Snipperclips, Super Bomberman R, and More: Hands-on with Nintendo Switch multiplayer titles
Nintendo has been touting the social aspects of their upcoming Nintendo Switch console since day one. Aside from the new Zelda and a handful of others, the majority of Nintendo-developed and third-party games coming to Switch emphasize multiplayer. I’ve had a chance to play most of the multiplayer games expected to arrive around launch, and here’s a sneak peak at what you can expect.
(Note: all multiplayer hands-on sessions were local, as Nintendo’s online service is launching on March 3.)
Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!
Release Date: March 3, 2017
With a name like Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! you just know this eShop game is bound to be odd (and it is).
In this 2-player demo, a partner and I controlled a pair of cartoony paper characters shaped like popsicles called Snip (the pink one) and Clip (the yellow one). Once we assumed control of these two, we had to take a moment to admire how ridiculously cute they were in motion. Their gangly legs stretch in awkwardly delightful ways, but it was the spry drawn-on facial expressions that really stole the show. Maybe I’m a softy, but it was virtually impossible to not immediately fall in love with them.
During our play test, each level had different objectives. At first, we were required to perform simple tasks, like overlaying our characters to form a heart shape. Later, we had to figure out a way to transport an oversized pencil into a sharpener.
In order to solve puzzles, you need to overlap the characters and “snip” off pieces. This can be done in all kinds of amusing ways, from dipping down to trim off your partner’s lower half, to jumping on their head to carve out a bowl shape. Should you ever lob off the wrong parts, you can reform the characters at any time.
What’s particularly neat is there’s no prescribed way to complete levels—you’re encouraged to be inventive. In the above pencil example, I first trimmed my partner into a thin block. Then, he snipped a rectangular hole in my character’s body wide enough for me to carry the pencil with. Using your imagination to find fun, creative ways to interact with the environment and solve puzzles is what makes this game so fun.
With this being a physics-based game, you can expect lots of silly moments. In one scenario, we had to catch a falling basketball on the left, and throw it into a basketball net on the right. You only get one shot to catch the ball though, and if you fumble it’ll bounce along the floor creating a whole new problem in the process.
Without a doubt, my time with Snipperclips was an unexpected high point in the Nintendo Switch launch line-up. I was initially drawn in by its quirky charm, but it’s the playful experimentation and trial-and-error gameplay that makes this game such a joy to play. While Zelda and 1-2-Switch are sure to grab the lion’s share of attention during the console’s launch, don’t let this entertaining eShop title fall below the radar.
Super Bomberman R
Release Date: March 3, 2017
If it feels like it’s been a long while since we’ve seen Bomberman, that’s because it has – seven long years to be exact. Following the closure of Hudson Soft in 2012, this is the first game to be developed by its new owner, Konami.
Instead of using that time to reinvent the series, Konami has gone the safe route with Super Bomberman R. The familiar game system and controls are back, complemented by improved 3D stages that make this the best-looking version yet. While I would like to have seen a more ambitious approach, Super Bomberman R delivers a traditional Bomberman experience in perhaps its greatest incarnation yet.
The game includes a 2-player cooperative Story Mode featuring 50 stages, but for my hands-on demo I was only able to try 4- and 8-player Battle Mode. Aside from improved polygonal characters and higher resolution textures, there was virtually nothing fans haven’t seen in past Bomberman games. Your goal— to be the last person standing—remains the same, as are the power-ups you’ll collect. Skates to increase speed, Fire to increase bomb radius, Boxing Glove to punch bombs, and more favorites return. It’s all very familiar, and still lots of fun.
Many of the game match options from previous games are back as well. I experimented with quite a few of them, including Revenge Carts, which lets you chuck bombs from the map’s perimeter after getting blown up, and Skulls that infect you will all kinds of terrible diseases (bomb diarrhea!). My favorite gameplay modifier, Pressure Blocks, returns as well and this causes blocks to drop from the ceiling once time runs out. These frantic sudden-death moments were quite intense, reminding me how exhilarating Bomberman can be when it’s at its best.
