name before a typo was made on the cover art and the developers just went with that rather than having the cover remade[1]), a girl who suffers from a nightmare, in which she travels through 32 stages full of monsters, while collecting ominous diamonds and looking for her sister Maria. If the player wins the final battle, Giana will be awakened by her sister.[2]


File:Giana Sisters Screenshot.png

The Great Giana Sisters is a 2D side-scrolling arcade game in which the player controls either Giana or her sister Maria. The game supports alternating 2 players, with second player taking control of Maria.

Each level contains a number of dream crystals, which gives points when collected in order to make the game's high score. An extra life can be gained by collecting 100 dream crystals. Extra lives can also be found in the form of hidden "Lollipop" items.

Enemies can be defeated by jumping on them or shooting them after obtaining the relevant powerups. The enemies include owls, rolling eyeballs, flesh-eating fish and deadly insects. The "Fire Wheel" transforms Giana into a punk with the ability to crush rocks by jumping beneath them. "Lightning Bolt" awards Giana "Dream Bubbles", a single projectile shot. "Double Lightning" gives her ability to shoot recoiling projectiles. "Strawberries" gives the ability to shoot homing projectiles. There is one defensive item in the game, the "Water-Drop", which protects Giana against fire. A number of special items can also be triggered that affects the entire screen, such as the "Clock", which freezes all enemies on-screen, and the "Magic Bombs" kills all enemies. These items are found in the item blocks scattered around the stages.

There are two types of stages in the game, an "Overworld" and "Underground" stage. The "Overworld stages" feature green scenery and pipe-shaped objects, along with bottomless pits for Giana to avoid. The "Underground" stages feature additional hazards such as water and fire, as well as bosses.

There are in total 32 stages in the game. Hidden "Warp-Blocks" can be found to jump through portions of the game.

Development Edit

History Edit

The Great Giana Sisters was programmed by Armin Gessert, with graphics by Manfred Trenz and a soundtrack composed by Chris Hülsbeck under the label of Time Warp Production Inc.. The first original game version was released in 1987 on Commodore 64.[3] Shortly after, it was released on Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST and MSX2. The license is currently held by Black Forest Games,[4] who have developed the modern sequel Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams.

Alleged lawsuit Edit

According to several urban legends, Nintendo opened a lawsuit case against Time Warp Productions and Rainbow Arts, because Nintendo saw a direct copyright infringement to its new game Super Mario Bros. But in fact, there has never been such a lawsuit. Neither Nintendo, nor the German programmers claim to be privy to any lawsuits. This myth was created shortly after the game was taken out of stores. Nintendo itself later admitted to have influenced the stop of sales directly, as it did already before with other games.[5]

Several factors influenced the stop of the sales of the game, including conspicuous similarities: the general gameplay and the first level of The Great Giana Sisters is nearly identical in layout to the first stage found in Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. The immediate similarity to Super Mario Bros. ensured that The Great Giana Sisters was quickly noticed by both the public and the video game industry itself. Nintendo urged the makers of The Great Giana Sisters to withdraw the game from sale, arguing that it was obvious copyright infringement. Time Warp Productions and Rainbow Arts immediately stopped the production and, at the same time, the game began vanishing from the stores.[5][6][7] The difficulty in obtaining copies of the game has led to them being sought out as collector's items.[8][9]


The game has been ported to numerous systems since its release. A planned port for the ZX Spectrum was reviewed in magazines, though eventually cancelled due to legal pressures.[3] In 1993, Dutch developer Sunrise released a version for the MSX, programmed by Jan van Valburg. Unofficially, the game has been cloned on Windows, DOS, Linux, Mac OS X, AmigaOS 4, NetBSD, AROS, MorphOS, and Symbian OS. An unofficial clone of the Commodore 64 version was also made for the Nintendo DS.[10]

In 2009,[11] a mobile version of the game, titled simply Giana Sisters, was released for Android phones, and appears in the Ouya's Discover Store at launch.[12]


Template:Video game reviews

File:Play! A video game symphony VI (526586160).jpg

Upon its release, The Great Giana Sisters received strong critical praise and acclaim from the gaming magazines across Europe. Zzap!64 described the game as "amazing" and concluded with the overall opinion that Great Giana Sisters was "a fabulous, compelling and constantly rewarding arcade adventure".[13] Powerplay's review stated that they felt the game did not live up to the standards set by Super Mario Bros., but "still achieves being an entertaining pleasure."[14]

Despite never seeing a release, the ZX Spectrum version gained favorable reviews from Spectrum-based magazines. CRASH noted that the game was "highly addictive and great fun to play. Plenty of hidden passages and surprise features should keep you hooked for weeks".[15]

Great Giana Sisters has gained a strong cult following over the years, citing its strong soundtrack and unique charm. On the online web resource Lemon64, staff member Jan Egil Romestrand remarked that the game is "must-have" for any serious C64 games collector."[16] As of 2012, it ranks 6th place on the Top 10 Games List on Gamebase 64.[17]

Chris Hülsbeck's soundtrack for the game has become one of the most popular video game soundtracks of all time. It has received over 50 remixes on the popular music arrangement resource Remix64. The music of Great Giana Sisters was featured in the live orchestra concert Symphonic Shades held in Cologne, Germany on August 23, 2008. The arrangement was made by Jonne Valtonen, and performed by the WDR Radio Orchestra. The concert was the first video game orchestra concert to be broadcast live on radio. The concert recording received an album release in 2009. The album is now out of print, but can still be bought digitally through Amazon.[18]

Since 2009 with endorsement of Manfred Trenz a fan-made open-source remake of the C64 version, called OpenGGS, is in development and is hosted on SourceForge.[19] The remake was ported to mobile devices like the Pandora in 2015.[20]


  1. Template:Cite web
  2. Sebastian Pranz: Theatralität digitaler Medien: Eine wissenssoziologische Betrachtung medialisierten Alltagshandelns. VS Verlag, 2009, Template:ISBN, pp. 202 – 209 & 221.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Template:Cite web
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. 5.0 5.1 Sebastian Pranz: Theatralität digitaler Medien: Eine wissenssoziologische Betrachtung medialisierten Alltagshandelns. VS Verlag, 2009, Template:ISBN, 202 – 209 & 221.
  6. Template:Cite web
  7. Template:Cite book
  8. Template:Cite book
  9. Template:Cite book
  10. Template:Cite web
  11. Template:Cite web
  12. Template:Cite web
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named zzap64review
  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named powerplayreview
  15. Template:Cite web
  16. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named lemon64review
  17. Template:Cite web
  18. Template:Cite web
  19. about Template:Webarchive on "As of August 2009 I have been given permission to use the C64 sprites of the original game by Manfred Trenz" (2009)
  20. on (2015)

External linksEdit