Snipperclips is a launch title with a Nintendo touch for a Nintendo platform; it is hard to ask for any more than that
Two anthropomorphic popsicle shaped sheets of paper running around simple scenarios that completely fit onto a small screen while trying to solve puzzles by snipping pieces off one another to change their shapes. That right there is the summary of the premise of Snipperclips, one of the Nintendo Switch’s digital launch titles and certainly a piece of software that ranks among the most original and charming efforts to ever hit Nintendo’s library of download-only games. And nothing speaks more for its inherent simplicity and universal appeal than the fact Snipperclips is often mistaken for a first-party title; after all, Nintendo has a lengthy history filled with electronic products that embrace straightforward and somewhat ridiculous concepts that sound way too fun to be ignored, and Snipperclips would seamlessly fall into place among the likes of Rhythm Heaven, WarioWare, Pushmo, and other secondary franchises that use such qualities as their calling cards.
Coined by the small indie studio SFB Games and published by Nintendo itself, which must have unquestionably seen a lot of its brand of creativity when glimpsing at Snipperclips, the game is more than an appealing little gem of a launch lineup that was clearly lacking in terms of noteworthy exclusives. It is a title that takes advantage of the Switch’s hardware in three fronts. Firstly, there is how its minimalistic presentation and gameplay make Snipperclips be a highly portable game, one in which there is little loss in the transition between the television and the system’s built-in screen; secondly, its division into forty-five brief stages walks hand-in-hand with the Switch’s duality as a home console that also happens to be a handheld, given Snipperclips can be enjoyed both in long sessions and short bursts; finally, the game is especially fun when played alongside others, which is perfect for the on-the-fly multiplayer the Switch supports with its two detachable Joy-Cons.
Snipperclips is played with the Joy-Cons turned sideways, like NES controllers with far more buttons and mind-blowing technology; and even though the goal of each of its levels is rather basic – using Snip and Clip to cut one another into shapes that will be useful to solving the puzzle – the controls are surprisingly complex for a game of its kind. The shoulder buttons are used to rotate the characters clockwise and anticlockwise; meanwhile, the face buttons allow Snip and Clip to jump, cut, regenerate their bodies either step-by-step or completely, and – if only one player is controlling both characters – switch between them. With so many possible actions to perform, inexperienced players may feel a bit overwhelmed with having to remember which button does what; that longer-than-average learning curve, though, can be navigated without frustration since Snipperclips lets gamers tackle its challenges at their own pace and leaves plenty of room for mistakes thanks to the ability to undo cuts that have been performed.
Although the game’s forty-five stages center around the same action of overlapping regions of the bodies of Snip and Clip and, like a child in art classes, making the cuts little by little so that the piece of paper will take on a shape that will serve its purpose, there is quite a bit of variety to them. Some require that players combine Snip and Clip into an outlined shape, such as that of a heart; others feature large sheets of paper that must be cut into a specific format, such as a rocket; while action-based challenges will have both characters interacting with levers, moving objects around, altering the flow of liquids so that they reach a certain place, popping balloons, fishing, helping a little doll get home by carving a path on paper, and more.
As a somewhat disappointing twist, those levels are grouped into three sets of fifteen, with each taking place in a thematic world. The changes that occur in the transition between those themes, though, are mostly relegated to the visual realm; there are considerable shifts in the stages’ consistently alluring art styles, but the overall mechanics of Snipperclips remain unaltered and there are no remarkable theme-exclusive elements to be found, turning the groupings into more of a formality than something that is relevant to the gameplay.
Snipperclips is a lot of fun in the way it requires a creative kind of reasoning, as Snip and Clip are the unpolished canvas with which players must work to solve the problems the game throws at them, making it unlikely two people will solve the same puzzle by employing the same strategy. That nature of not only finding but also building a solution makes the game even more delightful when two people are involved, as it becomes utterly imperative they interact with one another and think together to reach common ground, because – without the other – Snip and Clip are nothing but useless popsicles with legs.
Since there is so much freedom in the solving of Snipperclips’ puzzles, one problem arises, which is how some of them (especially those that are more action-focused) can be solved by sheer brute force. In other words, at times, if players try hard enough, it is possible to clear a level without snipping the characters into the shapes that would be more adequate to do so. While some will positively appreciate that such a possibility exists (after all, there is always a certain beauty and an added replay value in a puzzle game that allows more than one answer to its riddles), such feature becomes a level design issue when finesse is excluded from the equation behind the solution and is replaced by strength, as it is the case with some of the stages here.
Snipperclips smartly recognizes its main strength lies in bringing people together around its clever concept and explores that prowess by complementing the forty-five puzzles of its main campaign, which can be played solo or as a pair and that should take about four hours to be cleared, with a smaller set of stages that are multiplayer-exclusive. Those are mainly divided into two types: cooperative and competitive.
The former are much like the ones from the main campaign, with the natural difference that it takes a whopping four characters to deal with the problems that are proposed, hence considerably increasing the need for interaction and the madness, and potential fights, that ensue. The latter, meanwhile, run straight into the accessible and easy-to-grasp nature of the Mario Party mini-games by throwing the smiling pieces of paper into arenas where they will face off in frantic versions of basketball, air-hockey, and even a rather brutal take on the free-for-all Super Smash Bros. combats, with the caveat that the goal here is to cut one’s opponents into nothingness in order to score points. As fun and hilarious as those competitive activities may be, though, they ultimately suffer from shallowness: they are way too simple to hold the interest of players and maintain the outbursts of laughter for too long. Nevertheless, they are certainly a welcome addition to what is an already impressive package of multiplayer gaming.
Snipperclips has clear room for improvement in a few key areas, but the quality and cleverness of its concept are just too big to be denied, and the wonderful multiplayer sessions the game produces make it easy for one to overlook its flaws. As the initial exploration of a brilliant idea, it may not take it as far as it undoubtedly could, but it does a pretty great job at making it materialize in a game that is full of charm and engaging levels. And even though it is not a title that could only have been made for the Nintendo Switch – as its gameplay would be easily portable to other platforms – it succeeds in understanding what the console is about and using its notable features to its own benefit. Snipperclips is a launch title with a Nintendo touch for a Nintendo platform, and it is hard to ask for any more than that.