eShop Review: Cut the Rope
But will it rope you in or leave you at the end of your tether?
Casual gaming. It’s a rather contentious subject these days, with some analysts predicting it spells doom for traditional gaming companies like Nintendo, and others simply recognising it as a different style of gaming which poses no threat to the big N. One thing’s for sure though, it’s a big business – and few games sum up the word “casual” better than Chillingo’s latest DSiWare offering, Cut the Rope.
Originally released by the Angry Birds publisher on the iOS and Android app stores in 2010, it was actually made by relatively unknown Russian developer ZeptoLab, and was met with an incredibly positive reaction. But how has it held up in the journey over to Nintendo’s portable gaming machines?
Trick or Treat?
The gameplay itself is beautifully simple – all you need to do is cut some pieces of rope, tethering a luscious (in the virtual world at least) piece of candy to the walls of a cardboard box, in order to feed it to the OmNom monster located somewhere within that same box. To add to the challenge, each level has three stars floating around, and you’ll need to collect a reasonable number of these to progress in the game.
Mix that together with a number of different features including time limits to give that frantic feel, bubbles to lift your candy into the sky and gravity switches to flip the whole game around, and the gameplay experience doesn’t ever seem to get boring from the moment that you unwrap the game’s digital icon until you see the cutesy ending screen after the 125 levels.
However, that gameplay experience isn’t without its little niggles. The porting process from the mobile platforms onto the 3DS’/DSi’s smaller, lower resolution screen hasn’t left the game looking well – from pixelated ropes to a slightly odd dissolving screen transition, it’s clear that the game wasn’t designed for the DS.
More worryingly, the change in touch-screen style from capacitive multi-touch on iOS to resistive single-touch on the 3DS/DSi has made some levels, which are evidently designed for a multi-touch device, substantially harder. I felt like I wanted to spring my left thumb out from under my 3DS’ top screen to provide some assistance to my frantically working stylus on more than one occasion, almost resulting in a partitioned 3DS and expensive repair bill. Thank goodness my thumb isn’t too strong…
There’s also the occasional glitch; I was once told that I had failed the level despite being sure that the candy has sailed right over OmNom’s gaping pie-hole, and there are sometimes precision issues in the cutting resulting in the occasional bit of shouting after accidentally cutting two ropes at once.
As annoying as they may be though, none of these issues really make the game unplayable, and the use of the 3DS’/DSi’s double screen to show you your progress as you complete the levels is a really nice touch.
Half Full or Half Empty?
However, Cut the Rope‘s main problem is not the levels in themselves, but their quantity. If you can get past the small glitches and occasionally frustrating controls, there simply aren’t enough of them – each level will last perhaps three minutes if you take it extremely slowly, but for experienced gamers, they can all be done in less than half a minute each. It took me slightly more than an hour and a quarter to complete every level whilst achieving just over 300 of the 375 stars available, and I ended up with a 100% completion time of under two hours.
Granted, it is a DSiWare release, and isn’t expected to be a long lasting game; but paying just under a fiver (especially when the same game, with extra levels even, is available on iOS for 99¢/69p) for around two hours of gameplay is close to robbery in my book.