Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD – Bite-sized birdsong – Review

Gare – Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:39 PM
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Hello. It’s me again, back with another review about another point & click adventure game, because that’s sort of what I do around here, I suppose. This time, we sail the high seas and try to, uh… rescue birds with spoons for beaks. Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is, as the title not-so-subtly implies, the HD re-release of a freeware adventure game from 10+ years ago, featuring pirates, puzzles, leprechauns and an extremely – and I do mean *extremely* – wide beard. It also doesn’t take itself seriously and was clearly inspired by the likes of Monkey Island, so if that sounds interesting to you, you’ve come to the right place.

To be a bit more specific with the dates, Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy was originally released in 2007, and you can certainly tell it’s from 2007 because it occasionally references Vin Diesel’s xXx movies, The Da Vinci Code and Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s Chzo Mythos games, among other things (crude and shameless interjection: I wrote briefly about the Chzo Mythos over here, and can very much recommend you check it out). Jokes aside, I do have to admit that Nelly and her buccaneering adventures sort of went under my radar back in the day, but that’s quite all right, since that means I fit snugly into the target audience for this HD re-release. Which is actually more than just your average HD re-release, because aside from being, well… HD, it comes fully voice-acted, too. Interestingly enough, most of the voices were performed by creator/comedian Alasdair Beckett-King, but if he hadn’t pre-emptively told me it was all him in the opening video (gee, thanks for the spoiler, Alasdair!), I probably would not have noticed. In any case, the voice acting is quite good is what I’m trying to get at. Nelly, of course, has her own voice actress, and is actually fairly likable as far as point & click protagonists are concerned, providing many a quip and witty comeback during the game’s dialogue segments, including a questionable – but nonetheless highly amusing – attempt at an Italian (?) accent during one of the weirder parts of the storyline. I similarly enjoyed most of my interactions with all the various NPCs found in the game, and the comedic dialogues that usually ensued.

You may or may not have noticed that I called this a point & click adventure at the very beginning, and that sort of immediately tells you three important things about the game: that it features pointing, clicking, and puzzles. I’ll stop beating around the bush and just tell you that the puzzles in Spoonbeaks Ahoy were enjoyable enough. They’re not tremendously difficult, mind you, but neither are the solutions fed to you with – forgive the pun – a spoon-shaped beak. Or a beak-shaped spoon. Whatever. On the whole, the puzzles in Nelly Cootalot rarely operate with a straightforward “here’s your item, now go use it there” formula, but instead give you several layers to work through. Imagine you have to accomplish Task A. But in order to do that, you first need Items B and C, but in order to acquire those items, you must talk to Person D and give them Item E. And so on. It keeps the player engaged but never becomes too convoluted or nonsensical, which I enjoyed. The game’s minimalistic art style does occasionally make it a little difficult to separate important items and points of interest from all the generic background fluff, but thankfully, there’s an in-game hint button that lets you highlight everything that’s interactable, so it doesn’t become much of a problem, provided you’re not above using a bit of help.

The storyline isn’t something you should expect much from, by the way, as it’s largely just an excuse for all the jokes and wacky puzzles to happen. It’s really just about trying to find a group of missing birds. And then you find them, and it turns out that the guy who looked like he’d be the villain was indeed the villain all along. You defeat him and that’s it. There’s a bit of a sequel, uh… hook at the end, and I swear to god I wasn’t planning that pun, but the point is that there’s actually another Nelly Cootalot game if you’re craving for more. It’s titled Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet and features our titular heroine going on another adventure to – you guessed it – help some birds again. It also happens to be a standalone game, so you needn’t have played Spoonbeaks Ahoy to enjoy it.

All in all, Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD was a pleasant little experience. It’s only a couple hours long and can very much be finished in a single sitting, and indeed, it perhaps could’ve been a touch more fleshed-out, but considering we’re dealing with an originally freeware title from over a decade ago, this is something I can look past. I say give it a shot if you have a free afternoon for a bit of piratey puzzle-solving and a healthy dose of charming, Monkey Island-esque humor.

Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is available for $1.99 / GBP 1.69 / 1.99 Euros, with all revenue being donated to the RSPB, a British charity helping birds.

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