In Snipperclips: Cut it out, together!, the urge to cut your friends out of malice—and not for actual problem solving help—is strong. It makes the gaming experience just as frustrating as it is fun. But best of all, under that playful bit of co-op devilry is a very smart game.
Released as an eShop download Switch exclusive, Snipperclips is a co-op venture where one to four players can snip and clip their way to solving many of the game’s varied puzzles. These puzzle problems may involve clipping out shapes to fill-in the blanks, or cutting around shapes to get a match. Cleverly, there are also dynamic levels that feature moving environments such as catching a swimming fish in one tank and transferring it to another. Other puzzles will require a round of basketball, turning wheels to activate platform lifts, or stopping a miniature, adorable alien invasion.
To do any of this, players control U-shaped avatars with spindly legs named Snip and Clip (surprise!), with the abilities to cut each other’s bodies out into desired shapes to meet puzzle objectives. This, of course, comes courtesy of some brainpower and creativity on players’ parts. Along with jumping, ducking, and rotating functions which utilize Nintendo Switch’s joy-con in horizontal positions in 2-4 player modes; the avatars of Snipperclips are built to take on many of the game’s puzzles in some obvious ways, while other levels offer some different takes to get the jobs done.
Snipperclips features colorful simplicity in its presentation but it’s charming all the same. The pink and yellow avatars (the two while playing in the game’s main 2-player campaign) on the clean backgrounds add to its playful look and nature. The characters themselves offer emotion when they’re up to no good, or victims of cutting crimes. Their eyes, mouths, and vocal gestures are expressive. They’re able to emote surprise, displeasure and wickedness, which is not only hilarious given their basic designs but also funny in how they aptly express players’ own discontent when fumbling through any given puzzle.
Puzzle components are super cute even if minimalist. Look at these fish, for instance:
These are the kind of fish anyone could draw but they work for that hodgepodge aesthetic Snipperclips goes for. It’s sort of an educational representation associated with grade school—at time when learning is presented as fun and with flair. This is perfect for a game that relies on putting minds together to overcome tasks.
The music may be a little repetitive at times as some of it loops in short increments but it’s just as colorful in what it portrays. There’s happiness in these notes. In some levels, the music isn’t at the forefront, instead relying on sound cues to highlight mess-ups in problem solving, or to administer a relatively quiet thinking space for concentration.
And then there’s that one level that does a bit of both—the evil first round with some sleeping blobs—that has screaming globs of...something...layered over music that is theoretically blissful and peaceful. However, mounting frustration in trying to complete it makes the music sound like taunting failure.
Overall, with my personal grudge against the blobby aside, Snipperclips has an undeniable quirk in how it looks, and how it plays which attributes to its charming presentation. It’s cute and unassuming.
Don’t be fooled, however, because the game sports some inspired challenges.
If you’re fortunate like I am, you’ll have an intuitive person accompanying you on your puzzling journey through Snipperclip’s three themed-worlds of the main campaign, each filled with 15 levels. In my case, I had my 10 year old nephew’s astute mind to assist in tackling whatever the game threw at us.
Our favorite was the final world which was also featured some of the most challenges. It was a science themed-board with puzzles which had cutting each other in strange ways to turn wheels in order to water plants to reach their true growth potential. There was also a model of a solar system with our objective to align the planets using some sharp cuts and rotation to push levers towards different lengths. It’s this second puzzle where things got a little dicey. It’s not so much we didn’t know the solution, but it was very much our execution.
Snipperclips doesn’t often demand absolute perfection to get something done, and crude cutout shapes could still give you a result you’re looking for—particular cuts do not have to look pretty but they do have to be functional. In this specific puzzle, however, it took a bit more finesse to complete. Some of that finesse is a game of trial and error. Re-shaping, re-clipping, re-adjusting. This happens in a few of the harder puzzles but none of the puzzle solutions had us scratching our heads for too long.
The challenge often lies in the aforementioned execution, particularly with the mishaps that could happen with a partner in crime. The puzzles are fun to figure out and it’s fun witnessing the end results, even if most of solutions are obvious. But how some of the puzzles are designed is where creativity shines largely in part because it forces players to be creative in their cutting teamwork. There are mini-games within the game such as the adventure in getting an anime princess to safety by tunneling (while collecting diamonds), all under a retro style of gaming as an interesting tribute too.
By now, you may have seen or read about antics involving netting a basketball. With two players, Snipperclips is fun all its own. But Party Mode and Blitz Mode with four players is when things can get intense. A riveting game of basketball can get pretty cutthroat depending on your players (and this is when cutting your opponents’ bodies to mess them up works in your favour, and sometimes required). There’s always an increase in antics when more players are involved.
Even though Party Mode can be played with two or three players, it works best with four players. This is due to the fact that when one player is asked to control more than one avatar, things get unnecessarily complicated. This is also true of playing Snipperclips’ main 1-2 Player campaign in solo mode. More on this further in the review.
In the 1-2 player main campaign mode, there are 45 levels to clip your way into. While the puzzles are creative, and some may require a bit more brain power than others, it’s not difficult to finish the game quickly. This is something I experienced first hand when my nephew and I completed it in a few hours (under 5 if the Switch’s playtime data is to be believed which I don’t quite buy). It’s not a bad length considering you could get a game going with others for Party Mode which comes with more puzzles to do. Still, we were surprised by how we flew through the main game so quickly.
While the main game can be played solo, that’s not its selling point. A lot of the fun of Snipperclips comes with having a partner to shout directions to and vice versa. It creates potential havoc, and moments where players—together—can feel a sense of accomplishment.
Beyond that, solo campaign is difficult to execute. When played with a partner as previously noted, the joy-con are used in their horizontal positions. Each button is mapped for specific actions for jumping, clipping and reforming your avatars if need be. In solo mode, which can be played as a Switch handheld or with the joy-con detached and held vertically, the game requires you to swap bodies to control both characters.
The button mapping and switching in between avatars feels a clunky process. Quick reactions are needed to move between characters and setting up a solution can take too long. In the time it takes to switch to a character, a second player could already be positioned or gearing to move to do something else. Generally, it slows down how the game should be played. Solo mode makes it awkward and stilted.
It’s possible to do but removes half of what is unique to the puzzle adventure when played alone, in that it’s not as much fun figuring things out on your own without someone to potentially screw up your movements or there to assist. It’s also tedious doing the swap from character to character to solve a puzzle. The game describes single player mode as “tough” but it’s not a fun, challenging type of tough but the kind of challenge that comes with awful controls. It really changing the game into something it’s not.
For this very reason, playing Party Mode with anything less than four people is not ideal. In this mode, there are always four avatars to solve the puzzles and so it adopts this practice of having one player control more than one avatar when trying to play with two or three players, which is just not fun.
Simply put, Snipperclips is designed for co-op play but more specifically: each avatar should be controlled by a single person.
We’re just a few weeks into Nintendo Switch’s launch. There are other games to consider purchasing with some of them being ports of things you may have played before. Some games are not so great, achieving what they set out to do by being small bursts of fun for party gatherings and not much else (Yes. That’s you 1 2 Switch).
Having The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go is wonderful, but if you’re feeling burnt out now or are considering tearing yourself away from it for a moment, try Snipperclips (with the caveat you have a local co-op partner to play with).
This small game with its joyful heart does a whole lot of interesting things in its design. Puzzle aficionados will appreciate flexing their wits even if it’s not a difficult game. But it’ll bring friends and family together in creative ways, even if just for a few hours to cut each other up.
All images via screen capture.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in. Follow us on Twitter@KoTAYku and Like Us on Facebook.