A Cut Above
With every Nintendo console launch comes a bevy of games seeking to validate whatever unique functionality the game-maker has packed into its new machine. The N64 had Super Mario 64. The Wii had Wii Sports. The Wii U arguably never found its “Aha!” moment, which is one of many reasons why the console failed. Thankfully, the Switch did not have to wait long for developers to capitalize on its appealing features. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is proof of concept for incredible, console quality gaming on the go, Snipperclips – cut it out together! has a similar impact for Switch’s phenomenal multiplayer potential.
With creative and intuitive co-op puzzles, Snipperclips emphatically makes its case for the nonexistent role of Switch pack-in. While the pre-release narrative centered around minigame collection 1,2 Switch, Snipperclips easily outstrips its launch sibling in both accessibility and pure fun. Players control one of two paper rectangles with a sideways Joy-con and attempt to solve puzzles by cutting each other into various shapes. Objectives range from perfectly filling a shape to sinking a basketball into a hoop, with players having to collaborate in order to find an optimal solution. As can be expected, hilarity ensues.
With a simple control scheme and immediately diagnosable problems, Snipperclips’ main gameplay hook is infectious. With only a few main commands like jump, cut, rotate and reform, the game is both easily understood and delicately intricate. Having played the game primarily with my sister and father, both of whom rarely play games, I was shocked at how quickly they took to the controls and were immersed in the game’s charm. This brilliance is brought out in the fantastic puzzle design. Each challenge’s objective is easily discernable, with the difficulty growing from each puzzle’s need for a unique solution.
The discovery of these solutions begins simple and straightforward, but quickly becomes quite difficult. The second and third “worlds” are the source of tricky puzzles that require specific manipulations of the game’s physics to solve. The fantastic design shines through in these puzzles, as they can be solved without an optimal shape but encourage players to work to discover the most streamlined solution. Cranks that had to be spun in order to raise or rotate certain structures are a perfect example of this hook. I solved a few puzzles with a certain shape that required precise movements in order to achieve success, but eventually discovered a better shape that made these stages a breeze. A perfect solution is always within reach, but puzzles do not require them for ultimate success. And with very few repeat objectives, you will always be searching for an all-new answer that challenges the understanding of the limits of the mechanics.
This is where the cooperative aspect of the game truly shines. Finding a solution with a partner that would have been unobtainable alone is immensely satisfying, and the constant brainstorming stream leads to clever and creative answers. The primary mechanic of snipping your characters into different shapes is straightforward yet complex, as later puzzles require multiple step cuts to be made between the two characters in order to achieve a certain form. The act of cutting your partner is just plain fun, and leads to many great cooperative or antagonistic moments. Nothing beats meticulously having a partner trim you into the perfect shape only to have them snip you in half. This dynamic keeps the action light and enjoyable despite the difficult later puzzles.
Much of the game’s personality is brought out through its great aesthetic and animation. The two paper characters have expressive eyes and faces that respond to the player’s actions in goofy ways, leading to many hilarious moments. Giggles after making a big cut and strenuous bouts of concentration when returning to the original shape give the game a devious personality despite its cute, colorful design. This feel fits the absurd sounding phrases that get shouted between partners on a regular basis. Phrases like “cut my bottom,” or “stick your thing in that slot” flow fast and furious, but simultaneously fit the world of Snipperclips like a glove.
The game is perfectly suited for the Joy-con, which are surprisingly instinctive to use. While it is strange at first to describe the buttons turned sideways (one Joy-con doesn’t have letters and the others are useless monikers when flipped) both of my partners immediately understood simple directions like “right button” or “down button.” With the additional straps attached, the controllers actually felt fairly comfortable, though it remains to be seen if that will be the case in more rigorous games like the upcoming Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The one complaint I have about them is the joysticks, as Snipperclips often requires precise inputs, like jumping to a specific height or crouching and moving simultaneously, that are made more difficult because of them. It is a minor issue, and one you will grow accustomed to, but still noticeable.
Other issues arise when playing outside of the typical two-player co-op levels. These levels can be played solo by switching between the two paper characters, but this robs the game of much of its charm. Rather than puzzling solutions out together you are left alone, which can be frustrating. Additionally, many levels require degrees of coordination that do not lend themselves to solo play. The game is designed with co-op in mind, but it would have been nice if it were more accessible to a single player.
A four-player co-op mode and a competitive mode are also included, but achieve varying levels of success. The four-player mode is great fun and features a small selection of puzzles that can be attempted, but is limited by its smaller scope. It can be played with two-four players, with two players each controlling two characters, but this runs into the same issues that solo players face, albeit to a lesser extreme. Because not many players own two sets of Joy-con, this issue will be a factor for most players, which is unfortunate.
The competitive mode is a fun side activity, but its games do not have much depth. Players can choose from three different minigames based on different level mechanics. Basketball sees players attempting to shoot a ball into a hoop, and is easily the weakest of the three. Hockey is played like a game of digital air hockey, and is improved by its quick pace but quickly overstays its welcome as well. Dojo is easily the best competitive game, as it revolves around cutting your opponent until they disappear. This is just as fun competitively as it is in the main levels, and remains fun through multiple playthroughs. Ultimately these games are good for small doses of silliness, and little else.
The Verdict: 8.5 out of 10
Snipperclips – cut it out together! is the perfect game to show off your brand-new Switch’s local multiplayer functionality. It features a colorful world bursting with personality and brain-tingling puzzles that are a joy to solve while laughing with friends and family. The understated brilliance of the Joy-con is on full display, as they are intuitive to pick up and play by veterans and beginners alike. While the game struggles a bit outside of its main, two-player co-op mode, the clever and varied puzzle design is well worth the price of admission. If you are looking for a game to pair with your Zelda adventure, Snipperclips is a worthy addition to your fledgling Switch library, and will undoubtedly be a source of laughs and fun for anyone who picks up a controller.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Brett Williams is an Associate Writer for MONG who has snipped his fair share of clips. Cranks are his eternal enemy. If you are interested in his nonexistent ramblings, you can follow him on twitter.