Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a fun point&click adventure game for the Nintendo Switch, brought to life by British comedian Alasdair Beckett-King. That’s it. That’s the whole review. Nothing else to see here...*sigh* okay don’t throw a wobbly, there’s a bit more to it than that. Let’s crack on, then!
The Fowl Fleet is actually the second entry in the Nelly Cootalot series. There is a fairly interesting backstory to these games. Comedian/artist/ginger overlord Alasdair Beckett-King created the first title, Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! as a present for his girlfriend, whom the titular Nelly was modeled after. It was released back in 2007 as freeware, but an HD remaster of Spoonbeaks Ahoy! has just been released on Steam and you can purchase it for a small pittance, with the money earned going to a charity for birds. I haven’t played it for myself yet but if The Fowl Fleet is any indicator, it should be worth a gander (bird pun totally intended).
Now back to Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet! It starts off as our brave bird-loving heroine is battling mail on the cheekily-named M.S. Undeliverable when the spirit of legendary pirate Captain Bloodbeard pops out of a bucket of water to bequeath a quest upon her. The Captain implores Nelly to find the Treasure of the Seventh Sea before his evil brother Baron Widebeard can claim it and quite possibly harm many birds in the process. Being the aviphile that she is, Nelly does not hesitate to accept the task. This sets in motion a barrel full of monkeys’ worth of hijinks on the high seas. There is a wonderfully pervasive feel of British charm throughout the journey, and the fact that it is chock full of interesting and fabulously voice-acted characters only adds to it.
You’ll find all the modern conventions of the pointy/clicky genre here, from character interactions and puzzle-solving to searching for specific items and the occasional combining of said items. Nothing new or ground-breaking to be found. Most of the puzzles follow a logical conclusion. I thought they were fairly simple, overall. Early on, Nelly encounters her old companion and classy bird-fellow; Sebastian J. Coot (who is voiced by Tom Baker, *SQUEAL*). You can always turn to him for advice and the rare object interaction. He can also give you small progression hints by informing you of points of interest to check out. Or you can just talk to him, you know, to hear his voice some more.
Since this is a Switch title, you have the opportunity to use touch controls when playing it in handheld mode. It works exactly how you think it does. Pointing at a specific spot moves Nelly to that position, while touching objects interacts with them. If you press the Hint button, it temporarily highlights the interactive objects found in the environment. Using the joysticks gives the game a slightly different feel. The left joystick moves Nelly across the screen on a 2D plane while pushing the right joystick in a direction automatically scrolls between the different objects she can interact with. This can get incredibly frustrating when trying to select a certain point of interest and the game keeps pointing at everything but. Another minor frustration with the controls is the unresponsiveness that sometimes occurs when opening/closing the inventory.
One thing I really enjoyed was the commentary track. As you progress through the story, you unlock tracks in the special Commentary Menu. Narrated by Alasdair and his girlfriend Rachel (Nelly!), they offer both insight about the scene you’ve completed and playful banter between the two of them. I genuinely enjoyed unlocking and listening to these. Not only are they funny but they give you a glimpse behind the curtain of the game, so to speak.
The visuals are worth noting as well. As I’ve said 100 times, I’m a sucker for hand-drawn graphics. They float my boat (HAH! Thought you’d get away without suffering at least one nautical pun this entire review?!?). The environments especially shine. There really isn’t much else to say. If you feel like embarking on a charming, family-friendly pirate adventure and don’t mind the occasional control issue, then your ship has finally come in (HAH!).
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8.5/10
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