Publisher Iceberg Interactive and developer IguanaBee present Headsnatchers for review. Headsnatchers is a multiplayer brawl party game with a chunky and colorful style designed to accentuate the individual head designs. Levels are filled with different obstacles, traps, and goals in order to get players to ultimately snatch one anothers’ head for points.
Don’t plan on playing Headsnatchers online if you want to get the most out of it. That’s likely for the best as the sometimes cumbersome character movement, chunky models, and obstacle-filled arenas are better suited for in-person fun. But my experience trying to find someone to play Headsnatchers with online has been one of loneliness. Seconds turn into minutes as I wait for someone, anyone, to come and try to snatch my head. Even with the online caveat in mind, the chunky movement is going to be as much a selling point for fun as it is a deterrent. There isn’t much in the way of aiming, and since you’re trying to knock the heads off of your opponents you’re almost relying on traps more so than your skill to win.
I like Headsnatchers in some ways, loathe it in others, and have a sneaking suspicion it would have fared much better in the heyday of the Nintendo 64. It’s a 4-player party game with a solid core mechanic, knocking the heads off of your opponents, and giving players creative goals to use those heads. When I’ve found someone to play with, either in-person or online, I’ve had a lot of fun chasing my head around trying to figure out the safest way to deposit or use my ill-obtained cranium. This is a great scenario for trash talking on a couch or pairing off in Headsnatchers‘ tag-team mode to ease up on individual trash talking for a bit of team-based trash talking.
Headsnatchers, unfortunately, does require other people to have any kind of fun with it. I would like to say that I’ve been able to unlock all of the different features, but the only way I’ve been able to unlock things is with other people or the barren online community. For example, in my attempt to unlock more in the game, I started looking for online partners the moment I began writing this piece. It’s now been over thirty minutes and another player has yet to connect to my game. This is an example of how Nintendo’s approach to net play, requiring the player to purchase a Nintendo online pass, is flawed. The current system is hindering third party developers who want to make games that take advantage of the Switch’s portability and multiplayer potential.
What also does not help Headsnatchers is its godawful single-player campaign. Instead of giving players the option to play the standard multiplayer brawls against bots, I had to wade through some of the worst platforming in recent memory for Headsnatchers‘ “Zombie Castle” mode. Chunky, imprecise, and slightly out-of-control movement is fine when the goal is to get players to collide with one another in multiplayer maps. It does not suit claustrophobic platforms and rooms filled with enemies that can be much more precise in their swings than yourself.
So in the moments I’ve found someone willing to play Headsnatchers, online or through the various screen outputs of the Switch, the potential shines greatly. I love that the arenas each take different paths to force competitors to fight in order to end. The lack of a timer does hurt a bit here, as players could just refuse to play, but that Bartleby-esque option for everyone involved to go, “I’d rather not” as colorful hell rains down is deeply funny to me.
Headsnatchers does itself no favors by giving solo players an awful campaign with none of the charm or chaos of the multiplayer maps. It would have been better for IguanaBee to not include something so terrible to begin with and just force online or couch multiplay. Thankfully, Headsnatchers does shine in that arena, and if you're looking for a reason to trash talk your friends or family while carrying around their carefully designed heads, then this will satisfy that specific itch.
- Art style that's combination rainbow buttercream and clay grotesquerie is great for creating your own unique participants.
- Character movement is clunky, but that lends excitement to the matches as they require players to completely commit to each action amidst the traps.
- Awful single-player campaign that does nothing to showcase the kind of fun that can be had in the rest of Headsnatchers.
- Nonexistant online presence if you want to play against strangers.
Prognosis is Fair