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Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD Indie Game Review

A little over three years ago I took a look at the point and click adventure game Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet. I was genuinely surprised by the game as I enjoyed it quite a bit. From its charming story to its good puzzle design, I thought the game was a really good point and click adventure game. As I mentioned in the review for Fowl Fleet though I never played the original game. Well that changed as Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! is available tomorrow on Steam with an HD remaster. While I didn’t expect as much from the original game as it was originally a freeware game, I still hoped that it would be on par with its sequel. Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD may not be quite as good as its sequel The Fowl Fleet, but it is still a charming and fun point and click adventure.

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Alasdair Beckett-King and Application Systems Heidelberg for the review copy of Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.

In Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD you not surprisingly play as Nelly Cootalot. Nelly Cootalot is not your typical pirate due to her love of puns and adorable creatures. One day she is contacted by the ghost of William Bloodbeard who tells her of the disappearance of a fleet of birds known as spoonbeaks. Always in the mood for adventure and helping out cute animals in peril, she decides to investigate. As she begins her investigation she encounters Baron Widebeard who is up to no good. Can Nelly Cootalot figure out Baron Widebeard’s nefarious plan and save the spoonbeaks before it is too late?

Like its’ sequel Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is pretty much your standard point and click adventure game. For those of you who have never played a point and click game before, the genre name is pretty self explanatory. The objective of the game is to solve puzzles in order to progress the story. This mostly involves clicking on things in order to interact with them. You talk with people to gain information and click on objects to pick them up or interact with them. The information and items you receive are then used to solve puzzles. Once you solve a puzzle it unlocks additional puzzles that you need to solve.

As I alluded to at the beginning of this review, Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is the remastered version of the game of the same name. Spoonbeaks Ahoy! was originally created back in 2007 and is the first game in the Nelly Cootalot franchise. The game originally was a freeware game but is now on Steam with an updated version. The HD version of the game includes updated graphics (supporting widescreen and HD resolutions), a streamlined and improved interface, and voice acting for all of the characters. The game opens by joking that the voice acting is bad as almost all of it is done by the developer Alasdair Beckett-King. I thought the voice acting was actually pretty good though. It might not be as good as professional voice acting, but I think it does a good job bringing character to the game. As the game was originally a freeware game, all proceeds from the sale of the game (minus fees and taxes) will go to the charity RSPB, a British charity that takes care of birds.

When I look at point and click games there are two main things that I look at which usually determine whether it is going to be a good game, the story and the gameplay.

One of the things that I liked most about Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet was the game’s story. This carries over to Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD as well since the story is quite good. The story is really charming and cute where children and adults alike will enjoy it. The story is also pretty funny if you don’t mind puns. It might be because I like puns and other “bad” jokes, but I laughed quite a few times during the game. I would say the story of the Fowl Fleet was better mostly because it was further developed due to it being a longer game. People who like quirkier point and click games though should enjoy their time with Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD’s story.

As the gameplay is similar to pretty much every other point and click game, this aspect of the game comes down to the puzzle design. For a point and click game to be good it has to have good puzzle design. In this regard Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD does a pretty good job. I would say that most of the puzzles are pretty clever. Just like The Fowl Fleet the game has some interesting puzzles that require some out of the box thinking to solve. The puzzle design reinforces the quirkiness of the game making for an enjoyable experience.

The only real issue I had with the puzzle design is that most of the puzzles are quite easy. I do play a lot of puzzle and point and click games though so this might not be the case for everyone. The reason why the puzzles are pretty easy is due to the puzzles being pretty straightforward. None of the puzzles use convoluted logic used in some point and click games. I would say most of the challenge in the game came from finding items that I could pick up or interact with. For this reason I give the game a lot of credit as it has a hint system which points out which things you can interact with on each screen. If you ever get stuck you can use the hint option to make sure you aren’t missing something. Once I found the item that I was missing I was able to pretty quickly figure out what I was supposed to do with it. Probably the toughest puzzle in the entire game is the last puzzle. It is not that hard to figure out what you need to do, but it takes some time to figure out how you accomplish that task.

I see the easier difficulty as both a positive and a negative. On the positive side it means that the game avoids becoming frustrating. One of the biggest problems that you can encounter in some point and click games are puzzles that use convoluted logic where you have to think just like the designer(s) in order to have a chance at solving the puzzle without resorting to trial and error. Thankfully this is not present in Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD. I never became frustrated playing the game as it never took too long to figure out what I had to do next. This also makes the game accessible to a larger audience as you don’t need to be a puzzle expert to figure out what you need to do to proceed. I could even see the game working well with older children. I don’t see the game really challenging people that play a lot of puzzle/point and click games though. If you are looking for a game with puzzles that are going to make you really think, Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is not going to be it. The puzzles require thought to solve but point and click experts shouldn’t have too much trouble solving all of the puzzles in the game.

Due to the easier puzzles and the fact that it was originally a freeware game, it is not that surprising that Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is pretty short. I would guess that most people should be able to beat the game in around three to four hours. That is less than half the length of The Fowl Fleet. That is pretty short for a point and click game. Normally this would be a bigger issue except for two things. First as I mentioned all proceeds from the game are going to charity. Second the game is going to be “super, super cheap” according to the game’s Steam page. I wish the game would have been longer because I was enjoying it quite a bit. The shorter length makes the game quick and to the point though.

At the end of the day I don’t think Spoonbeaks Ahoy! is quite as good as the Fowl Fleet, but that shouldn’t be all that surprising. Spoonbeaks Ahoy! was originally a freeware game after all while The Fowl Fleet was a full fledged release. Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is still a good point and click game in its own right though. The game is similar to your typical point and click game. The puzzle design is clever though and is accessible enough that older children and adults should enjoy it. The puzzles are on the easier side but they avoid becoming frustrating. The easy difficulty does lead to the game being kind of short. What makes Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD really shine though is the game’s story. The story is charming and cute where it is hard to not have a good time playing the game.

If you have never been a fan of the point and click adventure genre, the game probably won’t be for you. People who enjoy a charming story mixed with good point and click gameplay should really enjoy their time with Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD. If that describes you I would recommend picking up the game.

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