Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD (PC) Review
No New Content
Now Where Did I Leave My Adventure Corset?
It’s tough being a woman in a man’s world. It’s even tougher being a woman in a pirate’s world. It’s a life filled with danger, death, and endangered birds that need protecting? For the sake of the cute and fluffy animals, Nelly is going to break the nautical glass ceiling and become the greatest pirate ever known. Well, as long as she doesn’t have to sweat a lot and has access to a proper bathroom.
Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is an updated version of the previously released freeware game of the same name. While there are minor improvements, it remains a charming point-and-click adventure with surprising wit. Spoonbeaks Ahoy! follows the unconventional pirate Nelly as she investigates the disappearance of the Spoonbeaks, a bird native to the Barony of Meeth. A task assigned to her by the ghost of her pirate ancestor. Puzzles are a challenging yet enjoyable experience, and the silly tongue-in-cheek humor keeps the story engaging. The problem is that the HD version has added nothing to this. Despite its long name, game-play is short lived and the choice to not add anything is disappointing at best.
Graphics are in a cartoonish, hand-drawn style. Similar to doodles in a notebook, the visuals fit with the overall quirky nature of the game. The HD release has, once again, not changed this. What it did add are widescreen resolutions and a more streamlined and intuitive interface. While the new screen resolutions are a welcome addition, their use is not consistent. Some of the interior shots are still small and instead use wide border art to fill the space. The fact that this border art is filled with just simple hatching feels like a lost opportunity. The previous pictograph style interaction menu has been removed. The HD version now uses a more modern two-button interface, right-clicking for action and left-clicking for description. The menu bar has also become sleeker, losing its clunky graphics in favor of a more refined and legible font and spacing. While these changes do present an uncluttered and professional look, it’s more of a style choice than any real improvement.
The HD release also added voice acting. As explained in the intro, except for the protagonist Nelly, all other characters are now voiced by the creator Alasdair Beckett-King. While not perfect, the various accents Alasdair uses pair well with the unconventional humor and tone. While not on the level of professional voice acting, it’s performed well enough to make it a welcome addition. That being said, it’s also helpful that you can disable this feature at any time.
While a creator is allowed to refine and modify their creation, there should be more than just cosmetic changes. Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD lacks change and content to justify a new release. Even though it is commendable that profits are going to charity, it is still not worth paying for a previously free game.