Jack McCloud

@jack_mccloud80

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Reviewed: Oct 30, 2020
10.00
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of those special games that came out at one of the best possible times, not just for me, but for everyone that owned or wanted to own a Nintendo Switch console. During troubling times, it was something that brought joy to everyone and still does today with numerous seasonal events and free updates. This is a game that is meant to be played over the course of several years. So, what makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons so good? Well, it's the perfect relaxation game. It makes you forget about everything going on in your life and takes you to a simpler life with no complications. Throw in cute and polished visuals, adorable animals, and tens of thousands of collectables and crafting recipes to decorate a virtual home and town and well... You have a simulation masterpiece on your hands. There isn't really a whole lot more to say here. Nearly everyone has played or heard of this game at this point. Even my co-workers and staff, none of which had touched a video game controller, held an actual conference through Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This game is wonderful and will even turn the most adamant anti-video game activist towards the hobby. If you own a Nintendo Switch and need something to take the edge off and help you relax, there isn't any other game I could recommend more. Get this game and forget all of your troubles.
Reviewed a game
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World of Final Fantasy Maxima
Reviewed: Sep 21, 2020
8.50
World of Final Fantasy Maxima is a celebration of the entire franchise and its absolutely full of references to not just iconic characters but the more niche and forgotten ones too. It re-tools story fragments from most of the games and shapes them into something completely unique and different. At its core, this game is essentially a monster collecting & battling turn-based RPG similar to games like Pokémon however it's got a stacking gimmick that adds a surprising amount of depth to the combat. It also has the amazing feature of speeding up the combat that I will always appreciate. Leveling up is as simple as battling to gain EXP and each monster has a unique skill tree to unlock more abilities and stat boosts. Nothing crazy but it captures that feel the series is known for. I need to state that this game has some downright horrible mini-games that, although aren't necessary to complete the story, can lock you out of content that you really want. I found myself missing out on a couple of things I would have really enjoyed having because of how unplayable most of them ended up being, especially when it came to the included Maxima DLC. This game has a lot of familiar creatures from the Final Fantasy universe, all in beautiful HD and a unique art-style that complements the story and world it has created. Chibi versions of some fan favorite Final Fantasy characters make appearances as well. Worlds are also inspired by locations from various Final Fantasy games. From the well-known Mako Reactors of Final Fantasy VII to the lesser known town of Cornelia from the original game, it pays tribute to the entire series in some way. The soundtrack is awesome, with some original tracks but mostly remixes of older Final Fantasy themes. I loved hearing new compositions of Final Fantasy IV playing as I was exploring a certain place in the world. It was a pure nostalgia trip, we'll just say. I won't spoil anything for those reading. This game's story is full of humor and has an incredible self-awareness of how silly some plot points can really be within the series. It never takes itself too seriously, but don't let that fool you. This game has some pretty intense moments as well as you progress through the story. Overall, I can highly recommend this game as a love letter to fans of the series as a whole. The combat can be a little tiring as there is a lot of it, but it has plenty of depth and experimenting with all the different monsters to make your favorite stacked teams is a lot of fun. The mini-games are mostly unplayable however and the fact that it locks you out of a couple of extras really bothered me. Everything else is wonderful though and you will enjoy your time with this one as I did.
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Snipperclips - Cut it out, together!
Reviewed: Sep 18, 2020
7.00
Snipperclips at its core is a puzzle party game, designed to be played with one other person at all times. There are so many hilarious and quirky moments throughout the experience but it really has its ups and downs. The presentation is very cute and simple. Everything is conveyed to you like some type of project that you have to problem solve and complete before moving on to the next. It sets the mood for what the game is, and I love the facial expressions the two characters you control give each other. The gameplay is fantastic, but only when playing with a friend. It is absolutely hilarious trying to work together and convey thoughts on what each other think's the solution might be to puzzle. However, in single player it just completely loses that charm and what you have is a generic puzzle game without the humor attached to it. Likewise, the game offers several party modes for up to 4 players that can be fun to visit for a little while, but quickly get boring. You really have to make your own fun there. Nothing to special with the soundtrack or anything. There aren't that many songs to listen to but what is there is fun nonetheless. I personally like the silly sounds the character shapes make when you snip them. It adds personality to the game in my opinion. Overall, I'm pretty conflicted with Snipperclips. On one hand, its a brilliant co-op game to play through, but once it is finished, there's not much of a reason to go back as the puzzles will always be the same and you will always know the solutions. The game is incredibly charming and quirky but if you don't have anyone to play with, all of that is sucked out of the game with clunky controls and swapping between characters to solve the puzzle without the hilarity of playing with another person. I recommend it for the co-op experience alone, but I wouldn't pick it for anything else!
