Challenges Completed Video Games

Completed #4 – Giana Sisters: Dream Runners

Ugh.

This isn’t very good. It isn’t a very good game, and it isn’t a very good experience for an achievement hunter, despite being quick and relatively easy, depending on how the game’s randomness is feeling at the time. It took me under an hour, which is the quickest I’ve ever done it, and it still frustrated me a great deal. These are the sacrifices I make so you don’t have to, I guess.

So, Giana Sisters: Dream Runners is a hybrid 2D platformer and racer, in which the objective is to bounce and sprint through gaudily-coloured environments – they all have silly names like Soarstone Crag and Stranglevine Ruins – until you gain enough of a lead to push your opponents off-screen. This isn’t an entirely novel idea (those Doritos Crash Course games did more or less the same thing), but it isn’t an inherently terrible one; the problem here is that none of it works.

Why? There are plenty of reasons. One is the quality of the level design – it just isn’t good enough to accommodate either style of play; certainly not both at once. The camera is necessarily distant, but the levels are so visually busy, and the audiovisual feedback so lacklustre, that it’s difficult to tell what’s going on at any given moment. The characters are all the same palette-swapped model, and the various power-ups are pretty more than functional, so it all adds to the confusion. Worse still is that the levels aren’t built for fluidity or flow, giving each race a halting rhythm that exacerbates all the issues with the AI’s randomness. Playing this game is a nightmare. It’s like tripping on acid and being repeatedly slapped.

And fuck me, the races can drag. Once the fourth-place racer has been eliminated, a countdown timer starts, with the winning star awarded to whoever’s in first place when it hits zero. But actually eliminating anyone can be hard work, sometimes. Being in first place means you’re often too close to the edge of the screen to respond to upcoming hazards, which stun you briefly and bunch the pack back up again such that it takes several minutes for anyone to fall far enough behind. There’s even a weird glitch on one of the maps that randomly eliminates you if you get too far ahead – which is the whole fucking point of the game.

Still, though, easy achievements and all that. Well, I should say, easy achievements if the game feels like it. Depending on how all the various factors coalesce, you can beat the whole game in less than an hour, like I did this time, or anywhere upwards of two or three, which is how long it took me on my primary account. Nothing is too taxing in theory. It’s all winning races against bots on the various maps, and all the miscellaneous shit will pop while you’re doing that. But this is a terrible game that throws so much random nonsense at you that the simple achievements are a small reward for suffering through the experience.

Unless you’re a maniac like I am, do make sure you skip this.

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