Weird and wonderful cooperative puzzling
This game was reviewed using an eShop code provided by Nintendo for Nintendo Switch.
Prior to the launch of the Switch, Nintendo held several hands-on events for the console in various regions. A number of games were shown off at these events, and I remember titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe garnering most of the attention. It makes sense, of course; these are big-name Nintendo franchises with major history behind them.
But one title really caught my attention: a quirky little puzzle game called Snipperclips. Standing next to the other Nintendo big guns, it looked downright charming — like a lovingly-crafted indie game that seemed naturally suited to the Switch. I was eager to check it out.
And then Breath of the Wild came along and consumed my life for a good month and a half. I’m sure that’s also true for the vast majority of Switch owners. If you’re like me and you are finally starting to emerge from your Hyrule coma, the big question is: what do I buy next for my Switch?
If you’re curious to know whether or not Snipperclips is the answer to this question, read on.
What is Snipperclips, anyway?
The basic premise of Snipperclips is almost deceptively simple: it’s a puzzle game for up to four players, and it’s roughly divided into two halves. One half involves the World mode, which contains a series of levels that up to two people can tackle together. Each player controls their own character (Snip or Clip) that take the form of 2D paper cut-outs that can rotate in place. In addition to having a range of movements (you can walk, jump, crouch, and stand tall on your toes), you can actually overlap each other, which is where the real magic happens: when one player overlaps the other, they can cut out the overlapped portion, thus altering the other player’s shape. The ability to snip each other into varying shapes is key to solving the game’s many brainteasers, which involve everything from fitting yourselves inside a specific shape, guiding a pencil into a sharpener, and even simulating a 2D platformer by cutting out pathways and guiding a third character through them.
There are two other modes beyond the standard World mode: Party and Blitz. The Party mode is specifically designed to provide cooperative challenges for additional players, whereas the Blitz mode is a strictly competitive affair, offering up a number of games like basketball and snipping deathmatches.
Let me say right at the outset that while you can play Snipperclips as a solo experience, this is clearly not ideal. I began by playing the World mode on my own, and although there’s fun to be had, the experience for just one player is lacking. The main reason is simple: you’re always required to utilise both Snip and Clip, and if you play on your own, you’ll need to frequently switch back and forth between the two characters to make it through a puzzle. For some of the earlier puzzles, this works fairly well and can be pretty enjoyable. But you’ll soon come across puzzles where the need to control Snip and Clip simultaneously is a must — in one puzzle, for example, a basketball drops from the top-left of the screen and you have to run it to a basket on the far right of the screen. Puzzles like this can feel cumbersome as a solo experience.
Snipperclips’ World mode immediately feels more comfortable with a second player — it’s pretty clear that the game was designed to be played this way. The first few levels will help you and a friend get your feet wet before you dive right into the deep end; you’ll quickly learn that a good combination of lateral thinking and clear communication are paramount to complete the tougher puzzles. There’s something hilarious about getting close to the end of a puzzle, only to have your buddy “accidentally” snip half of your body off — at the same time, there is a major sense of satisfaction (and sometimes relief) when your strategising and coordination pay off with a completed level.
In this sense, Snipperclips reminds me of the best of Nintendo’s wonderful tradition of local cooperative games, where the focus is about sitting together in the same room and sharing and experience.
The more head-scratching challenges will definitely test your friendships though, so be warned.
The more the scarier
Snipperclips really kicks into high gear when you start adding more players. Party mode contains a selection of puzzles that mirror various stages in World mode that have been slightly modified to operate with four players simultaneously. If you think solving logic puzzles with two people is hard enough, just wait until you’ve got four people playing together — clear communication is even more vital, and the room for error is even greater.
The developers have cleverly catered for a greater number of players as well; many of the puzzles separate the players into “teams” of two, which enables both sets of players to coordinate without the entire game becoming too chaotic.
If you run out of steam in Party mode and need a break, Blitz mode offers the perfect palate cleanser: it is essentially the battle mode of Snipperclips, offering up three separate competitive challenges: a free-for-all basketball game, 2-vs-2 air hockey, and a free-for-all “death match” (where each player has three lives and has to “snip” each other to death).
My favourite challenge was definitely the air hockey game. Like real air hockey, there’s a tension between aggressively guiding the puck into the opposing team’s goal (in this case, the puck is actually a button) and defending your own goal. Snipperclips adds the devious twist of being able to snip opponents, which means that it’s possible to snip the opposing team’s goalie in half to allow the puck through. To make matters even more hectic, you can snip your own teammate too; I can tell you that my team lost a number of goals due to indiscriminate snipping!
Needless to say, a round of Snipperclips starts quietly and ends with a room full of laughing and shouting. I played a good amount of four player challenges with my family, and several of us ended up doubled-over from laughing so hard.
I think this is exactly what the developers, SFB Games, intended. Snip and Clip, despite being little more than scraps of paper on the screen, are full of personality. Their facial expressions are priceless; Snip and Clip’s eyes follow each other, and they express different emotions when they are snipped — sometimes a concerned grimace will be followed up by an audible gasp, and other times they’ll look shifty and chuckle out loud. It’s hilarious, and the impact is heightened even more with four characters on screen at once.
The cheerful — and very Nintendo — soundtrack adds to the hilarity, primarily because it can feel so divorced from what’s happening on screen (especially in the death match challenge, where four-player carnage is set to the backdrop of cutesy, innocent melodies).
I thoroughly enjoyed Snipperclips. In many respects, it’s a game that leverages the core strengths of the Switch itself; remember that you get two Joy-Con right out of the box, which means you can immediately jump into cooperative play without needing to purchase an extra controller.
The bright and minimalist art design also means that while you can certainly play on a TV, it’s possible to comfortably play in handheld or tabletop modes — so if you want to whip out your Switch for a quick puzzle challenge and then put it back to sleep, you can.
There are really only two caveats that I can think of here. First, if you aren’t a fan of puzzlers/brainteasers at all, then you might be better off waiting for Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which comes out at the end of April. Second, if you intend to play this game solo, be warned: this is the least fun way to play, and you won’t be getting the most out of its various modes.
Snipperclips is a unique and clever title that takes advantage of the Switch’s unique hardware features, all while delivering an experience that feels like nothing else I’ve played before. If you enjoy puzzle games and you have a few friends to join you, then I highly recommend it.
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