You may never have heard of this game, and it extreme similarity with Super Mario Bros. The similarity was so much that Rainbow Arts was forced to withdraw the game from sale almost as soon as it was released under legal pressure from Nintendo. The cover of the C64 version, even went so far as to taunt Nintendo with the tagline “The brothers are history”.
The withdrawal obviously increased the rarity, and the whole situation sure helps the desirability of the game.
Since Nintendo has historically avoided porting its console titles to home computers, it is likely that the game was developed to cash in on the popularity of Super Mario Bros., and to provide a similar experience to home computer owners with no interest in buying a NES. The game has two playable characters: the single-player character Giana (mirroring Mario’s status as the prominent Mario Brother), and Maria. In Giana Sisters DS, Maria does not appear. Instead, Giana gets a transformation called Punk Giana.
In Super Mario Bros., the main characters (Mario and Luigi) could collect Super Mushrooms. The mushrooms caused the characters to grow taller, and withstand a single attack without losing a life. Damage caused after collecting a Super Mushroom would revert the characters to their original small state. The mushrooms were hidden in blocks, and could be freed by jumping into the underside of the block. In Great Giana Sisters, the sisters (Giana and Maria) would collect brightly-colored balls from blocks, which caused their hairstyle to change from braids-and-bows into brightly colored Mohawk haircuts. In both games, the alternate state of the characters gave them the ability to break blocks with their heads (in actuality, Mario and Luigi punched the blocks from below). Many of the enemy sprites bore strong similarities to the enemies in Super Mario Bros., and in addition to very similar backgrounds and areas, some of the map layouts used were virtually identical to levels in the Nintendo flagship game.
Starting from level 3, the game breaks with the Super Mario level design and introduce “unique” features such as disappearing platforms or bricks that consolidate into boulders when the player tries to break them with her head. Power-ups are more varied than in Super Mario series, including 3 types of fireballs (regular shot, bouncing shot and homing shot) as well as special items that allow the sisters to walk through fire or temporarily freeze all monsters on screen later in the game. Unlike the Super Mario series, there is no special fixed location for 1-UP lollipops; they will be available in the same power-up blocks after the whole sequence of power-ups have been shown. Moreover, Giana/Maria will lose the current ‘extra power up’ (bomb, clock or droplet) as soon as she collects another ‘extra power up’ or a 1-UP lollipop, which introduces additional strategy in the gameplay.
A series of ‘warp blocks’ are hidden across the levels, allowing the astute player to by-pass some of the harder levels.