The Cut the Rope franchise may have risen to fame through its release on the Apple App Store, but it has also had a pretty prominent history on Nintendo’s most recent handheld systems, too. The first game in the series was originally ported to DSiWare back in 2011, before returning again on the 3DS eShop last year. However, sensing that this wasn't enough, developer Zeptolab has now enlisted the help of global publishing powerhouse Activision to distribute a physical retail version, Cut the Rope: Triple Treat. Is this the definitive version, designed to rope you in, or a cheap cash-in from which you should cut all ties?
In case the rather obvious title didn't immediately give it away, Cut the Rope: Triple Treat is a compilation of three games from the super successful puzzle series: the original Cut the Rope, Cut the Rope: Experiments and Cut the Rope: Time Travel – not bad when you take into account that other Activision-published mobile ports such as Angry Birds Star Wars featured a lot less content and asked for a higher price. Across all three titles, the gameplay remains largely the same: cut ropes, pop bubbles and manipulate other objects in a certain way to transport a tasty piece of candy across a precarious obstacle course and into the mouth of an adorable, forever hungry creature known as Om Nom. Why you need to feed him is never made clear, but it’s nevertheless enough of a good reason to motivate you through each of the games.
In keeping with the general idea behind nearly all puzzle games, getting that bonbon to where it's needed isn't always as straightforward as you might think. Each game starts off simple enough – to the extent that you can play them in pretty much any order you like – and you’re clearly introduced to a new gameplay mechanic the first time it appears. However, it doesn't take long for the challenge to ramp up, and this is where all games in the series to date have truly excelled — later puzzles require a solid understanding of the physics, as well as its many contraptions, if you don’t want Om Nom to go hungry.
Cut the Rope’s success boils down to its impeccable level design. Objects are cleverly placed so as to provide both a passable and perfect solution. The latter involves you having to collect three gold stars mid candy transit, often forcing you to look beyond the most obvious A to B route. It’s the sort of gameplay concept that will very much appeal to completionists, and with three separate games to play through it’ll also take some time to achieve 100% completion.
The difference between each of the included instalments is minimal, although the subtle changes do build upon the already impressive gameplay mechanics. In particular, Cut the Rope: Time Travel throws an extra Om Nom into the mix, meaning that you have to move multiple candies at the same time. Here, precision and timing are more key than ever, and as a result it’s worth leaving this one until after you've finished the others to maintain your interest through the hundreds of other stages available. To top it all off, there are online leaderboards and achievements for each game, features which will no doubt fan the competitive flames within some players and potentially keep them playing for longer.
This is played entirely on the touch screen, meaning that the top screen is relegated to displaying a rather pointless 3D animation of Om Nom. It’s cute, and may prove endearing to younger players, but it otherwise serves as a poignant reminder that this title is merely a collection of ports and, therefore, hasn't been designed from the ground up to use the 3DS’s unique features. Otherwise, the controls are accurate and responsive for the most part, only sometimes proving fiddly when interacting with certain objects.
In terms of content and value for money, Cut the Rope: Triple Treat does better than your average mobile port, offering over 650 stages across three games and for a reasonable price given that this is a physical release. Of course, it’s worth noting that all these titles are already available across many different mobile devices – and at a lower price, too. There isn't any exclusive content to set this game apart from the rest either, so you may want to avoid this if you already own any or all of these games on your phone or tablet.
With three games’ worth of content all stuffed on to a single 3DS card, Cut the Rope: Triple Treat is certainly the best entry in the series that you can pick up for the system. Across each instalment, the level design remains tight and expertly crafted, and although the changes between games aren’t drastic, they are at least different and entertaining enough to hold your interest from start to finish. The inclusion of achievements and an online leaderboard system for each games further adds to this. If you already have easy access to these games via a smartphone or tablet then this retail release may not be worth your cash. If you don’t, however, then Cut the Rope: Triple Treat’s asking price is reasonable enough compared to most physical releases to warrant a purchase.