As Nintendo is still in the business of 'concept' hardware, early adopters will have been scoping out what launch games best represent the Switch and its capabilities. 1-2-Switch showcases the Joy-Con controllers rather well, but in our review we shared reservations on whether it's worth the asking price due to questionable long-term appeal. Super Bomberman R is an excellent showcase for chaotic multiplayer, it must be said, especially if multiple Switch owners get together for some mayhem. Like Konami's title, Nintendo's Snipperclips - Cut it out, together! - developed by UK-based SFB Games - focuses on multiplayer, but brings a more cerebral and co-op approach to proceedings.
When you first load up the game it takes you straight into the 'main' mode, which is co-operative puzzle solving in which you 'snip' each other's characters into different shapes to solve various clever, physics-based puzzles. You can play solo, simply swapping between characters with a tap of the Y or top face-button on the sideways Joy-Con, but frankly that's not anywhere near as intuitive or fun. The game, tellingly, has 'two players' first in the initial option, making clear how it wants you to play.
Holding the Joy-Con on its side you actually use a surprising number of inputs. The 'shoulder' buttons rotate your character left and right, while the face buttons snip, jump and re-form your character. Snip and Clip run around in rather comedic fashion on screen, and each move is accompanied by some quirky animations and a host of humorous facial expressions. At times giggling, sometimes bizarrely sinister, these characters are absolute stars, which is impressive for two basic shapes on legs.
The initial puzzles push you into teamwork, and that's the only way to make real progress. Through practice you learn how to snip various shapes into each other, and gain an appreciation of how to create makeshift tools. Grips, ramps, gears and hooks are some early examples. Split into worlds, you need to clear blocks of five levels to unlock a special level and then the next batch, giving teams a little flexibility in skipping puzzles that they can't figure out.
This core mode succeeds, ultimately, on the strength of its puzzles. They may be single-screen affairs, but the timing and execution needed makes them challenging, and of course you have to figure out a strategy in the first place. After the initial easy stages progress for most will slow down, as you ponder and work with a teammate on some tough head-scratchers. They can take 10-15+ minutes, perhaps even more, yet clearing a tricky level is hugely satisfying. It's oddly tiring, too - we certainly felt like our weary noggin (after weeks of Switch build-up) was having to work quite hard.
What became apparent to us is that this is a game perfectly suited to showcasing the Switch concept to less active gamers. We played on the TV and in desktop mode with someone that - aside from occasional dabbles on a smartphone - is pretty close to being a non-gamer. In fact, one of the few other times we got them gaming was in Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. After a little while getting used to the controls they were hooked right along with us, and their background as an Engineer sure helped with the puzzle solving.
In essence we had someone that had recently blitzed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild playing with an almost non-gamer, and it was the latter that was more helpful. That's a key strength of Snipperclips - in its main mode its charming aesthetic, relaxed tone (no time pressures here) and cleverness combined with accessibility make it a real showcase for 'Nintendo-style' gaming, and sets it apart from other multiplayer showcases in the early days of Switch.
As for playing this mode solo, it does work and is an entirely different process. You can swap between the two characters easily and the one you drop, importantly, holds their position. We solved a few puzzles this way and, for those that are incredibly patient and happy in their own space, there's enjoyment to be found. We missed the teamwork and occasional moments of chaos that multiplayer brings, however. We do recommend that those with the game at least try and find someone to share it with.
The core mode is made up of a very decent number of stages - in themed groups - that should provide quite a number of hours for all but the most savvy of puzzle solvers. Beyond that there are two extra modes designed for 2-4 players. First up is 'Party' mode, which comprises of a decent number of slightly more complex puzzles in which you need four players, occasionally segmented off into different areas, to work together. When playing as a duo this lifts the mechanic of swapping to a second character, and it was more workable than the equivalent solo play in the main mode - in our experience. This is certainly a neat way to have a chilled out game with a small group.
'Blitz' mode is a competitive option for 2-4 players with three minigames. The basketball mode is, in our view, the one bust to be found here, as players try to bounce it around into the nets - if it lands on the floor it becomes a case of snipping shapes, but in two player that isn't actually part of the 'competitive' gameplay. The Hockey game is far more fun for a short burst, as it plays out like a quirky round of Air Hockey. Finally there's a mode where you simply have a snip fight, trying to chop each other to oblivion. A bit like Kung Foot in Rayman Legends these add-ons are fun in the right company, but not a core part of the game's experience.
In terms of presentation, Snipperclips is well suited to TV play and the Tabletop setup, which has been prominent in marketing. The characters are always a sizeable presence on screen, with the single-screen puzzles generally involving chunky buttons, levers and items with which to interact. Ultimately, as it's local co-op it matters little whether you're in the same room on a TV or hunched over the Switch screen.
The visuals themselves are well put together, and we already highlighted the charm of the character design and animation. The paper-based effect is nicely reflected in the game's physics and in the 'snip' animation, with some nice touches for elements and a whole lot of 'gloop' later in the game. Sound is cutesy and the soundtrack is enjoyable, though in one world we did turn it down due to some slightly off-putting bleeps and bloops.
Snipperclips - Cut it out, together! makes no bones about the fact it's a game best played with others, and the formula is functional but lacking a real hook in single player. When in a team, however, it transforms into an intelligent yet cute set of co-op puzzles, with plenty of content and variety to keep duos busy. It's a shining example of how games can be accessible and fun for players of any level, and in the Switch launch line-up is probably the most laid-back and flexible multiple experience available. The built-in multiplayer aspect of the Switch is played up to nicely (to the point that only Joy-Con controllers can be used), and beyond the lengthy main mode there are larger four player puzzles and a few competitive minigames (two of which are fun in short bursts).
As an opening salvo from Nintendo in publishing a 'Nindie' itself on the eShop, this stacks up well and achieves its goals - for those looking to share Switch with friends and family members of all gaming stripes, Snipperclips is an excellent option.