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Mega Man 11
Reviewed: Sep 16, 2020
8.00
Mega Man 11 is a classic 2D Action Platforming experience the franchise has really needed. As someone that has only played a few games in the series, I was curious how its newest entry played. I'm not sure how the hardcore fans really feel about this game, but for me personally, I think its a really solid game overall. It's presentation is really good and it has an amazing soundtrack that the series is known for. It gets you really pumped for each level and it's just great. This game gives you full control to make it as easy or as hard as you want your experience to be and that is always welcome. So getting down to the gameplay, it's largely the same as previous 2D entries in the series to my knowledge, however it has one mechanic that makes it unique. The gear shift system, a way to temporarily slow down time or give yourself a damage boost. It really plays a vital role in how you tackle obstacles throughout the game. The level design is mostly great with a couple of frustrating moments, but overall had a blast getting through them all. Every boss and power up feels unique and fun to use and you even have access to a shop to spend in-game currency on to give you more upgrades and items to restore HP and such. It really helps you get past harder parts of the entire game. It's a really polished game overall. Now, there is one glaring flaw that some people may not like and that is the length of Mega Man 11. On Normal difficulty, I was able to finish the story of the game in 5 hours. This is fairly common in Mega Man games so this shouldn't be surprising for series veterans, but this is a game that is meant for multiple replays and not a single playthrough. The game provides unique challenges and in game achievements to unlock by playing through the levels in unique ways to motivate you to replay the game and they are actually very fun to challenge yourself with. Overall, I think Mega Man 11 is the game the series really needed and I think fans and newcomers alike will have a lot of fun with this. I've seen it around the $14.99 price range and I think that it a good price for a great 2D Action Platformer and I was very happy with my experience.
Reviewed a game
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RESIDENT EVIL REVELATIONS
Reviewed: Sep 16, 2020
9.00
I originally played Resident Evil Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS and absolutely loved it. It was a graphical marvel on this system as it looked better than anything else on the market. So how does the Switch version hold up? Very well as you might imagine. It looks great and plays well with the joy-cons and the pro controller options the system has. It really benefits from the second joy stick that the original 3DS model needed an attachment for. It runs well although suffered from some stuttering and long load times that were also present in the 3DS version. I'm not sure if this is caused by loading from my Micro SD card or not, but because it was on the original as well, this might just be how the game is. The sound design is great and can keep you on edge at times. The visuals are really good as well, and the enemy designs are really creepy looking. The main setting of the game is an isolated cruise ship and its really well done. The story is is good but not perfect and might be the game's weakest aspect, but it does still have really good moments. The gameplay is similar to Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 with the ability to move and shoot which is great. Playing through the story can be very difficult at times even on the normal setting. I found myself really running out of ammo at times, and I even have to finish the final boss fight with my knife as I completely ran out of ammo. The best part of the game though is its Raid Mode: A RPG-like mode where you level up and collect new gear to tackle harder and harder areas. It's a brilliant game mode that really makes you keep coming back to this game. The Switch version even has amiibo support for this mode that will cut down on the grind making it the best way to play Raid Mode. Overall, I think the Switch version is by far the best way to play Resident Evil Revelations and I can't recommend this one enough. I've seen it on sale on the eShop for as low as $9.99 and it's a steal at that price. Absolutely worth it!
