Back in 2007, when the world was between a poker craze and a giant financial meltdown, Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! came out on a mysterious new game network called Steam. Since then Nelly has moved up to paid games and even a sequel, but the first game still had it in the rough with crude animation and characters who could only speak with floating words. Then the HD release came. I’m going to base this on the game now, instead of as a new edition, so let’s go back to the year of first generation iphones and begin.
You are Nelly Cootalot. You are a pirate who loves birds and is currently passed out in a boat. Suddenly a ghost pirate comes out and enlists you to find birds. From there you sail the one seas in search of them, and uncover a few plots along the way. It starts out as a basic quest, but it slowly becomes more - and for a story, that’s usually what you hope for. I had no trouble following it, and there were some twists.
Playing via Steam, it’s a hard game to criticize on the controls. It’s simply point and click. That’s about the gist of it. You just need a palm and a functioning finger and you can do as well as anyone. But seriously, it was a pretty good point and click designed game.
Compared to the sequel the graphics are crude. Even considering the HD-ness, everything looks so hand drawn and featureless. Nelly herself looks so undetailed. The graphics are unique, and the bleed-out coloring gives it a unique flair, but it’s still so stuck in the past. Movements are jerky, and faces were better expressed on the pokemon Ditto. It’s a mixed bag, but should have been better.
That leads into the mechanics - also jerky. I mean, even with characters now speaking, the speech balloons are there - it adds to unnecessary clutter. Gameplay is relatively simple (RE: point and click puzzle solving and dialogue paging), but it seems like a hassle for players to walk and move around. Again, the HD update doesn’t fix this, just makes it look visually better.
The music is what games of this level should strive for - simple, but if placed on loop, you don’t notice it’s been on a loop. You have this jungle/xylophone mash with a hint of exotic flair that nails down the game to a T. It’s not something you can jam with in the car, but it adds a lot. Sadly they decided to add in voice acting. The voice acting itself is actually pretty good, but considering the other was silent, all of the unspoken cues and things you need for a dialogue worded game is still in there, which made things feel crowded and bogged down with story even though they weren’t. They should have decided on one or the other but they didn’t.
Besides the HD-ness updating things while making unupdated things look glitchy (even though they weren’t),the HD part lives up to its name.No glitches, no slow downs, nothing. It ran solidly. Even characters I remember being slower or who lagged so much you could tell where joints were hinged on their bodies looked great.
Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD improves on several things from the original, but ultimately it boils down to the same game with many things improved, many things staying the same, and a few things getting worse. However, the good outdoes the bad, and Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! HD is enough of a positive that it makes it worth the play. Now make the sequel, m-kay?
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.