“Move to the left. No, the other left.”
“I’ll squat down, you jump on my head.”
“God damn it, cut me lower!”
If all that sounds a bit weird and troubling, wait until you play Snipperclips for yourself. It’s a bit like Twister, except without the embarrassing physical intimacy: best played with two players, it’s a puzzle game where you have to cooperate in order to solve an increasingly tricky series of tasks.
You control either Snip or Clip, a pair of paper characters who can move around like any other character in a platform game; they can jog left and right, jump and duck. The twist is that when the two characters overlap, one can cut a shape out of the other with the press of a button; by default, Snip and Clip are shaped like a filled-in capital ‘u’, but their outlines can be altered entirely by cutting little bits out of them. You can also rotate Snip or Clip’s bodies by holding down the left or right shoulder buttons on the Joy-Con; it’s by altering the pair’s shapes through cutting and rotating that you solve Snipperclips’ varied puzzles.
The greater share of the puzzles require you to manipulate Snip and Clip into a specific shape. In practice, this requires a lot of coordination between between two players as you try to figure out how to twist and chop yourselves into an area marked out by a dotted line. Others provide very different objectives; in some, you have to guide a ball across the screen to a basketball net.
In others, you have to burst balloons, and so on. Each scenario requires a lot of communication, careful positioning, and will almost certainly degenerate into a lot of accusatory tutting and sighing when things go wrong. If relations really break down, players can just run around the screen, randomly chopping bits off each other until there’s nothing but a pair of hands and feet left waving around. Or at least, that’s what happened in our experience.
You can play Snipperclips on your own, but it’s as a two-player game that Snipperclips truly shines. There’s something immensely pleasing about the simple cutting mechanic; the “Aha!” moment when you or your smarter friend figure out that cutting your character’s body into the shape of a drawing pin allows you to burst balloons more easily. Or the satisfaction of cutting just the right indentation out of Clip’s head so he (or she) can carry a ball across the screen without it rolling away. By the same token, the frustration when things go wrong – a hamster ball falling to its oblivion, a firefly that flatly refuses to be guided to a swinging bulb – is the kind of light, laughing frustration rather than the screaming, controller-wrecking rage you might get from, say, losing an online match of FIFA to an eight-year-old from Kent.
On the subject of controllers, Snipperclips is a nifty showcase for the Nintendo Switch’s flexible console design. In our experience, the best way to play Snipperclips is away from your television and on its little tablet screen, kickstand out, sat on a table, each player clutching a tiny Joy-Con. The intimacy of crowding round the Switch’s little tablet matches the contained air of the game itself, where each puzzle takes place on a single screen. Indeed, Snipperclips is markedly different from most party games, since it requires so much concentration and coordinated effort; the more rowdier the environment, the more you’re likely to struggle with Snipperclips.
This is particularly true of the puzzles designed for up to four players – with that number of moving parts, the chances of someone accidentally snipping a corner off a friend instead of jumping, or deliberately messing up a tricky puzzle just when you think you’ve got it sussed out, are exponentially higher.
In terms of length, Snipperclips probably won’t last that long if you’re determined to blitz through it; there are 66 puzzles to solve in total, with 21 of those designed specifically for two to four players, and you’ll probably be able to finish them in an afternoon or two if you and your friends are in synch. Really, though, Snipperclips isn’t a game to be completed so much as experienced; it’s more akin to a digital boardgame in this respect, since it’s as much about the interaction between friends as the action on the screen.
Less hectic than Super Bomberman R, and more involved than 1-2 Switch, two other multiplayer games now available for the Switch, Snipperclips is one of the best titles yet available for Nintendo’s new console. Just be prepared for some funny looks from your neighbours after you’ve spent long evenings shouting things like, “Yes! Yes! Yes! Cut me! Cut me! Cut me lower!”