Reviewed a game
Switch
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Reviewed: Sep 15, 2020
10.00
I originally wrote an incredibly in-depth look into this game but it didn't post or update and it took me about 45 minutes to write. I'm just going to leave it with this. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the most ambitious video games ever made, with so many ways to play it. There is something here for everyone and I'm hard pressed to think of any reason why someone wouldn't enjoy it. The online multiplayer seems to get quite a few complaints, but with my wired connection, I usually have near flawless experiences while hosting my own arenas. It's not something I play online too often as it's solely meant for the local multiplayer experience but I can see why some might be turned off by the idea of the online not being so great. Everything else though is absolutely incredible. It's an amazing fighting game, and amazing party game, and even an amazing RPG when exploring the unique Spirits game mode. With a staggering 86 playing characters as of this review, with 5 more on the way. This is one of my all time favorite video games and if you own a Nintendo Switch, you need to own this game with it. I really do believe I'll put in 5,000+ hours into this game before I might be truly done with it. Seriously, go out and buy this masterpiece.
Reviewed a game
Switch
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
Reviewed: Sep 15, 2020
8.50
Final Fantasy VIII is a game I hold very close to my heart. Being the first game I ever played on the original PlayStation, the introduction cutscene blew my pre-teen brain away. So, going into this Remastered version of Final Fantasy VIII, I got exactly what I wanted out of it and so this review is for those that were fans of the original and want to know if this version is worth picking up. So, this game has two wonderful things that it has done: completely remastered character models, and a way to speed up combat, a lot. The speed up is completely optional but I found myself in love with this functionality. Everything else is in tact except for what it probably my biggest issue with this version: the soundtrack. I'll get into these 3 changes now. The character models have been completely redone for this game and they are actually incredible and jarring when you see that the pre-rendered background have been completely untouched. I love this addition though because the characters just look really good, and I like just seeing all of my favorite RPG characters glow up with new representation. It's novel, but effective for me. This version has two "cheat" features if you want to call them that. One really is a cheat as it completely restores to party's HP at the click of a button. I found myself never using this feature but its there if you just want to rush through the story with no challenge. The second feature is a x3 speed up feature. This is a game changer for Final Fantasy VIII Remastered as it makes the Draw System FAR less tedious than it used to be. Just being able to skip GF and Draw animations is amazing and cuts down so much waiting around for the characters to perform their actions. I used this feature constantly and it made a game I loved, even more fun to play. Now lets talk about the soundtrack... The original Final Fantasy VIII soundtrack is nothing short of a masterpiece. It's my favorite video game soundtrack of all time by far. This Remastered version, for whatever reason, decided to use some of the PC version's MIDI sound font for a portion of its music and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Most of the time is fine, but some tracks just sound plain awful when you remember how good the original sounded. I'm just baffled by this decision as it could not have been difficult to get the original soundtrack on here. The PC version's soundtrack is SO bad at times and it's a crime to have made it part of what is likely the definitive version of one of my all time favorite games. Apart from portions of the soundtrack being bad though, Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is still the same game I fell in love with all those years ago with some extra polish and features that add to the experience. It's not going to be for everyone, but for the fans looking to revisit the game, this is a great way to play it.
Reviewed a game
Switch
Pokémon Sword
Reviewed: Sep 15, 2020
6.00
Pokémon Sword and Shield are hard games to reflect on and review properly. As someone that has played Sword for nearly 300 hours, I really do love these entries as I've been waiting for a mainline console entry in the series since I was 10. However, its really hard not to see all of the flaws that plague this game. The most noticeable issue is that this game was rushed out by The Pokémon Company. You can tell there were big plans for this game that the developers just didn't have time to work on. Story elements that happen are never experienced by the player, but conveyed through dialog that is simply told to you. Places where animations should happen fade to black so that they didn't have to animate it. Things like this make it very apparent that this is not the product Game Freak wanted to put on store shelves but simply had no choice. Throw this together with dated visuals, attack animations, awful online functionality and lazy sound design and you have a game that just isn't really all that fulfilling to play and often times can feel frustrating when you look at the things that were done right. See, the entire game isn't terrible. Most of the new Pokémon designs themselves are great and they did implement a lot of Quality of Life improvements to make level grinding almost non-existent. It still retains the charm that the series has always had and the combat itself is exactly the way it has always been. The online raid battles are probably the highlight of the entire game for me personally as it's where 75% of my time with the game ended up going, however because of the awful online structure, it can be frustrating to get started. Ranked Battles are also quite a bit of fun with rewards based on your rank at the end of every season. Overall though, Pokémon Sword and Shield offers an incredibly shallow experience that you can still have fun with, but is still pretty underwhelming. I can't recommend this to newcomers as it could turn you off completely to an otherwise great franchise. It's truly frustrating because I see so much potential and if the game had another 6 months to a year of development time, we would probably be looking at a truly special Pokémon game.