Eight stages were playable in the demo, and here again it’s more of what we’ve come to expect. There’s a classic grid stage, one with slippery ice, another with magnets that attract bombs, one containing stone gazebos that block your view, and a few with raised platforms. I liked that every map offered different visual themes, and their unique gimmicks helped spice up the otherwise routine gameplay.
All in all, I had a good time with Super Bomberman R and can see this being my go-to party game on the Nintendo Switch. It was a blast to play with other first-time players, and it provided quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. I’m disappointed that the game doesn’t attempt to break new ground, but the core gameplay is so fun I found it hard to care.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Release Date: April 25, 2017
After a three year wait, this spring Sega is finally localizing Puyo Puyo Tetris for North American audiences. As the name implies, this game combines two puzzle game juggernauts—Puyo Puyo and Tetris—into one. I had a chance to go hands-on with two of the game’s five multiplayer modes.
In Swap Mode, I went head-to-head against a friend playing both Tetris and Puyo Puyo. At the beginning of the match, a spinning dial selects which game will start (in this case Puyo Puyo) and we each had roughly 30 seconds to make as many Puyo matches as possible. Once time was up, play switched over to a fresh Tetris board where we had to complete lines as quickly as possible. A half minute later, we swapped back to Puyo Puyo, and this process continued until one player lost.
Managing two different play fields at the same time is a challenge in and of itself, but when it’s two completely different puzzle games things get chaotic real fast. You lose if either stack reaches the top of the board, so it doesn’t help if you’re good at one game or the other—you need to be competent at both.
As expected for a competitive Tetris/Puyo match, by completing lines or Puyo combos, you can send junk pieces over to your opponent’s board to trip them up. I also discovered that your non-active board can rack up combos while you’re in the other game. For example, if you begin a multi-chain Puyo combo right before you swap, the chain reaction will continue as you play Tetris. What’s more, the Puyo combo will send junk Tetrimino blocks to your opponent’s Tetris board, so the two games can actually interact. The reverse worked as well – when I completed a 4-line Tetris right before the swap, I gleefully watched as junk Puyo flooded my friend’s Puyo Puyo board.
The other competitive mode I tried was Fusion, and this one was even more frenetic. Here you’ll have Tetriminos and Puyos drop in the same game board, and the pieces adhere to the rules of their respective game. In other words, you need to form lines with the Tetriminos while you’re matching four or more Puyos of the same color.
It wasn’t long before our puzzle boards were a hodgepodge of pieces from both games. There was one saving grace through: I noticed Tetris blocks were “heavy” and would crush Puyos lying beneath them. This opened up new strategic possibilities, such as bunching together unwanted Puyos and crushing them, or filling Tetris line gaps with Puyos knowing you’ll crush them when you get the right Tetriminos.
Both Puyo Puyo Tetris modes I played were fast-paced, challenging, and fun. I liked how the two games intertwined in novel ways, and overall the balance between them felt right. There’s still a lot more I need to explore in the game, including the Versus, Party, Big Bang, and Challenge modes. A Sega rep also told me that, in the final game, all multiplayer modes can be played offline or online with up to four players. My demo was limited to two-players, so I can only imagine how chaotic four-player matches are going to be.
Multiplayer and Nintendo Switch – the future looks bright
From a multiplayer perspective, there’s a lot in the Nintendo Switch pipeline to be excited about. Retro fans should be especially happy with Super Bomberman R and Puyo Puyo Tetris, alongside announced titles like Capcom’s Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers, and Sega’s Sonic Mania. In my experience, Snipperclips was the best multiplayer surprise of all, and hopefully we’ll see more great indie games during Nintendo’s upcoming “Nindies Showcase.” You can watch that event live by tuning in here on Tuesday, February 28, at 9 a.m. PT.