Review: Snipperclips is fun and quirky, exactly what you’d expect from Nintendo
by on March 20, 2017

Out of all the games I got to experience at Nintendo Australia’s Switch event back in January (other than Breath of the Wild of course), Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together! was the one that impressed me the most. Certainly, the game sits in a very, very different category than Breath of the Wild, and this should be no surprise. Breath of the Wild is a single-player epic that will have you sitting down in front of the TV for hours at a time; Snipperclips is a fun, quirky, multiplayer puzzle game thank you’ll dabble at with friends every now and again.

But just because it’s a very different game doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. In fact, Snipperclips is fun in a way that Breath of the Wild is not; it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s hard to figure out exactly why it’s funny. Perhaps in part it’s hilarious in retrospect when you realize just how much trouble you have trying to communicate a very simple strategy. Or it could be because the incredibly cute and smarmy faces on the avatars express such a wide array of comedic emotion. It’s just got that je ne sais quoi about it. Whatever it is, within Snipperclips’ incredible quirkiness is an experience that I’ve rarely seen in video games: mind-crunching asymmetric multiplayer puzzle solving. And while Snipperclips wasn’t developed in-house by Nintendo, they did indeed publish the game, and it’s everything you’d expect from a Nintendo-published game.

Full disclosure
Nintendo of America was gracious enough to provide Zelda Universe with a download code in order to review Snipperclips.

Paper cuts have never felt so good

So technically speaking, you can play Snipperclips as a single-player experience, but personally I can’t really see why you’d want to. Well, perhaps you might consider playing alone if you can’t round up enough friends that would be into quirky puzzle games, but we readily believe the multiplayer experience is much more enjoyable really. It’s inside the framework of strategizing with a friend that really sells the concept of this game.

Technically speaking, you can play Snipperclips as a single-player experience, but it’s the multiplayer aspects that really sell the concept of this game.

So what is Snipperclips? It’s actually difficult to describe the game’s premise solely using words, but we’ll give it a go regardless. You and your friend each control (or you alternatingly control, if you’re playing single player) a character whose shape is, as best I can describe it, a filled-in “U” shape. As for your abilities, you can rotate your body, and you can jump, duck, and tiptoe about. But your most potent skill is the ability to cut your shape out of your partner’s shape. Simply put, when you and your partner’s shape overlap and you press the “snip” button, you will remove the overlapping portion out of their shape. This allows you to reshape each other to suit your needs.

Do you see a button that’s deep within a narrow gap? Snip your friend into a thin little sliver so he or she can squeeze into that gap to push it. Need to yank a cord down from high in the sky? Carve a hook into your partner so that he or she can grab it so that it can be weighed down. Does that ball need carrying? Make your partner into a scoop so he or she can safely carry that ball to where it needs to go.

You’ll find yourself needing to altar your shape for a variety of circumstances.

Communication has never been so hard

That’s the interesting concept behind Snipperclips. In a very vague sense, it reminds me of the game Scribblenauts insofar that it too allowed a rather significant degree of freedom in crafting solutions to the challenges it set before you. Snipperclips has the same vibe to it though with an entirely unique premise and context. Each level poses you with a discrete problem, and it’s up to you to execute it. And while some levels are more obvious than others, the game doesn’t strictly impose a rigorous rule on how to solve it; it’s up to you to devise a viable strategy. Oftentimes you don’t have to even cut bits out of each other, though that way can lead to significantly more challenging solutions. In this respect, you can to a degree set your own difficulty.

“Okay, just nudge that over this way. Oh wait, no I don’t have it just yet…”

The reason that this game is so amazing and amusing is the fact that these many possible solutions gets intermixed with the fact that this game is so very difficult to describe. When playing multiplayer, the primary challenge is actually coordination and communication. You may have a perfectly good idea in your head, but you have to actually tell your partner what you intend in a very clear fashion. “I need you to sit down, and I’m going to cut you,” you begin to say. (Let’s take a moment to appreciate how funny those words are in this context, by the way.) Your partner, who may have her own idea in her head doesn’t want to cooperate. Or maybe you hit the wrong button on accident, and now your entire plan is all askew. Or maybe this leads into a wild chase about the room as you cut random shapes into each other, only to end with a hilarious laughing fit.

This is why I believe that Snipperclips is an amazing multiplayer game and a mediocre single-player experience; it’s in those manic conversations and arguments over how to solve a puzzle and accidents created while snipping shapes out of each other where the pure joy of this game emerges.

Inventing new ways to play

Somehow, we actually finished the level with these shapes. Extreme challenge mode unlocked!

Advancing through the game is actually pretty straightforward. You’re first presented with eight possible levels, and you have to complete five of them to unlock a themed challenge where you and your friend must defeat solve three consecutive puzzles. If you’re successful there, you get an additional five levels (for a total of 12), and now you need to complete five out of the leftover seven to unlock the final level. Defeat another similar three-challenge stint, and you’ll unlock the next world. This means that you don’t have to solve every level to make forward progress, which is a blessing for later in the game.

Challenges range from using your two bodies to fill in a very specific shape, cutting shapes out of some background object, or fulfilling some wacky objective like pulling specific fish out of an aquarium. The game really gives unique challenges, and many of the later levels are big head-scratchers. But every time you figure one out, you feel accomplished. You feel successful. Victory will never have been so sweet, and that partially comes from having to get past that communication barrier that fights against you.

However, it doesn’t just stop with a one- or two-player mode. There is actually another mode — Party — with adds to the mayhem by increasing the complexity to four characters. You can play this mode with just two players (each player controlling two shapes just as you might in one-player mode); however, if you have two sets of Joy-Cons you can have a four-player party. And if you’re not feeling very puzzle-happy on the day of your group gathering, you can opt for playing some party games instead in Blitz mode. Play basketball with Snipperclips, where half the fun is snipping off your opponents while you’re carefully bouncing the ball on top of your head. There’s also a “dojo” mode where you’re trying to snip each other into oblivion. And you can also play Hockey, which is essentially a variant of air hockey. There are a lot of ways to play.

Snipperclips is a great launch addition

Snipperclips might not be a Zelda title, but given that the Switch’s launch lineup doesn’t have a bevy of first-party titles or even big-name third-party titles, we certainly recommend snagging it. If you bought a Switch for Breath of the Wild, I have to say it’s worth your money to get Snipperclips as well for when you’ve toted your Switch to a friend’s house to show off your new system. It’s fun and funny, and it definitely offers some good old Nintendo charm.

The only downsides we had were that we felt that we were constantly pressing the wrong buttons on the Joy-Con controllers. We’re not sure if it’s just an aspect of the Joy-Cons being a little awkward on their own or if the controls themselves are awkward, but it’s one of those things we ought to mention. We also do wonder how long the enjoyment will last. We haven’t played through the entire game as of yet, and while each level has been unique enough so far, similar themes have been resurrected multiple times within the first several worlds. But that said, it will certainly work well as a party game when multiple friends come over.

All in all, if you’ve got a Switch and want a second game for it (or if you’re somehow already tired of Zelda??), Snipperclips is worth purchasing we feel, especially considering the very attractive price point for it (US$19.99/AU$30). It will certainly show off the Switch’s capabilities in a very different way than Breath of the Wild would.

Score 8.5/10
David Johnson
David Johnson, a.k.a. "The Missing Link," was once the webmaster of both Zelda: The Grand Adventures and ZeldaBlog. He works as a software engineer in the games industry. David also pontificates about Zelda, writes features and guides for ZU, and obsesses about CD-i.