Reviewed a game
Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Reviewed: Sep 14, 2020
10.00
I'm not really sure what I can say about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that hasn't already been said before. This is a very special video game and one that we will be talking about for many, many years. In a bold decision made by Nintendo, they opted to change up a formula that has been proven successful for them for decades, in order create something innovative, fresh and fun. What you get though, is so much more than that. Its an immersive experience like no other, one where you truly have total freedom to do whatever you want. Go wherever you want to go. It's a massive world and you have to find a way to not only survive in it, but save it too. The gameplay is completely overhauled in the sense that finding gear is a massive part of the game. No longer can you depend on the Master Sword. You have to scour through the world for weapons with limited durability and gauge what you want to use your most power weapons for. It forces you into quite a few situations where you can tackle a battle in very fun and exciting ways. Breath of the Wild has a visual style that will age so well over the course of time and coupled with the masterful mixture of its wonderful music and ambiance tracks to make a truly unforgettable gaming experience. This is a game that I truly feel everyone needs to be able to experience at least once.
Reviewed a game
Switch
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition
Reviewed: Sep 14, 2020
8.00
After seeing several mixed reviews and the anger on social media, I was hesitant on getting this remaster. I loved the original game on the Nintendo GameCube and didn't want those memories to get tainted with a bad experience. I decided to download the Lite version and ended up having a really fun time. The visuals and music were improved quite a bit, and I was really happy to see voice acting added! When I saw the effort put in by the development team, I decided to buy the full game and play through it in its entirety. After playing through the entire game's main story in about 22 hours, I can say that I loved the remaster even more than the original game. It's definitely not for everyone, but it hits all the right chords for me personally. A couple of negatives, the load times aren't as bad as people are making it out to be, but they are still not quite up to the standard that you would expect in a 2020 release. The other issue is in the multiplayer. There is no way to play multiplayer locally like the original. To play co-op it has to be online and although it was pretty ambitious to make it crossplay between Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and mobile, it's pretty choppy and seems out of sync at times when playing with a full party. That's not to say the online is unplayable. If the host has a really good connection, it's still a viable play method, but seeing as how its the only option, it definitely needed to be more refined. The visuals are fantastic, the gameplay is exactly how I remember it, the soundtrack is one of the best in the franchise's history, and the voice acting is well done. Overall, I think this game being priced at $29.99 USD is a fair price point. I really believe the developers did a fantastic job bringing this to modern consoles and I enjoyed my time with it. Its hard to recommend it to those that didn't play or enjoy the original, as the presentation was improved, but the game play is exactly the same as it was back in the mid 2000's. If you did love the original though, you won't be disappointed in this remaster.
Reviewed a game
Switch
Super Mario Odyssey
Reviewed: Feb 25, 2020
10.00
Super Mario Odyssey is a welcome return to the 3D Platformer genre that the franchise had already defined in the 90s with the release of Super Mario 64. This entry knows exactly where to pull inspiration from while also experimenting with ways to keep the game constantly fresh and engaging with its possession mechanic. With so many enemies to control, it has an unprecedented number of ways to interact with the world. The game play is so polished that I would go so far as to say this should be the new industry standard for 3D Platformers. It's seriously that good. The music is fantastic for the most part, some new stuff with nostalgic music thrown in. The addition of lyrics to the main songs of the game is something I didn't know I wanted until I heard it. It just gives you a happy feeling. Visuals are amazing, but can be a little jarring seeing normal human beings tower over Mario himself. It was great to see the variety of environments with so much attention to detail. These worlds are fairly big too, you can spend hours on each one just searching for collectibles. Every inch of the world though is brimming with detail and charm. Overall, this game is amazing, and I've never had so much fun with Mario since the Nintendo 64 era. I would be more than happy if this paves the way for the future of, not just this franchise, but the genre as a whole.