Cut the Rope has been a staggering success for Russian development studio ZeptoLab. Originally released on iOS back in 2010, the title has been downloaded over 100 million times and has spawned two popular sequels. With such impressive accolades tucked underneath its belt, it's not hard to understand why the franchise continues to be ported to other systems and devices.
The 3DS is the latest platform to be blessed with the game's presence, and ZeptoLab had previously promised that this new version would offer marked improvements over the DSiWare port, which hit the service back in 2011. The end result isn't as quite a drastic overhaul as you might think, with the title only making minimal use of the 3DS system's unique features.
Nevertheless, Cut the Rope is still a hugely entertaining title as a result of its superb puzzle design. The premise sounds simple enough: you must manipulate objects in order to move a piece of candy around the screen so that it can be fed to a strange creature called Om Nom. As you may have guessed from the title, this primarily involves you cutting ropes to which your candy is attached, although you also have to make use of floating bubbles, sliding platforms and even teleporting hats. However, it isn’t so much the objects on offer that make Cut the Rope such an entertaining little package, but rather it’s the way in which everything has been expertly blended together. You’re introduced to new objects slowly, with the game initially providing simple examples that immediately make it clear how such an item works. As you progress through each of the game’s 12 worlds, things become increasingly more difficult, as the game tests your reaction speed, timing and understanding of physics. Not only that, but hazards such as spikes and spiders are also thrown into the mix.
Therefore, the challenge really lies in working out the solution and then carrying it out flawlessly. To make things more interesting, each stage features three bonus stars, and you must follow a certain pattern if you want to get them all. It’s a feature that will naturally appeal to completionists, but it’s by no means mandatory, so it doesn’t really matter if you don’t pass each level with flying colours. Throughout the entire game the level design remains exceptionally tight, no doubt due to a considerable amount of care that has gone into meticulously placing each object. Some stages will appear seemingly impossible at first glance, but the reality is that you just need to do things in a very precise manner. It’s superbly executed and provides a great deal of satisfaction every time you successfully complete a stage.
For the most part, the touch controls are accurate and responsive, although there is one particularly noticeable flaw. One of the in-game objects allows you to slide your candy vertically or horizontally, so long as it is attached by a rope. The action of sliding itself isn’t a problem — it’s when you try to detach the candy from the slide pad. The touch area for the object is too large, meaning that it’s very difficult to cut a short piece of rope. Thankfully it doesn’t crop up too often, but it’s still very frustrating during stages where speed is quite vital.
In terms of visual presentation, Cut the Rope is a vast improvement over its DSi predecessor as a result of the 3DS’s superior screen resolution. Unfortunately though, this is the only feature that the game truly utilises. The top screen is reserved for a 3D-ified On Nom, who you can see munching candies up close. It’s likely a fun feature for small children, but it seems like such a wasted opportunity from a gameplay perspective. The top screen may not possess touch functionality, but incorporating it into the gameplay in some way (perhaps through exclusive puzzles) and making use of the system’s buttons or gyro features could have made this version truly stand out from its counterparts on other systems and devices.
In fact, the lack of exclusive content makes you question if Cut the Rope on 3DS is worth its relatively high asking price. It may not seem like much compared to other 3DS titles, but it’s double what you would pay on the Apple App Store. Given that this isn’t a simultaneously released port – not to mention 100 million downloads likely already netted a tidy profit – you’d think that ZeptoLab might have sweetened the deal by bundling in at least one of the sequels or creating brand new, exclusive content. It’s reasonable to expect that downloadable titles on 3DS will usually always cost more given the system’s smaller install base. However, this is a port of an almost three-year old game, and one which has already been hugely profitable. Therefore, it’s difficult to recommend the 3DS version if you already have access to the cheaper smartphone version.
Cut the Rope for 3DS is a faithful, yet safe port of ZeptoLab’s iOS hit and none of its exceptional puzzle-based gameplay has been lost during the transition. It’s slightly disappointing that the game doesn’t take advantage of the 3DS’s unique capabilities to provide a new experience within the franchise, and the improvements that have been made are minimal and superficial. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining puzzle package that’s worth a download, provided you don’t have access to a cheaper version elsewhere.