“This game is destroying our friendship,” one of my friends remarked, using a Joy-Con to steer a geometric character into position under a basketball hoop. “It’s worse than Monopoly. Why do I like it?”
The game is Snipperclips, and it’s one of the few titles to grace the Nintendo Switch at launch. It’s got a premise that’s easy to understand with a visual example, but is difficult to describe in words: flat construction paper-like characters Snip and Clip get into position to overlap with one another, “cut” out the area of overlap, and use their resulting trimmed shapes to solve puzzles. For example, Snip might cut a “scoop” shape out of Clip so that Clip can carry a ball across the level.
A single character can’t modify its shape by itself, so teamwork is necessary to clear the game’s puzzles. While the bulk of them (found in World mode) can be solved in single player, with the player swapping back and forth between controlling Snip and Clip, the game is at its best with two players to put their heads together, snip each other into oblivion, and miscommunicate while building an impromptu shorthand vocabulary of “Gear-piece! Spike! Scoop! Backwards L!”
Your abilities never get more complicated than cutting the other player into itty-bitty pieces, but the objectives of each puzzle change from level to level. In some, you’ll have to use spatial reasoning and some careful cutting to fit Snip and Clip inside a silhouette. Others will have you trying to find the right shape to move objects across the screen, whether that’s getting a pencil point-first into a pencil sharpener, keeping aliens away from a rising UFO beacon, or herding green goop away from vulnerable sleeping blob babies. Still more will have your shape correlate to larger pieces of the puzzle. There’s a pretty wide variety, and most puzzles return with more difficult iterations in later levels.
The real difficulty, though, is not so much about figuring out how to solve the puzzle as it is in carrying out the solution. It’s usually pretty easy to understand what you need to do—turn a gear or form a shield or become a scoop—but cutting everyone into the right shapes and getting the timing of the exaggerated cartoon physics down can take a few tries. It’s a real test of friendship and teamwork, but there’s a bit of beauty in this sort of puzzle design: it allows for multiple “solutions,” or rather, multiple “executions of the solution.” The levels will always be the same, but you can achieve a form of replayability by coming up with different ways to accomplish your goal in each.
Though Snipperclips is fun, it’s not without its problems. It’s clearly meant to be played with two players, and runs great that way—but it also offers options for one, three, or four players, and they all boil down to “two-player mode, but worse.” Single-player is two-player, but with awkward swapping back and forth between the characters. Four-player is two-player, but twice. Three-player is an awful mix of the same four-player levels, but with one person having to swap back and forth between two characters a la single-player—yuck.
There’s also a few other modes such as Blitz, which offers players the chance to goof off in three different arenas without any puzzles to solve. Dojo is a free-for-all space to rush your friends and cut them up in a battle for supremacy, Hoops is an arena with two nets, a ball, and a scoreboard, and Hockey offers two goals and a puck. While these modes are good for blowing off steam when you’re getting frustrated with your teammates, it’s pretty clear that the arenas were an afterthought. The games on offer are extremely shallow, and though they’re not necessarily trying to be anything more, it does feel like a missed opportunity. The arenas are basically empty boxes for players to make their own fun, but they could have been legitimate games with even a little bit of thought. For example, maybe give players a five second countdown to cut shapes before locking them in for a basketball game, put a barrier in the middle for 2v2 puzzle solving, or heck, even just throw in an AI companion so that three-player hockey isn’t always two against one.
Despite all of that, the core of Snipperclips is pretty good—as long as you’ve got a decent teammate. The puzzles range in difficulty from “pretty easy” to “moderate,” with one or two real head-scratchers thrown in. The objectives are easy enough to understand that even kids shouldn’t have a problem, while a cute design and the silly faces the characters make when getting squashed or snipped add a lot to the game’s charm. If there’s one flaw, it’s that Snipperclips overreached in adding modes and multiplayer options and didn’t flesh all of them out properly—but the heart of the gameplay is still solid.
Snipping your construction paper friends into different shapes is a clever idea, and one that will test the limits of your real-life friendships. Cute squishy faces and grade school-esque design add to Snipperclips' charms, though they're slightly offset by some shallow additional game modes and wonky multiplayer.
E - Everyone
|Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together! is available on Switch. Primary version played was for Switch. Product was provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.
Emma’s early gaming was mostly done in secret, as the only gamer in a family of normal people. She still retains skills from this dark period in her life, such as the ability to teleport instantly across the house away from the computer, and holds a gold medal in the Olympic sport of “Hide the Gameboy.” Sorry, Mom, now you know.