One of the best bits of any new console is the chance to get stuck into some brand new, never-before-seen games. While everyone loves a good Mario/Zelda game, what we really want to see on a shiny new machine is something that's totally different; a game that's more than just another sequel, and that tries something new. In a world where endless remasters and remakes have become the new norm, its even more of a way to make your new console stand out from the rest.
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At last week's Nintendo Switch reveal event, we got to go hands-on with the hybrid handheld/home console's somewhat limited launch line-up - and there was one game that stood out above the rest. Nestled in between mega Wii U port Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and slight Switch upgrade Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was a game we'd never heard of - nor seen anything about - named Snippeclips. And just as we'd hoped, it looks set to be one of the best games of the entire console's launch line-up.
Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together! to give it its full, and somewhat OTT name, is a co-operative puzzle game that stars two little bits of paper, shaped somewhat like half a short, stubby, paperclip. With more than a hint of Freakyforms to the art style, you'll have to work together with your friends to solve puzzles, by "redesigning" your character so they can perform certain tasks. Of course, by redesigning, we mean "run up next to your friend, and hammer the A button to take a chunk out of them" - which is where the title gets its scissors themed name.
The trick here is in overlapping your characters in just the right way. Each character is able to cut chunks out of the other at the touch of a button, and it's up to you to use the Joy-Con's shoulder buttons to rotate your character around, until you think the right bit's overlapping the right bit of your friend, before pressing A to cut a chunk out. It may sound a bit unusual, but we promise you - it's great fun, and you'll be in fits of laughter by the time you've finished the first few stages.
Our time with the Snipperclips demo started out easy enough, as we had to work together to form a silhouette of a few basic shapes - kind of like a hand shadow. First up was a heart, which didn't actually require any cutting at all - instead, all you had to do was rotate your character until it's on the diagonal (round bit at the top, straight bit at the bottom) before shuffling towards your friend to fill out the silhouette. Easy - one instant heart.
Next up was something that required a little bit more thought - a parrot. This was where the game introduced the main gimmick of Snipperclips - the ability to cut chunks out of each other, to create differently shaped characters. Simply overlap yourself with your companion and a quick press of the A button will let you hack out a highlighted chunk, letting you create a character tailor-made for solving the puzzle in question. In the case of our parrot outline, it was as simple as creating two L-shaped pieces and tessellating them into the outline - but as we soon found out, Snipperclips gets a lot more creative than that.
Starting with a spot of basketball, we found ourselves in a level with a ball-dispensing button at the one side of the screen, and a basketball hoop at the other, with the idea being to press the button, catch the ball, run it over to the net and score a basket. Which, as is always the case with these sort of games, was a lot easier said than done. First off, the button was recessed in a hole that your standard Snipperclip was too fat to fit in - a problem we solved quickly enough by cutting one of us into a bit of a hockey stick shape, and rotating the 'handle' until it managed to push the button. A neat side effect of our hockey stick shape was that it also made a pretty good receptacle for the falling basketball, although moving whilst balancing the ball proved trickier. Fortunately, our editor Ian came to the rescue, rushing over to help hold the ball in place as Team Everybody Plays slowly shuffled over to the basket - before leaping up from underneath to glitch it through the hoop. #NailedIt
However, things didn't go quite so smoothly on the next stage... Here, we had to catch a falling pencil, then navigate it across the screen, and slot it into a pencil sharpener that was propped up on a ledge - a bit of a tall order for two rounded creatures without arms.
Our first attempt was to try and keep the pencil balanced vertically, before letting it collapse just as it reached the pencil sharpener - something that proved to be a tad too ambitious, and we dropped the thing at least half a dozen times. After an... "altercation" at the start of the level, Ian ended up as a vague L-shape (only a bit of a tattered one, with various other bits cut out), which gave us a perfect back up plan - this time, we'd get one player beneath the vertical pencil as it falls, then have the other catch it as it inevitably topples over sideways, before both marching it towards the pencil sharpener. And, luckily, it worked - only perhaps a little bit too well. Getting up too much speed, the pencil overshot the target pencil sharpener, and got wedged above it. Bother. Still, never one to give up, and using Sarah's bonce as a handy step ladder, he climbed atop the pencil and set about rotating himself using the shoulder buttons, using his L shape to gradually scoop it free from the wall, before it could be safely pushed into the pencil sharpener. Job done. Overjoyed at finally freeing the pencil, we got a bit carried away and sharpened it right down to the eraser on the end. Oops.
The final stage we got to try featured a number of balloons with cute animal doodles trapped inside - and it was up to you to pop the balloons, and free the animals trapped inside, in order to finish the level. Sounds easy enough, right? And it probably would have been, had you done it the official way. You see, much like Scribblenauts, where you solve puzzles by summoning any object you can think of by simply typing it in, Snipperclips is a game all about using your imagination - and use it we did.
After another slight altercation at the start of the level (OK - pretty much every level started by running towards each other, hammering A, and laughing manically), we'd ended up with a rather unusual shape. Sarah was still pretty much intact, but Ian found himself cut somewhat awkwardly into a kind of pointed sickle. If you imagine the crushing arm on Razer from Robot Wars, you're kind of halfway there. You can probably guess where this is going.
Rather than creating a spike, we instead decided to try and CRUSH the balloons. With Ian cut into a claw-like shape, and Sarah acting as a counterweight to bring the balloons down a little, Ian set about crouching and rotating to bring the full power of his crushing claw down upon the unsuspecting balloons. Needless to say, it took a fair bit of jiggery pokery to pop our first balloon - and paired with the epically pained straining expression of the crouching Snipperclip, we had our demoer in fits of laughter (apparently no-one else had ever tried to solve the puzzle like this - we can't imagine why?), but sadly, our demo timed out before we could take out the other two balloons.
While two player co-operative play is at the heart of Snipperclips, there are a few pressing questions we'd really like to have answered. First, how do you play with just one player - is it even going to be possible? And secondly, how on earth is the game's bonus four player mode going to work? Promising to let players "solve dynamic puzzles or compete against each other in activities", precisely what this will entail is a little unclear - competitive pencil sharpening perhaps? - but if we had that much fun with the two player, we can only imagine that doubling the players will result in double the chaos!
Snipperclips was easily the highlight of the Nintendo Switch Premiere event, with its quirky co-operative puzzle-solving fun leaving us wanting to play more. Having two players huddled around the portable Switch screen, each with one of the bundled Joy-Con controllers in hand, having to work together to figure out its clever and creative puzzles was a blast, and is really the essence of what Nintendo does so well. While so many other companies focus on online above all else, Nintendo still clearly care passionately about local multiplayer - so much so, the Switch can even do local multiplayer out of the box - making Snipperclips a fantastic advert for the Switch, and a great poster-game for how the console lets people play together, any how and any where. Easily one of our most anticipated titles for the whole console, we're gutted that Snipperclips won't be making the Nintendo Switch launch day - but we'll certainly be looking forward to it when it does arrive, sometime this March! Fingers crossed they get the price right - at a tenner, this will sell to almost everyone with a Switch, but any more than that, and it'll be a much tougher proposition.